BEV JOHNSON BACK FROM THE BRINK; STARK'S HEALTH; GILCREST DRINKS FREE SODAS.
By Steven Tavares
Mayoral candidate Sara Mestas and likely councilwoman-elect Pauline Cutter both held election night parties at the San Leandro watering hole, The Englander, but things got testy between the the rapper-turn-community activist and one of Cutter's top supporters.
When Mestas reacted positively to late-night returns showing San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos closing the gap on their opponent, Stephen Cassidy, Park and Recreation commissioner Peggy Hynd-Combs turned her perma-scowl towards the candidate and berated her.
Combs, a Cassidy supporter who was briefly a candidate for the District 5 seat along with Cornia Lopez and Cutter, told Mestas she had no right running for mayor so soon. The back-and-forth between the two got so heated that state Sen. Ellen Corbett entered the conversation in support of Mestas' right to run for office.
The exchange is yet another instance of the fiery disenchantment among a few city leaders and residents against Santos which has manifest itself in Cassidy's rise. Combs, it should be noted, is one of few people who openly admits paying a subscription to the Daily Review. She disclosed this tidbit on The Citizen last year.
One of the most overlooked political stories in the East Bay is how termed-out Alameda Mayor Bev Johnson staved off political extinction by winning a seat on the city's city council. Rewind to the earlier this year and Johnson appeared on the fast track to the state Legislature in a few years. County insiders say Johnson was offered a deal by Don Perata, one of her top supporters, to be patient in hopes of taking over Assemblyman Sandre Swanson's seat. Johnson spurned The Don's offer and, instead, launched a sloppy and ill-advised run for Alameda County supervisor last spring. She won barely 30 percent of the vote in losing to Wilma Chan and then switched gears again by running for council. Johnson's slim victory Tuesday night followed a campaign season in Alameda cloaked in dirty politics, shady characters, greedy developers and a fire chief hilariously caught filling up his BMW roadster with city gasoline. Some county sources tell The Citizen, Johnson should have played this brand of campaign hardball during her run for supervisor, but she didn't. The controversy with SunCal over development of the former Naval Air Station nearly swallowed Lena Tam's seat on the council. Ironically, Tam also made a brief run for the same supervisor seat as Johnson, but pulled out early in favor of Chan. In the end, it's Johnson who may have saved her career in politics by pushing Tam to the sidelines.
San Leandro School Board President Mike Katz won re-election this week and upended the world of journalism when he reported his own victory on his web site. The Grimace-shaped spoke in third-person when he wrote, "Katz was elected to the School Board in 2006 when he defeated Pete Lismer." School teacher Lance James also won a seat on the board. James and recently appointed trustee Ron Carey will be sworn-in early next year.
At Democratic headquarter Tuesday night in San Leandro, a few attendees of its election night viewing party were openly shocked by the deteriorating health of Rep. Pete Stark. As the now 19-term congressman ambled out of the office, one gentlemen commented, wide-eyed, how he didn't even recognize Stark. Despite pulling in his typical 70 percent of the vote, it was a rough night for Stark with several of his long-time colleagues in the House being swept out of office by the conservative red tide which significantly calmed once it hit the Sierra Nevadas.
While Stark propped himself on a chair, his three young children mingled among the crowd. His young twins spotted San Leandro political maven Charlie Gilcrest, who is working for Santos' re-election, sipping on free sodas. Stark's son complimented Gilcrest on his American flag-themed necktie. Incidentally, San Leandro Councilman Michael Gregory was at Democratic headquarters earlier in the evening and appeared to have the same tie (twofer?). Gilcrest said "thank you" and the boy pointed to a gold clip on his tie inscribed with Chinese characters. "What does that say?" the boy asked. Gilcrest didn't know. I said, "It says Charlie is in big trouble if Tony Santos loses tonight."