April 4, 2012 | When it comes to political representation, residents of San Leandro, Castro Valley, Hayward, and Union City have endured a brutal six months. It began last October, when their longtime Assemblywoman, Mary Hayashi, was caught shoplifting $2,500 worth of clothing from Neiman Marcus in San Francisco. Hayashi ultimately pled guilty, but her legal troubles and public embarrassments have left her Assembly district without effective representation in Sacramento. Indeed, if Hayashi were not termed out of office later this year, there probably would be a recall campaign against her.
But she is being termed out, and so five candidates are vying to replace her in what promises to be an interesting showdown among contrasting characters and styles, featuring a wonky former astrophysicist, a gregarious longtime mayor, and an optometrist/political operative. After the June election, the top-two finishers, regardless of party affiliation, will compete in a November runoff...
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