May 2, 2012 | Politicians: start updating your resumes. The most secure and lucrative job in Alameda County politics is now open to all after the Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to an public vetting process to replace Nadia Lockyer, who resigned April 20.
Following an hours-worth of public speakers speaking in favor of opening the selection procedure to all comers, the shorthanded board appeared deadlocked. Last week, Supervisor Keith Carson raised the possibility of appointing former supervisor Gail Steele to the seat until a permanent replacement could be elected by voters this November. Supervisor Scott Haggerty initially backed Carson's plan, but later sided with Supervisors Nate Miley and Wilma Chan once the motion appeared doomed to fail.
Carson, ultimately, sided with his colleagues to convey a unified board, but the path was less than smooth and featured soliloquies on democracy, ethnic equality and a parade of public speakers noticeably residing from Union City, the hometown of a potential candidate believed to be a front runner for the appointment.
"The democratic process really says the voters should pick their elected representatives," said Carson. "We're not a monarchy and it shouldn't be the board picking a fellow colleague to serve with us because that has all kinds of ramifications going forward."
Carson, who frequently dropped the name of Thomas Jefferson, worried the imposing power of the incumbency would unduly aid any candidate they choose. He cited numerous studies and anecdotes, including, a 100 percent re-election rate for Alameda County supervisors since 1980.
Although none of the potential replacements for Lockyer were mentioned by name Tuesday afternoon, the race of who that person could be was continuously raised, which Carson gave a nod. "I think that District 2, which has the largest number of Spanish-speaking individuals should have a representative on this board," he said. "I firmly believe that, but the democratic process says the people should select them."
Victor Martinez, a retired resident of Union City was one of many who called for an open public process for the appointment, said plenty of qualified Latinos exist in the district. "Good government is a representative government," Martinez said. "Good government is not an orchestrated event to appoint someone."
Jose Duenas, the president of the Alameda County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, was more direct."We think we that we deserve that right to be represented," he said. A Latino has not held a seat on the Board of Supervisors for over 20 years, added Duenas. The last Latino on the board was Charlie Santana, who passed away in 1991. Incidentally, after a short appointment following Santana's sudden death, he was eventually replaced by Gail Steele after her election the next year.
Three Latinos are among the list of potential appointees. They include, former Union City councilman Richard Valle, Hayward Councilman Mark Salinas and Newark Councilwoman Ana Apodaca.
Miley noted the board's decision does not preclude Steele from consideration. "If Supervisor Steele wants to apply, she can apply," he said.
Here are the terms of the 4-6 week application and selection period, according to Miley's office:
- The open candidate's window begins today, May 2 through May 15 at 5 p.m and includes a three-page application.
- A small group of applicants will then be interviewed by the Board of Supervisors in public session.
- The county says the process is similar to one used in 2001 to appoint Alice Lai-Bitker to replace Wilma Chan, who was elected to the State Assembly in 2000.
- An appointment could be made sometime in early June, according to comments made during Tuesday's meeting.
- However, an appointment must be made by June 19 or the board forfeits the right to choose a successor to the governor.
- An election will then be held in November to elect a permanent board member to execute the remainder of Lockyer's term, ending in 2014.