Dan Dillman/PHOTO: SHANE BOND
By SHANE BOND, The Citizen
Coming off the heels of the recent controversy with Alameda County Sheriff's Department, Dan Dillman, owner of San Leandro's Bal Theatre, launched his campaign last Saturday to a small crowd at the Bal Theatre to capture Councilwoman Ursula Reed’s District 2 seat on the San Leandro City Council.
Dillman said the current city council stands by “too much status quo.” He also accused the government of following a federal and state agenda, along with “staff creating a narrow point of view that the council is voting on.” Dillman believes the council is doing too much “wait and see” and not enough leading.
Dillman hopes to facilitate a different direction advocating for street repairs and public safety but also throwing his weight behind Lit San Leandro, the city's well-publicized high-speed fiber optics loop encircling its downtown, and medical marijuana dispensaries, a recent controversial issue that now has the potential of coming to San Leandro.
Dillman wants to lobby Caltrans and Alameda County to work on repairing streets and sidewalks in southern San Leandro. “This whole area [southern San Leandro] can be a great place, it should be thriving,” said Dillman. He claims that a prominent politician in San Leandro told him not to run for the city council telling him that he would have to “honor the system,” if he did. Dillman remains defiant, “No, the system is meant to honor the people, not the other way around,” said Dillman.
As owner of the Bal Theatre, Dillman is no stranger to the struggle for maintaining his business and reputation within local government. In February, the City Council discussed an entertainment ordinance that would have ceased the Bal Theatre’s musical performances, but was stopped at the planning commission. And before then, last fall, Dillman had an encounter with two plain-clothes police officers that Dillman claims did not properly identify themselves and beat him in front of his theater. Afterwards, he took photos of them departing with a man they had arrested. Dillman asked for identification because a few weeks prior a few men posing as police officers had robbed an individual in front of his business.
Since then Dillman was found guilty of obstruction of justice and battery of a police officer which Dillman calls lies and is currently appealing the charge. The charge is a misdemeanor, though, and will not prevent him from running for office this November.
Dillman believes that the controversy will not dampen his run for city council despite the guilty charge resting on his shoulders. “There are those who think that I don’t like the police now, which are not true," Dillman said. "I really look up to those real heroes who stand up for truth and justice. But those who abuse their authority need to be held accountable.” The buoyant business owner wants to connect the youth to the police through a positive program where police know the names of the business owners by walking the streets or riding bikes, similar to what they presently do downtown, near Safeway and Blockbuster, off of East 14th and Davis Streets. “The first time a youth meets an officer is when they are jamming them up against a fence,” said Dillman arguing that the first time a youth meets an officer it should be a positive experience.
Dillman will also be in competition with San Leandro school board member Morgan Mack-Rose for Reed’s seat this fall. Also present at his launch party was Chris Crow, a supporter of the Bal Theatre and Dillman, but also a former planning commissioner who was removed from the commission this past January by Reed.
The Citizen reported in January that the removal may have been politically motivated since it was known then that Crow would be vying for Reed’s seat in the fall. But, since then, Crow has moved, placing him in District 4. He will instead run for the vacated seat left by former Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak, who was termed out this fall, but resigned earlier this month.