HAYWARD SCHOOL DISTRICT | What would have been unthinkable even just six months ago could soon be fact—fiscal crusader and Hayward school board member Luis Reynoso may be soon ruling the roost and he would like the title of board president to go with it.
Reynoso won re-election last week to the Hayward school board along with newcomers Annette Walker and John Taylor. The three open seats were once thought to be cakewalks for current members Jesus Armas and Maribel Heredia until text messages showing a secret affair between the two led each to pass on re-election this November.
The openings allowed for wide-open race that ultimately could swing the balance of power toward Reynoso, the board’s most consistent voice against the school district’s profligate ways. Walker finished first in the at-large race followed by Taylor and Reynoso. Newcomer Heather Reyes eeked out a surprising fourth place finish over Sara Lamnin, whose quest for public office was again dashed. She was followed by Wandra Williams and a disappointing last-place finish for the Armas-supported Peter Bufete.
Reynoso believes last week’s results show the community supports his platform rooting out wasteful spending and corruption at the school district. “They want to see changes and voters want us to implement them without spending money or changing direction,” said Reynoso. He plans to seek the board’s presidency in the coming months saying he is most experienced on budget issues and board procedures. “We’re the gatekeepers. We need a knowledgeable person to be the president,” he said. “I’m going to try, but I don’t know if I have the votes.”
Reynoso, though, says he is “cautiously optimistic” about the additions of Walker and Taylor, but he’s playing a game of wait-and-see. “We don’t know yet because they don’t have a record. If I delete the campaign rhetoric, then these two might work out. But, I’ll take time to figure it out.”
The current board has been plagued with instability following news of the affair last July with the majority of Armas, Heredia and Lisa Brunner blocking or limiting discussion of an official investigation into the affair and whether it violated the open government laws, including collusion by the two paramours within some of their votes. The majority has also stymied creating specific rules prohibiting such liaisons between members to its 20-year-old board bylaws.
Over the past two years, Reynoso has had only fellow board trustee William McGee as an ally. Some Hayward insiders, however, believe between Walker and Taylor, the most likely third vote will come from Taylor. In fact, Taylor’s comments to The Citizen during the campaign suggested interest in rooting out the school district’s numerous problems and finding solutions along with an antipathy for Armas’s behavior.