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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Union spent $140k to get Hayward's Measure C on ballot; city's old guard balks at labor's intrusion

Some of the 13,000 signatures SEIU Local 1021
submittted last January to the Hayward city clerk.
HAYWARD | MEASURE C | It’s one thing for a group to file a local ballot measure and other to fund the fees and people power needed to gather enough signatures for qualification on the ballot.

A truly grassroots effort like the one being led in Alameda to enact rent control relies on volunteers pounding the pavement and cajoling signatures from residents. Others like the ballot measure backed by SEIU Local 1021in Hayward to move its municipal elections from June to November can be costly.

Outsourcing signature-gatherers is an expensive proposition. In Hayward, for instance, SEIU Local 1021 spent over $140,000 for the task of generating 13,000 signatures, according to campaign finance records, and that was just through the end of 2015. The amount includes expenditures to the efforts consultant.

Measure C opponenet say SEIU Local 1021
is trying to buy Hayward elections.
The large outlay from the union, conversely, may bolster the argument made by some Hayward elected officials that “special interests” are trying to dictate the city’s business. Incidentally, these are same officials who greatly angered SEIU Local 1021 two years ago by imposing wage cuts on Hayward city workers.

Measure C, as it is now called successfully qualifying for the November election earlier this year. Hayward is the only city in Alameda County that has not made the switch from June elections to November when voter participation is much greater.

Overcoming voter apathy has been difficult in Hayward. Over the last three election cycles, Hayward voters have avoided the ballot box in large numbers. During the last presidential election year in 2012, just 28 percent of voters in the city cast a ballot in the June primary. Twenty-two percent of Hayward voters participated in the June 2014 mayoral and council election.

The old guard in Hayward, including retired Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele, former Alameda County Sheriff Charlie Plummer and former Hayward Councilmember Kevin Dowling oppose the measure. "They believe their big money will have more influence in a long, crowded, expensive November election than June," the opposiiton Measure C camp says on its web site. "Our local Hayward issues and candidates too often get lost in a barrage of money fueled ads, mailers, robocalls for November national/statewide races."

Another opponent, former state senator and Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney, in fact, railed against the union-backed measure during an Alameda County Central Committee meeting in early March that some elected members found shrill and tone deaf to the very progressive and labor-friendly group. The central committee later endorsed Measure C.