East Bay Land Rush for Swalwell’s Seat in Congress 

Hayward councilmember and state senator among likely contestants.

click to enlarge Hayward Councilwoman Aisha Wahab has thrown her hat in the ring.

Photo courtesy of Aisha Wahab

Hayward Councilwoman Aisha Wahab has thrown her hat in the ring.

Eric Swalwell's presidential candidacy immediately set in motion competition from local politicians to run for the congressional seat that he would vacate if elected. Swalwell said earlier this year that he would not seek re-election to the Hayward, Tri-Valley, and Tri-Cities seat if he ran for president.

Hayward Councilmember Aisha Wahab made it clear that she wants to take her show to Washington, announcing a campaign for the East Bay's 15th Congressional District.

"The East Bay and Tri-Valley regions are changing rapidly and many people are struggling to find affordable housing and keep pace with the rising cost of living," Wahab wrote in an email Friday morning to supporters. "We live in one of the wealthiest regions of the country, yet many people in our community cannot afford to see a doctor when they are sick or stay in the area. We can do better than this. And if I am elected, I will fight to address these challenges."

Last November, Wahab, 31, along with a New Hampshire state representative, became the first-ever Afghan Americans elected to public office. Her story of losing both parents at an early age and growing up in foster care resonated with many.

Once in office, she moved at an unprecedented pace. She issued council referrals at a series of meetings over a three-month span that rattled Hayward's status quo. Proposed legislation included an "Equal Pay for Equal Work," ordinance, a direction to study solutions for alleviating the rental-housing crisis in Hayward, and mental health training for the city's police officers, following the shooting last November of 29-year-old Lathrop man by Hayward Police.

Wahab's early entrance into the race is likely to break a logjam of prospective candidates, some weighing whether they can mount a successful campaign, but also those skeptical about Swalwell's intentions for running for president. Despite Swalwell's comments about giving up his seat, a number of insiders in Alameda County question whether he will eventually jumped back into the congressional race before the filing period ends in late December.

State Sen. Bob Wieckowski reportedly told some Alameda County officials Thursday that he is also running for Congress. He would be expected to parlay his traditional Democratic Party connections into a fundraising advantage over any candidate in the field.

But what if Swalwell's presidential campaign tanks and he decides to win back his congressional seat? For Wieckowski, this poses a problem. He's the establishment candidate whose fortunes in this race are predicated on the full-force of the local party backing his effort.

Swalwell's Campaign Staff is Unionizing

Meanwhile, Swalwell said his campaign staff will be joining a union, he announced Wednesday. His young campaign is the second in the sprawling field to unionize. Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign did the same.

The announcement was made during a speech at the North America's Building Trades Unions's annual conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C. His staff will be joining Teamsters Local 238, which is cleverly based in Iowa.

Swalwell's profile within labor has risen steadily since he was first elected to Congress in 2012. A survey by the AFL-CIO in 2017, found Swalwell voted with labor 98 percent of the time. His support among labor unions in the East Bay today is also strong, but it didn't start out that way. His defeat of Pete Stark in 2012, sidelined one of labor's most stalwart supporters. Swalwell's overtures to moderate-to-conservative voters and groups in the Tri-Valley was also met with suspicion by many local unions.

Alameda Homeless Measure Wins

Alameda voters declared their support for homeless seniors and medical respite services last week with a decisive win in the city's special election.

Measure A, the city-backed initiative affirming a City Council decision to zone a nearly four-acre federal property on McKay Avenue near Crab Cove for homeless services, garnered support from 52.67 percent of Alameda voters, according to election returns posted by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

Measure B, the initiative backed the local group Friends of Crab Cove, and the impetus for the special election, was backed by just 44.09 percent of voters.

"This vote shows Alameda is a community that faces issues with compassion and not by building walls," said Doug Biggs, executive director of the Alameda Point Collaborative, the group that will operate the Alameda Wellness Center on McKay Avenue. Biggs says he intends to continue outreach with neighbors in order to gather their concerns over the project.

Did Castro Valley Council Undermine Affordable Housing?

A proposed 199-unit affordable housing and retail project that may be the largest in Castro Valley's history is meeting resistance from the unincorporated area's de-facto municipal government even though an official application has yet to be filed with the Alameda County Planning Department.

The Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council took the unprecedented step of reviewing the preliminary project to be proposed by the First Presbyterian Church during a recent meeting. Rodrigo Orduna, assistant Alameda County planning director, said the request by council Chairwoman Marc Crawford to place the proposal on Monday night's agenda for a "pre-application" discussion was unprecedented.

Crawford said First Presbyterian's interest in redeveloping the swath of land on the busy intersection of Grove Way and Redwood Road is "just too big to be ignored" and his intent was to bring the issue to the public's attention. He also claimed the church's leaders were attempting to "keep things from us," by not conferring with the council beforehand.

The preliminary proposal includes moving the existing Trader Joe's at the corner of Redwood and Grove to a new building on the same property and, in later phases, to construct 199-units of affordable housing in a partnership with the non-profit Eden Housing.

"Why are we doing it?" asked Ron Kilby, an elder at First Presbyterian Church. "We're a church. It's about what's right for the community." Long-time residents can no longer afford to live in Castro Valley, Kilby said, adding that their proposal attempts to address the lack of new affordable housing in the area.

In Other News ...

Four Oakland councilmembers are proposing to restore some cuts proposed by the Oakland Unified School District, the East Bay Times reported. ... Last week, President Trump suggested sending undocumented immigrants to sanctuary cities such as Oakland. House Democrats are interested in calling in White House adviser Steven Miller to testify about his role in the provocative proposal. ... Oakland Animal Services said someone in the Lower Dimond District is shooting cats with pellet guns. ... The Oakland Coliseum Joint Powers Authority approved new restrictions on elected official's discount access to sporting events and concerts at the stadium and arena. ... At press time, the Oakland City Council was set to decide whether or not to allow the city administrator to begin collecting the Measure AA parcel tax. The measure failed to receive the two-third majority that voters had been told it required, but the council is reconsidering whether a simple majority is sufficient. ... Two Berkeley High students running for student body president and vice-president attempted to rig their election, Berkeleyside reported.

Former San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos passed away on April 15. ... BART General Manager Grace Crunican abruptly announced she is leaving the transit agency. ... Tesla's workers' compensation manager pressured its doctor to deny serious injury claims by employees at the Fremont auto plant, Reveal reported. ... Which East Bay corporate giant didn't pay any federal taxes last year? That would be San Ramon-based Chevron, the East Bay Times reported. ... The Valero oil refinery in Benicia, which was shut down last month for maintenance, spiking gas prices, could be back on-line by mid-May.

Californians' electric rates could skyrocket due to the cost of wildfires in the state, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. ... A new poll shows that 61 percent of California voters support Sen. Scott Wiener's proposed legislation to lower zoning restrictions around transit hubs, Curbed San Francisco reported. ... If the March 2020 California Presidential Primary was today, former Vice-President Joe Biden would be the winner with 26 percent of the vote, according to a new poll, The Hill reported. Sens. Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders each received 18 percent. ... While Democratic presidential candidate Eric Swalwell is asking for $1 from donors, Sen. Kamala Harris has received $13.2 million in contributions this year, the second largest in the massive field of candidates.

The Golden State Warriors blew a 31-point lead Monday night and lost to the Los Angeles Clippers to even the best-of-seven first round series at one game apiece. The Warriors also lost center Demarcus Cousins to a leg injury. ...

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