HAYWARD — With only one name on the ballot, the race for the Hayward mayoral seat isn't likely to be a Tuesday night nail-biter.
While Ryan Belden, a 24-year-old Chabot College student, registered as a write-in candidate, he's at a large disadvantage in his bid to unseat popular Mayor Mike Sweeney.
"I feel very fortunate that nobody filed to be on the ballot," Sweeney said. "Hopefully, everything will go well on Tuesday."
Sweeney didn't do much campaigning, and his website was never developed beyond a splash page. However, he declined to comment on the viability of his opponent's run.
Sweeney said that if re-elected, he will continue the course he started four years ago — "cleaning up and greening up" the city. He said it's working, and cited the city's Neighborhood Partnership Program and the Keep Hayward Clean and Green Task Force as examples. He also points to the green building ordinance and climate action plan as successes in sustainable policy. As for public safety, he said nine extra police officers were acquired during his term and the city is moving toward a gang injunction program.
Belden said he offers a youthful perspective, and would bring fresh ideas to the city. He said the violence that is giving Hayward a bad reputation stems from kids who have nothing to do, and would make creating a youth center and giving them other options a priority.
Belden is a big fan of politics who has volunteered in a host of campaigns, but this is his first run for public office.
Six candidates are running for two vacant seats on the City Council. The incumbents are not in the race, opting to pursue other positions.
Ralph Farias Jr., 28, is the youngest contender. He said he's a "homegrown candidate" bringing residents a "true point of view." The food and beverage broker said his main points would be bringing businesses to Hayward, creating community solidarity and bridging the gap between the city and school district. He also wants to create more programs for youths and seniors.
Lawrence Fitzpatrick is a 51-year-old security guard who said he has unconventional ideas for the city, such as making Foothill Boulevard a toll road. He previously ran for school board, and spearheaded a failed petition drive to nullify the appointment of Jesus Armas to that board. He said he wants to see more programs offered for youths "before they become delinquents."
Mark Salinas, 39, is a college instructor and director of a youth-oriented nonprofit. He wants to make sure police and fire services remain fully funded, focus on economic development to bring jobs to the city, continue the current path of combating blight and implementing sustainable practices, and seek a stronger partnership with Hayward schools, including Cal State East Bay.
Sara Lamnin, 39, said jobs will be key for revitalization. The nonprofit program director wants to see incubator programs for green technology, and partner with schools and the business community toward those ends. She said she would "lead by listening," wants to give the community more input in government, and work to address the root causes of crime and blight.
Marvin Peixoto, 64, said he brings his experience as a six-year planning commissioner to the table. He's a staunch advocate for police and fire funding, and said the city's biggest problems are crime, blight, illegal dumping and littering.
The retired budget analyst said he has the background to handle number-crunching, and serves on the city's Sustainability Committee.
Steve Oiwa is a retired 62-year-old businessman who said he would represent the average citizen. He accepted no contributions and did not speak at any forums, saying that to do so would put him in a position where he'd be telling people lies — promises that he might not be able to keep. Oiwa said you have to be in an elected position to know what is possible.
Read profiles on all six City Council candidates on the HayWord blog at www.ibabuzz.com/hayword.
Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Contact him at 510-293-2473. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.