SAN LEANDRO -- Two incumbents and two newcomers are seeking three seats on the Eden Township Healthcare District board on Nov. 2, though the district's future -- and the board's responsibilities -- is unknown until legal issues over San Leandro Hospital are resolved.
The incumbents are Carole Rogers and William West. The challengers are Les Friedman and Susan Reisz.
The district owns the hospital, but as part of a 2008 agreement, Sutter Health -- which runs the facility -- has the option to buy it. Sutter wants to do that and in turn sell it to Alameda County Medical Center, which would close the emergency room and acute-care facility, turning it into a rehabilitation center.
The district is trying to block the sale on the grounds that conflicts of interest between board members and Sutter in 2008 render the agreement invalid. In such a case, the district would retain control of the hospital. But if the judge rules against Eden Township, the board will have to reconsider its purpose as the district no longer will oversee any medical centers.
There could be a summary judgment on the matter by the end of the month, board members said.
The district's stated goal -- supported by all candidates -- is to keep the San Leandro Hospital emergency and acute-care facilities open.
Friedman said he wants a spot on the board in part so he can see what's going on behind the scenes in closed sessions.
"There's a lot of stuff we don't know," he said. "Too many things happen in executive sessions that nobody out there can attend."
He said there needs to be a close inspection of contracts between Eden Township and Sutter, and the reasoning behind them. He added that the board needs to make sure it doesn't have the kind of conflict of interest issues it has had in the past.
"I've always been taught that if there's even just the appearance of a conflict of interest, you recuse yourself," he said.
Reisz said she's running so she can reinforce the effort to keep the hospital running, as a member of the community with strong ties to the facility.
"I worked at San Leandro Hospital for 29 years, and I saw a lot of things," she said. "I go to the board meetings, I've been listening and seeing what's going on."
Reisz, who is a longtime community activist, stressed the importance of keeping the hospital under district control, and said she doesn't think the legal issues will be resolved anytime soon.
"I'm just concerned with losing the hospital," she said. "If you've lived in the town, and had that hospital there for you all your life, and then it was gone, what would you do?"
Rogers, the board's chairwoman, said she's prepared to face the future of the district regardless of the lawsuit's outcome.
"If we win the lawsuit, then we get to negotiate with Sutter," she said. "Whatever services San Leandro Hospital provides would have to be approved by the board."
Rogers disagrees with Sutter's assertion that the hospital is a money-losing entity, and added she would like to see Sutter start making improvements to the hospital that it agreed to do in exchange for paying no rent.
And if they lose the lawsuit, Rogers said they will have to consider the district's existence possibly as a philanthropic organization. She said they have a committee meeting in November to discuss the matter.
William West, appointed in 2009, said he considers the field to be full of qualified candidates, but he has experience.
"I've been with this group for one year, and it has been pretty intense," he said. "We are in the middle of a crisis."
West said he's running because the job the board started is not done.
"The work is ongoing," he said. "The district board will be nothing more than a landlord for two medical office buildings if our remaining acute care hospital is closed."
He said the board's current duty is to support the legal effort, and said it is "something that may be a lot further advanced by the time the election comes up."
Occupation: Attorney, arbitrator, real estate broker
City of residence: San Leandro
Local businesses, properties owned: Home, investment properties
Education: Master's degree in economics, jurisdoctorate
Elected positions held: None
Other experience: 32 years of federal and military experience
Occupation: Retired medical office manager
City of residence: San Leandro, 32 years
Local businesses, properties owned: None
Education: Sonoma Valley High School, two years of junior college
Elected positions held: None
Occupation: Registered nurse
City of residence: San Leandro, 6 months;, previously Castro Valley, 15 years
Local businesses, properties owned: Transbay Locksmiths
Family: Two sons, one daughter, three grandchildren
Education: Master's in public health from UC Berkeley
Elected positions held: Eden Township since 2006
Other experience: 20 years in health management consulting
Occupation: Semiretired orthopedic surgeon
City of residence: San Leandro, 44 years
Local businesses, properties owned: No response
Family: Three adult children
Education: Stanford University School of Medicine
Elected positions held: Appointed to Eden Township one year ago