HAYWARD -- Two incumbents are aiming to keep their posts on the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District board, while a returning challenger has emerged to push for her own ideas.

Tight economic times and state money grabs have affected the district, but board members said they didn't have to cut staff or close facilities.

Challenger Audie Bock -- who also is running for a spot on the Hayward school board -- joins incumbents Paul Hodges Jr. and Carol Pereira in saying that's the biggest challenge the district faces: offering the same for less.

Bock ran against Hodges for a two-year term in 2008, and got nearly 47 percent of the vote. She said there is a need for more equestrian programs and ones that emphasize the area's agricultural heritage.

"It's really a shame that to do large animal husbandry, kids have to go out to Livermore," she said.

Bock said she'd like to see more fine arts programs for seniors, and added that her background in equestrian and agricultural education, as well as fine arts, makes her someone who would expand the board's knowledge.

"There are people on the board who might represent golf, or soccer, but no one with my particular areas of expertise," she said. "HARD is so broad in what it does, and there's a lot more we could be focusing on."

Hodges praised the work done by HARD staff and said they intend to continue their current course.

"Until the state can take care of its own financing, it's not just HARD -- everybody is in the same boat," he said. "We've been trying everything we can over the last couple years to still provide the same quality parks, and keep them looking good."

He said it's been tough -- many of the parks were built in the 1950s and '60s, and they're starting to show their age. But by spacing out repairs and improvements, and going after grants whenever they can, Hodges said they've been doing all right and he'd like voters to allow him to continue the work.

"There haven't been any major controversies," he said. "Everyone is happy with what we're doing."

Pereira agreed, and said they are maintaining despite it being the worst economic times for the district that she's seen in 28 years on the board.

"We're making ends meet," she said. "HARD is not broken, we're hanging in there."

Pereira credited HARD staff for forgoing a raise, and said the board has been prudent in making decisions on when and how to spend funds.

"Park by park, facility by facility, we've been doing repairs," she said.

Pereira said she is particularly excited about the acquisition of a San Lorenzo church property, which in time they can turn into a park in an underserved area.

"It's simply a matter of balancing money, following a budget," she said "You just can't blow it all in one year, trying to do everything."

Contact Eric Kurhi at 510-293-2473. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi. Read our blog at www.ibabuzz.com/hayword.

Hayward Area Recreation/Park board

AUDIE BOCK
Age: 64
Occupation: Teacher, scholarship director
City of residence: Fairview, 5 years
Local businesses, properties owned: Saddle Arabians Show and Pleasure Horses, the Rides Foundation, scholarship affiliate of East Bay Community Foundation, Oakland.
Family: Adult daughter
Education: UC Berkeley, bachelor's from Wellesley College, master's and Ph.D. from Harvard.
Elected positions held: State Assembly, 16th District, 1999-00
Other experience: Sun Gallery board, Japan Society of Northern California board and acting director, Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival board and coordinator, Theater of Yugen board.

PAUL HODGES JR.
Age: 62
Occupation: Hayward elementary schoolteacher
City of residence: Hayward, 55 years
Local businesses, properties owned: With wife, owns Hodges Realty, homeowner.
Family: Wife, one son, three daughters
Education: Hayward schools, Chabot College, bachelor's and credentials from Cal State Hayward, special education credential from Sacramento State
Elected positions held: Appointed to HARD board in 2007, elected in 2008
Other experience: HARD Citizens Advisory Committee, East Bay Regional Park District Public Advisory Committee, various Hayward Unified committees, Hayward Youth Soccer League board, Hayward Education Foundation board

CAROL PEREIRA
Age: 67
Occupation: Administrative assistant, incumbent HARD board member
City of residence: Hayward and Fairview, 67 years
Local businesses, properties owned: Homeowner
Family: Widowed, remarried, six children, 16 grandchildren
Education: Hayward High graduate
Elected positions held: HARD director for 28 years
Other experience: Alameda County Parks and Historical Commission, Bay Area Parks Council, California Association of Park and Recreation Districts, Hayward Environmental Quality Commission.