HAYWARD — As schools trustee Sarah Gonzales turned in her resignation papers on Monday, Councilwoman Anna May made the announcement that she's not seeking re-election, instead gunning for a spot on the board that Gonzales is leaving.
The moves were timely but coincidental — Gonzales cited health and family reasons for leaving, while May said her decision came after putting out feelers late last year.
"Schools are more important right now," she said. "It's going to take bold leadership to change things, not more of the same."
Gonzales served on the Hayward Unified School District board for six years and was re-elected in 2008. Her departure means the district may make a provisional appointment until November, when board President Paul Frumkin and trustee Sheila Sims will both be up for re-election, and someone will be elected to serve the remaining two years of Gonzales' term.
May said she has other parties lined up as running mates, but names were not available at press time.
Her departure after serving a two-year term means the City Council will have two spots up for grabs in the next election; Councilman Kevin Dowling is running for Alameda County supervisor.
Gonzales, 59, said she and her domestic partner were looking for a home in San Diego or Riverside to be closer to an ailing relative. She said the process involved in such a relocation, as well as recent shoulder-replacement surgery, makes it "impossible to do the hard work" required of a board member.
"You reach a certain age, and your responsibilities change toward family members," she said.
Gonzales said the decision was finalized over the weekend when she found a buyer for her Hayward house.
She said her resignation had nothing to do with moments of hostility seen at board meetings, particularly between herself and trustee Luis Reynoso.
"They appeared contentious on camera," she said. "But our personal relationship was cordial. We have a difference in perspective on our roles as school board members."
The departure leaves the board with three members who were first elected in 2008, and Frumkin, who has served since being appointed to fill a vacancy in 2001.
Hayward trustees have daunting tasks at hand.
The district is looking to cut $18 million from its $180 million general fund, and was recently appointed a fiscal adviser by Alameda County. It had the worst standardized test scores in the county last year, and is in the process of restructuring two of its poorest-performing elementary schools.
Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Contact him at 510-293-2473.