HAYWARD -- It's almost like David and Goliath with a 21st century twist.
Democrat Mary Hayashi, 43, is a two-term state Assembly member who has amassed nearly $570,000 in her campaign chest and is endorsed by, among others, unions representing teachers, nurses, firefighters and police.
Her challenger, Republican Michael Havig, of Pleasanton, is a 21-year-old college student and coffee-shop barista with no previous political experience and no campaign funding or website.
The candidates are vying in the Nov. 2 election for the 18th Assembly District seat representing San Leandro, Hayward, Dublin, most of Castro Valley and Pleasanton, and a portion of Oakland, as well as the unincorporated areas of Ashland, Cherryland, San Lorenzo and Sunol. Democrats outnumber Republicans by 56 percent to 18 percent in the district, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
Havig said he was too busy to meet with a reporter, but he did return the newspaper's candidate questionnaire, citing his three main campaign issues as "education, government spending, emergency services."
Hayashi, for her part, said health care is her top priority, touting bills she has authored such as Assembly Bill 108, prohibiting health plans and insurers from rescinding an individual insurance policy, and AB 235, requiring insurers to cover treatment for psychiatric emergencies without prior authorization.
"I want to be able to continue the work that I've been doing in the Legislature," she said. "It's an exciting time on many levels. "... We are faced with many opportunities to improve health care, expand coverage and work to ensure that uninsured Californians have access to health care."
She also listed public education and economic growth as key issues, saying community college funding, in particular, is essential to train the next generation of the state's work force.
"Green technology and health care: both critical areas that will be key to the state's economic future, and I really believe we are challenged with major work force shortages in those fields," she said. "We need to invest more resources."
Hayashi disagrees with some local Republican candidates who argue that the state is unfriendly toward businesses, burdening them with excessive taxes and regulations.
"We're a leader globally in many fields such as technology and health care, and we are the eighth-largest economy in the world," she said. "The state Legislature has done great things to support job growth and economic success."
She also said she is in favor of Proposition 25, the ballot measure that would reduce the legislative votes needed to pass the state budget from two-thirds to a simple majority. She pointed out that California is one of only three states to require a supermajority vote to pass the budget -- the others being Arkansas and Rhode Island -- and the only one that also gives the governor line-item veto authority.
"An on-time budget is important," she said. "If we're going to be held accountable for on-time state budgets, then the state Legislature should have the tools to be able to meet those deadlines."
Hayashi, who earned a bachelor's degree in applied economics at the University of San Francisco and an MBA at Golden Gate University, also serves on the state's Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, is a member of the Board of Registered Nursing and was the California director of the American Public Health Association.
She is married to Superior Court Judge Dennis Hayashi.
Occupation: State Assembly member, 18th District
City of residence: Hayward
Family: Married to Dennis Hayashi
Education: Bachelor's in applied economics, University of San Francisco; MBA, Golden Gate University
Elected positions held: State Assembly, 2006 to present
Other experience: Commissioner, California Mental Health Oversight and Accountability Commission; member, Board of Registered Nursing; California director, American Public Health Association
Party affiliation: Democrat
City of residence: Pleasanton, 21 years
Family: No response
Education: Applied for bachelor's degree, sound arts, at Ex'pression College for Digital Arts in Emeryville
Elected positions held: None
Other experience: Barista at Peet's Coffee & Tea
Party affiliation: Republican