HAYWARD — A summer recess mostly bereft of local politics comes to an end Tuesday as the Hayward City Council returns to the dais.

The agenda this week is nothing that will ruffle too many feathers — infill development projects, traffic median improvements and annual investment reports — but government is back in session and so is the election cycle.

Perhaps more revealing, at least from the purely political end of things, was Sunday's annual Fall Festival hosted by the Hayward Demos Democratic Club.

Held in the backyard of Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele, the occasion is where many veteran and aspiring politicos in this progressive-dominated city come every September to meet and greet.

"Hi, I'm Linda Bennett and I notice you and I are going to be competitors," Bennett announced to surprised fellow partygoer Steve Bristow.

She shook the political newcomer's hand near a grove of oak and poplar trees.

Bennett, a psychotherapist who tried for council in 1994 and 2000, said she is giving it another go. Bristow, a retired

9-1-1 dispatcher for the city of Oakland, is making his first run at elected office.

Next summer's election will be unusual in that five of the seven seats on the council are up for grabs at one time.

"That should be gearing up like rightnow," said City Councilwoman Doris Rodriquez, asked earlier on Sunday if anyone is jostling yet for the seats.


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"You've got an empty seat in addition to four occupied ones and that's a rarity. It's wide open."

One seat is empty because Rodriquez pledged to serve only two years when the council appointed her to replace Councilman Matt Jimenez following his death in July 2006.

Whoever wins that seat will serve for only two years, and then the seat will revert back to a 4-year one beginning in 2010.

The other four seats are for four-year terms and all are occupied by incumbents who have not indicated if they intend on keeping them.

Bill Ward, the council's longest-serving member, said by telephone Sunday that entering into an election season "changes the dynamics of the City Council."

"You tend to see more people coming out to meetings who may want to be candidates," Ward said, adding that he doesn't believe the heightened election season politics are as significant as they are in other Bay Area cities.

For his own part, Ward said it is "too early" to say if he will run for a seventh consecutive four-year term in June.

Mayor Mike Sweeney and Councilman Kevin Dowling are the only two officials who will be able to continue holding their seats without a re-election campaign next year — their terms don't expire until 2010.

"I don't see a lot of activity as far as potential candidates," Dowling said Sunday before the Demos party. "Now that summer's over, that could change."

Within a few hours, it had. Bristow said he is running for the two-year seat. Bennett, moments later, told him without elaborating that he should run for the four-year seat.

"I'm a political newcomer, so to speak," Bristow said in a brief interview. "I'm not a threat to anybody on the council."

City Council members Olden Henson, Barbara Halliday and Bill Quirk also face re-election campaigns in June if they want to stay in office for another four years.

Halliday and Henson couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.

Quirk was out of state because of a death in the family and was not available for comment. Bristow, a friend, said he drove Quirk to the airport.

Although elected officials in the area are almost exclusively registered Democrats, that doesn't mean everyone gets the nod of the influential Demos Club.

And as Bristow learned this weekend, attendance at the annual affair is considered by some club members to be mandatory.

"I called him and told him he'd better get here," said Edith Looney, a former Alameda County Planning Commissioner. "He had Raiders tickets."