In February, a unified seven-member Hayward City Council held its ground against a powerful labor union and imposed concessions on maintenance and clerical workers similar to those already agreed to by police and firefighters.
It took political courage, especially in an election year. And, while painful, it had to be done. Even with those concessions, more cuts are needed or the city will go broke in four years.
That's why June 3 election voters should back candidates who best understand the city's fiscal plight, will continue holding the line and aren't afraid to make more tough decisions.
For mayor, that's Councilwoman Barbara Halliday. For City Council, we endorse incumbent Marvin Peixoto and Planning Commissioner Rodney Loché.
The importance of electing leaders with backbone cannot be overstated. Even with the imposed concessions, Hayward's 10-year budget forecast shows annual structural deficits rising from $2.5 million this year to $23 million in 10 years, but the city's reserves will be exhausted long before that.
Meanwhile, the pension and retiree health plans are only about 60 percent funded with a $372 million shortfall. That's equal to five years of base salaries for city workers. It will take decades to pay off that debt. Any deferral of payments will make the situation worse.
The City Council had hoped to reach an agreement with maintenance and clerical workers. But when leaders from the Service Employees International Union balked, the council had no choice but to impose the one-year contract.
It could have been avoided, but shortsighted SEIU leaders were blind to the city's financial plight -- and how their intransigence endangers funds needed to keep their own members employed.
The three council members seeking the mayoral post -- Halliday, Francisco Zermeño and Mark Salinas -- understand this. We endorse Halliday, a retired insurance claims supervisor who has served longest on the council, because she best understands that the city's fiscal solvency is at stake.
Of the council candidates, we endorse incumbent Peixoto and Loché for the same reason. Julie McKillop, Rocky Fernandez and Sara Lamnin (the latter two backed by SEIU) have unrealistic ideas about what it will take to solve the city's financial crisis.
Council candidates Ralph Farias did not attend our interview. We dismiss mayoral candidate Rakesh Kumar Christian and council hopeful Phillip Gallegos because they know nothing about municipal finances or the role of city government.
At such a critical time, Hayward needs elected leaders who have done their homework.