With one of four incumbents not seeking another term, at least one new face will be atop the Hayward City Council dais after the election in June.
But that face could turn out to be a familiar one around City Hall -- one strong contender is a popular planning commissioner, while another is a former city manager whose accomplishments are still lauded by top officials.
The field of nine hopefuls is rounded out by three incumbents, three young candidates who say they'll bring fresh ideas to the governing body, and an employee of the city of Oakland who entered the race in the final days of the filing period, which ended Wednesday.
Councilman Bill Quirk is not returning because he is running for state Assembly, but incumbents Barbara Halliday, Olden Henson and Francisco Zermeno have all mounted campaigns for re-election.
Henson is the longest continuously serving member of the current council, having been appointed in 1994 and voted back four times. Halliday was first elected in 2004 and had a previous stint on the Planning Commission dating back to 1994.
Zermeno was elected in 2008 and served on the Planning Commission from 1999 to 2007.
All tout their experience and track record on the council -- as well as continuing work that needs to be done -- as reasons they should remain.
In campaign statements, Halliday said she has focused on strengthening neighborhoods, reducing crime, enhancing the environment, revitalizing downtown and serving children and youth.
Henson states his priorities as "economic development, including job creation; establishing a gang injunction policy and process that prevents gang activities; and a strong collaborative approach with our school district focusing on districtwide performance improvement."
Zermeno said that as part of the council, he has made Hayward friendlier to small businesses, improved the quality of life in neighborhoods and worked to "weather the recession without sacrificing public safety."
Al Mendall, who has served for more than six years on the Planning Commission, has been endorsed by all seated council members and the mayor, and his name, in turn, appears among the filing signatures collected by the three incumbents.
His priorities are maintaining police and fire staffing, simplifying the permitting process for businesses, improving the city's appearance, implementing sustainable practices and making the city youth-friendly.
While Mendall announced his intentions to run last fall, a latecomer was former City Manager Greg Jones, who tweeted March 1 that he is entering the race.
Jones left his city post in 2010 while exploring a school board run, and since then he has been vocal about city policies that began under his watch. He said the city needs to stay focused on the twin priorities of crime prevention and cleanliness, and in his statement touted his experience in government finance, labor relations and the Air Force, where "I learned how to set clear goals, chart a direct course, understand the limits of resources and overcome obstacles."
Ralph Farias Jr., who ran in 2008, is back for another go because there "hasn't been much change within the past few years," according to his website. He said his background as a self-employed businessman lends him the experience to help fill vacant storefronts and help revitalize downtown, and he makes economic growth his first priority. That includes rebranding and marketing Hayward.
Farias also states that he sees an increasing public safety problem that has not been adequately addressed.
At 30, Farias is the oldest of three youthful candidates, who also include newcomer Fahim Ajaz Khan, 28. Khan described himself as an "aspiring young entrepreneur trying to make something of himself" whose goal is to one day be a real estate investor. He said he wants to bring education to the forefront and "conjoin" the council with the school board, as well as make job creation a top priority.
Fresh out of UC Santa Barbara with a political science degree is 22-year-old Peter Bufete. He also has an eye toward improving schools and wants to create a support system within the city for students, emphasizing pre- and after-school programs, particularly for low-income residents who currently don't have access to many resources. Bufete said he doesn't see a representative or advocate for youth on the council, and he would bring a fresh perspective to planning the future of Hayward.
Shahla Azimi, a revenue analyst for the city of Oakland, said she decided to run because she "just wants to see Hayward like other cities." She wants better schools and would use a council seat as a podium to put pressure on the school district. Azimi said the city needs to attract more desirable businesses that would encourage people to shop in town and not go to Fremont, Pleasanton and elsewhere.
Because of the secretary of state's random system of alphabetizing candidates, the candidates' names will appear on the June 5 ballot in the following order: Azimi, Zermeno, Khan, Jones, Halliday, Henson, Mendall, Bufete, Farias.
Henson, Halliday, Zermeno, Jones and Mendall submitted candidate statements, which cost $2,200 to place on the ballot, according to the City Clerk's Office.
For more information about the candidates, including available statements and links to websites, go to www.IBAbuzz.com/hayword.
Contact Eric Kurhi at 510-293-2473. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.