February 13, 2007

City Council Appoints Jim Prola to District 6 Council Seat

Jim ProlaAt a special meeting held on Tuesday, February 13, 2007, the San Leandro City Council voted to appoint Jim Prola to the District 6 City Council seat vacated when Tony Santos was elected Mayor in November 2006.

With Councilmember Bill Stephens absent, Mayor Santos started the meeting by noting that the questions to be asked of the candidates were developed by Vice Mayor Surlene Grant and Santos and the City Council were seeing them for the first time. Each candidates would be given 30 minutes to answer the eight questions. Public comments were limited to 30 minutes total and each speaker was limited to about a minute of speaking on behalf of a candidate.

Six people spoke on behalf of Jim Prola, including Andy Kopp of the San Leandro Community Action Network, Robin Torello of the Alameda County Democratic Party, and Obray Van Buren of the Central Labor Council of Alameda County. Recreation and Parks Commissioner Barbara Sidari, Joe Collier, and former Councilmember Howard Kerr spoke on behalf of Esther Collier. James McGee spoke on behalf of Adan Alonzo. Human Services Commissioner Amada Robles and Paul Elizondo spoke on behalf of Carmen Fewless, who also serves as a Human Resources Commissioner. Dr. Paul Dancy, chairman of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce's African-American Business Council, spoke on behalf of Estelle Clemons. John Manuel and Tom Silva also spoke, but not on behalf of individual candidates.

Most of the candidates moved through the eight questions quickly and well within the 30-minute time limit. Candidates largely agreed that the main issues facing District 6 are related to the airport, traffic, and the Marina. Observers noted that Clemons appeared to perform better than the other candidates during the interviews.

After the interviews, the first vote was taken and the results are shown in the following table:







GregoryGrantSouzaStarosciakSantosTOTAL
AlonzoX1
ClemonsX1
Collier0
DavisX1
FewlessX1
ProlaX1

Based on the results, Collier was eliminated from further consideration for the Council seat.

A second vote had the following results:






GregoryGrantSouzaStarosciakSantosTOTAL
Alonzo0
ClemonsX1
DavisX1
FewlessX1
ProlaXX2

Based on the results, Alonzo was eliminated from further consideration for the Council seat.

After arguments were made by Councilmembers in support of those they had voted for, Mayor Santos expressed dissatisfaction with all of the candidates' answers to the top issues facing District 6. At first, he said that nobody mentioned the transfer station, but other Councilmembers and the audience noted that Clemons had brought up the transfer station in her answer. Santos went on to note some issues facing District 6, including what is to be done to Doolittle Drive and the pollution that has resulted in elevated asthma rates. Santos expressed concern about appointing a former city employee, a reference to Ray Davis, who previously served in the City of San Leandro Transportation Department. Noting that Alonzo may not have adequately expressed the magnitude of his accomplishments while answering the interview questions, Santos stated that Alonza knocked on 4,000 doors in his effort to mobilize residents against a plan to construct a bridge in the Sobrante Park/Brookside area.

Councilmember Souza asked Santos to explain why he had concerns about a former employee being appointed, but Santos said that it was a personal matter.

After Santos asked if the Council was ready to vote, the consensus was no and Vice Mayor Grant said that more discussion was needed. Grant noted that "on the average, everyone [the candidates] were good." Grant said that she stood for inclusion and she didn't want to go back to the past. She said that some people with SLCAN had said that they wanted someone of color on the City Council but backed Prola instead. When Grant said that she would give up her vote for Clemons, some in the audience shouted "No!"

Then former Republican candidate for State Senator Lou Filipovich asked if he could raise a point of order and Mayor Santos politely but steadfastly declined.

Starosciak said that she was in a "difficult position" and that "any one [of the candidates] would be good." Souza supported Grant and said that people lobbying for diversity supported Prola instead. Souza also wondered aloud which of the candidates would win in an election. Santos noted that he supported Larry Taft, one of the first black candidates for office in San Leandro.

The results of the third vote by the City Council:





GregoryGrantSouzaStarosciakSantosTOTAL
ClemonsX1
Davis0
FewlessXX2
ProlaXX2

Based on the results, Davis and Clemons were eliminated from further consideration for the Council seat.

After a ten-minute break, a fourth vote was taken:



GregoryGrantSouzaStarosciakSantosTOTAL
FewlessXX2
ProlaXXX3

After the fourth vote, Mayor Santos said that he would switch his vote to Prola and on a motion by Mayor Santos and seconded by Starosciak, the City Council unanimously appointed Jim Prola to the District 6 City Council seat. Prola was sworn in by City Clerk Marian Handa and the meeting was adjourned.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at February 13, 2007 10:32 PM | TrackBack
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