David Erlich pulled papers last week to run for the District 4 San Leandro City Council seat. Erlich joins Chris Crow, Darlene Daevu, and Benny Lee as the fourth potential seat being vacated by Joyce Starosciak, who resigned as of August 1, 2012.
Erlich spoke at a recent meeting of the City Council, criticizing the appointment of Bridge Housing employee Kevin Leichner to the Planning Commission. Erlich, who moved to San Leandro from Lancaster, is now the only candidate registered as a Republican. In 2010, Erlich ran for the Republican Central Committee in the 36th Assembly District, finishing eighth out of 11 candidates. Erlich did not respond to a request for additional information.
The deadline to complete the filing to be a candidate is Friday, August 10.
The election will be held on November 6, 2012. The City Council seats for Districts 2, 4, and 6 are up for election.
After lengthy discussions, two moratoriums, and a proposed ban on marijuana facilities with a sunset clause, the San Leandro City Council decided to reject a proposed ban on marijuana facilities at its meeting on July 16, 2012. An ordinance for regulating marijuana facilities will now go to the Rules Committee, where Councilmembers will work with staff to provide direction in crafting an ordinance. The members of that committee are Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Councilmembers Jim Prola and Diana Souza.
Nine speakers spoke against an ordinance banning marijuana facilities, including District 4 City Council candidate Chris Crow, who argued that a ban would violate the First Amendment rights of patients. District 2 City Council candidate Dan Dillman also spoke against the proposed ordinance. Three speakers spoke in favor of a ban, including Benny Lee, one of Crow's opponents.
Prola spoke at length against a ban on marijuana facilities, as he has done during previous discussions. Souza and Starosciak made it clear that they supported a complete ban, while Councilmember Pauline Cutter said that she would support the alternative to the ordinance banning marijuana facilities. Councilmember Ursula Reed admitted she had been “on the fence” about medical marijuana because she doesn't want to open the door on crime, despite having many friends and relatives who have cancer.
Mayor Stephen Cassidy, who had supported an ordinance banning marijuana dispensaries at previous meetings, joined the new majority opposed to a ban. Cassidy stated, “I'm also concerned, given the actions of the Assistant United States Attorney General for the Northern District of California [Melinda Haag], that the option of adequate nearby access for San Leandrans is at-risk and potentially disappearing. You cannot say that you are in support of medical marijuana but then not allow patients to have the opportunity to purchase it.... I think we have an Assistant [U.S.] Attorney General that is operating as a bully and I don't like bullies and I think San Leandro has to stand up and be accounted for in this process.
The City Council's decision went against City staff's recommendation to “add Municipal Code Chapter 4-33 prohibiting the establishment and operation of Medical Marijuana Cooperatives, Collectives, Dispensaries and Cultivation Facilities in the City of San Leandro.” At the end of the Law Enforcement Analysis section of the staff report, the San Leandro Police indicated its strong and absolute support of the ordinance banning marijuana facilities, stating “The San Leandro Police Department supports all efforts to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, cooperatives, collectives, cultivation, and grow facilities.”
The history of San Leandro's prohibitions of dispensaries dates back to December 2004 when the City Council enacted a moratorium on marijuana dispensaries to prevent one from opening in San Leandro. Subsequent ordinances were passed in January 2005 and January 2006. The moratorium lapsed in December 2006, but was reinstated in October 2010. A staff report in November 2010 recommended that the City Council enact a 22-month moratorium, but the City Council voted for a 10-month moratorium. In September 2011, that moratorium was subsequently extended until September 2012 and cannot be extended because the State of California places time limits on the urgency ordinance used to enact the moratorium.
At the June 18, 2012, City Council meeting, the staff report recommended an ordinance to permanently ban marijuana facilities so that a ban would be in place before the moratorium expired. Prola, however, offered a motion to delay consideration of the ordinance until after the California Supreme Court ruled on two relevant cases. Vice Mayor Michael Gregory seconded the motion, which was defeated 5-2. Councilmember Joyce Starosciak subsequently motioned to direct staff to draft an ordinance banning marijuana facilities, as recommended in the staff report. Souza seconded the motion, which failed 4-3. Councilmember Pauline Cutter also voted in favor of directing staff to draft an ordinance banning marijuana facilities. Cutter then offered what seemed to be a compromise, motioning to direct staff to draft an ordinance that would ban “medical marijuana cooperatives, collectives, dispensaries and cultivation facilities in the City of San Leandro” until June 30, 2013.” That motion passed 6-1, with Prola voting against it. The draft ordinance banning marijuana facilities was on the July 2, 2012, City Council agenda, but was pulled after the California Second District Court of Appeals ruled that a municipality could not impose a complete ban on medical marijuana facilities.
An ordinance to regulate marijuana facilities will be discussed at the August 28, 2012, meeting of the Rules and Communications Committee. The meeting is scheduled to start at 4:30pm, but no location was available as of July 29.
The San Leandro City Council will begin the process of appointing a replacement for Councilmember Joyce Starosciak at its July 16 meeting. Starosciak, the Councilmember for District 4, announced that she would move out of San Leandro in July or August, leaving her seat vacant.
The recommendation from staff is to declare its intention to appoint a replacement, direct staff to provide public notice of the vacancy and the application process, and approve the timeline and process for the appointment.
According to the analysis in the staff report, "In order to meet the 60-day timeframe required by the Charter, staff recommends that the Council approve an appointment process and timeline tonight similar to past Council appointment processes, so the application process can commence during the August recess."
The draft application is the same as that used in 2007, which includes current employment information and responsibilities and the following as part of a questionnaire:
Applicants must be a registered voter and resident of District 4 for the 30 days preceding the appointment. During the 2007 appointment process, applicants were also required to submit valid signatures from 20 registered voters. That requirement eliminated one of the 12 applicants in 2007.
The staff report notes that the City Council may "establish criteria beyond the basic qualifications" such as participation on City Council, Board/Commission or committee, diversity, and/or not a candidate for elected office.
If the City Council appoints someone who is running for the seat, it will be a huge advantage for that person in the November 2012 election. Since 1970, only three incumbents have been defeated: Councilmember Al Nahm in 1974, Mayor John Faria in 1994, and Mayor Tony Santos in 2010.
The proposed schedule includes a period to advertise the vacancy from July 23 to July 27, an application period from July 30 to August 17, with public interviews and appointment of the new District 4 Councilmember on September 4 or September 10. The newly appointed Councilmember would serve until January 1, 2013.
The application period overlaps the nomination period for City Council candidates, which starts on July 16 and ends on August 10, 2012. So far, Chris Crow, Darlene Daevu, and Benny Lee have filed paperwork to run for the District 4 seat.
The San Leandro City Council meets on July 16 at 7pm at the Council Chambers located at 835 E. 14th Street.
On July 2, 2012, San Leandro Councilmember Joyce Starosciak read this statement during the City Council Reports and Announcements portion of the agenda:
To the City Council and the community of San Leandro, I want you to know that I love San Leandro with all my heart. And I've always pictured myself living here the rest of my life. At this time, however, I have made the decision to move out of the Bay Area. As you may guess, this has been a lengthy and very difficult decision to make. Born and raised in San Leandro, I have often said that the soil is literally in my bones.
When I lost the election for Mayor of San Leandro, I was heartbroken. In order to move on from the daily reminder of this loss, it has become necessary to leave. While I would desire to finish my term as City Councilmember in December, my family is first priority. With my son starting high school in the fall and my daughter starting Junior High, this summer is clearly the best time for them to make a large change in their lives. My priority is to make the adjustment easiest on them.
We will be moving this summer and my council seat will become vacant as soon as I am disqualified to serve. I expect this to occur around the beginning of August. I love San Leandro. It has been a wonderful place to raise my family. I am thankful and honored to have had the chance to serve in elected and appointed office for over 14 years in this very special city.
I have appreciated all the community engagement and the energy from friends, colleagues, and residents that I've met through the years. I'm confident that San Leandro is on the right path and will soon be a world class city with a new hospital, a revitalized shoreline and a bustling downtown.
I wish for San Leandro all the best and a bright future. We will not be far away and will return often to watch as you bloom and prosper.
With warm regards and God's gracious blessings, Joyce Starosciak, San Leandro City Councilmember, District 4
According to Section 250 of the San Leandro City Charter, the City Council must appoint a replacement within 60 days of a vacancy or hold a special election. Since a special election means additional costs and could result in a very short term of office for the winner, the San Leandro City Council is expected to appoint a replacement.
As part of her stump speech while campaigning for Mayor, Starosciak said that she was born and raised in San Leandro, unlike her opponents, who moved to San Leandro as adults. Starosciak attended Pacific High School but graduated from San Leandro High when Pacific High was closed. Her website still states, "I have always been proud of my hometown…I have a true dedication to our future."
Starosciak couldn't have run for re-election anyway since term limits restrict City Councilmembers to two consecutive terms. Three candidates have already filed to run for Starosciak's seat in the November 2012 election: Darlene Daevu, Chris Crow, and Benny Lee.
The last time the City Council appointed a Councilmember was in February 2007 when Jim Prola replaced Tony Santos. Twelve people applied for that appointment. In July 2001, the City Council appointed Orval "OB" Badger to replace Gordon Galvan, who resigned from the City Council.
Starosciak served as on the Recreation and Parks Commission from 1993 to 1994, before she was elected to the San Leandro School Board Area 4 seat over Wayne Jeffries in 1994. After moving to a different part of San Leandro, Starosciak was elected to the District 4 City Council seat in a runoff election against Mike Mahoney in 2005. In 2008, Starosciak was re-elected after defeating Paul Gonzales and Lou Filipovich. Most recently, Starosciak lost her campaign for Mayor, coming in third behind Stephen Cassidy and Santos.