HAYWARD -- Voters on Tuesday made some significant changes in the city, choosing the first new mayor in eight years and approving a half-cent sales tax to build a new downtown library.
Councilwoman Barbara Halliday will take over as mayor in July, replacing Michael Sweeney, who is retiring. Incumbent Marvin Peixoto was re-elected to the council, and Planning Commissioner Sara Lamnin will fill a second seat on the seven-member council. One of the first tasks for the new council will be to fill a vacancy Halliday's election created.
"One of my top priorities is to pull our council together," Halliday said. "We need to get ourselves organized and fill our vacancy."
Halliday received 39 percent of the vote in Tuesday's mayor race. Councilman Mark Salinas had 32 percent, Councilman Francisco Zermeño had 22 percent and Rakesh Kumar Christian had 7 percent.
Zermeño will continue on the council through the end of his term in 2016. Salinas gave up his council spot to run for mayor.
Peixoto was the top vote-getter in the council race, with 23 percent, and Lamnin received 22 percent. They bested former AC Transit Director Ryan "Rocky" Fernandez, with 19 percent; former Planning Commissioner Julie McKillop, 17 percent; city Planning Commissioner Rodney Loche, 11 percent; Ralph Farias Jr., 5 percent; and Phillip Gallegos, 4 percent.
"The real big winner last night was Measure C," Halliday said Wednesday.
Sixty-eight percent of Hayward voters approved the half-cent sales tax increase, which needed majority approval. Much of the money will be spent to build a new library downtown, but it will also pay for more police services, fire station renovations and street repairs.
"I'm really proud of the Friends of the Library," library director Sean Reinhart said. "They worked relentlessly for many years to make this happen." Work on the new library could start next spring.
The council has 30 days after the July 8 swearing-in to fill the vacancy created by Halliday's election; her council term runs through 2016. If a majority of the council members cannot agree on an appointment, a special election would be set with the November general election, said City Clerk Miriam Lens.
The appointment could prove key to the direction the city takes, especially on development. The fate of some recent projects has been decided by a single vote on the City Council.
When Walmart sought in 2012 to open a grocery store in South Hayward, the council said no on a 4-3 vote. It approved a downtown 60-unit senior apartment project by a one-vote margin in September. Similarly, the council in March rejected by a single vote a bid to build 194 townhomes and 16,800 square feet of retail space at the old Mervyn's headquarters downtown by a single vote. Halliday voted for all three projects.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473. Follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.