SAN LEANDRO -- Public safety and technological opportunity were common themes sounded among the nine candidates for three City Council seats in the November election.
"We need to hire more police officers," said Hermy Almonte, who is challenging incumbent Jim Prola in District 6. Almonte, currently vice president of the school board, said pension reform could free up funds to pay for the officers.
In his candidate statement, Prola said he would "continue to take the lead in making public safety a priority and keeping our neighborhoods safe."
Ursula Reed is the other incumbent running for re-election. She is facing two challengers in District 2: Bal Theatre owner Dan Dillman and school board president Morgan Mack-Rose. Reed said she wants to see city projects that she has worked on come to fruition, such as Lit San Leandro -- a fiber-optic loop being bankrolled by local businessman Patrick Kennedy that will encircle much of the city -- and the new Kaiser hospital.
Mack-Rose said that with the fiber-optic loop and the hospital, "opportunities are knocking at San Leandro's door, but without active, engaged leadership, San Leandro is going to miss out."
She added that she has been a leader who has brought people together to deliver results despite a devastating economy.
Dillman said, "There's too much wait-and-see on the council. We need our leaders to lead, not follow." He pointed
The energetic Dillman found himself at odds with the law when he was convicted this spring of battery on a peace officer, a misdemeanor. He is appealing the conviction, contending that two sheriff's investigators assaulted him in the 2010 altercation. He has filed suit against the sheriff's department.
Four candidates are running for the District 4 spot vacated by Joyce Starosciak: former city Planning Commissioner Chris Crow, city Senior Commissioner Darlene Daevu, political newcomer Justin Hutchison and city Personnel Relations Board member Benny Lee.
Daevu is running "because the recession forced me into taking action. We have to manage our city's resources carefully."
Hutchison, a lifelong San Leandro resident, wants to change the perception that city is not safe and a good place to raise a family.
"I feel the city would benefit from an average person in there with a voice," he said.
Lee's top priorities are public safety and the city's budget. He said his business experience "gives me the expertise to look at where innovative changes could increase efficiency" in city operations.
Crow said the fiber-optic loop is "a perfect example of what we're doing wrong" because the city is not offering incentives to businesses to help offset the cost of connecting to the loop. "We can't sit and wait."