HAYWARD — Assemblymember Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) was unsuccessful in her bid for the District 2 seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, finishing in third place on Nov. 6.
The incumbent, Supervisor Richard Valle, retained the seat with 28,762 votes (36.10 percent), followed by Union City Mayor Mark Green with 24,441 (30.68 percent), Hayashi with 19,258 (24.17 percent), and retired deputy sheriff Mark Turnquist with 6,850 (8.60 percent).
“I want to extend my deep gratitude for your support of my campaign for Alameda County supervisor,” Hayashi posted on her website. “Your belief in my ability to serve the public has meant a lot to me, and I will continue to work on the issues important to you and California’s working families. I would like to congratulate Richard Valle on becoming supervisor of this great county, and look forward to seeing many positive changes happen for our local communities.”
Valle, a former Union City councilman, was appointed by the Board of Supervisors in June to replace Supervisor Nadia Lockyer, who resigned due to a drug and sex scandal. Her husband, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, has filed for divorce.
Hayashi, who is at the end of her third term in the Assembly, can’t run again due to term limits. Her final year in office was overshadowed by her arrest in October 2011 after walking out of the Neiman Marcus in San Francisco’s Union Square with almost $2,500 worth of merchandise. Her spokesperson said she was distracted by a call on her cell phone. She and her lawyer suggested that a benign brain tumor might have influenced her behavior, but Hayashi later said that was not the case.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Gerardo Sandoval reduced the theft charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, to which she pleaded no contest; sentenced Hayashi to three years of probation; and ordered her to pay $180 in fines and to stay at least 50 feet away from Neiman Marcus.
In a statement issued in January, Hayashi said, ““I accept responsibility and I offer apologies, not excuses … After a lifetime of public service, this has been a painful experience — but one of my own making. The simple fact is I unintentionally walked out of a store with items I had not paid for. Of course, I intended to purchase what I had, but I didn’t. Losing track of how fast you are driving is no excuse for speeding. And losing track of clothing I was purchasing is no excuse for walking out of a store without paying.”
In an interview with Bay Area News Group after announcing her candidacy, Hayashi said, “My opponents may use the issue to try to smear me, but I trust the voters to be smarter than that.”
Her decision to run for the Board of Supervisors so soon after the incident surprised some political observers. An editorial in The Oakland Tribune was headlined, “Hayashi’s latest outrage shows contempt for voters.”
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson commented, “Hayashi does possess legislative experience at the state level that none of her competitors can rival. But it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans until she can regain the trust of many constituents who could not accept her actions — or the reasons she gave for how it happened.”
Hayashi also had her share of supporters, including California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, Assembly Speaker John Perez of Los Angeles, State Sen. Ted Lieu of Torrance, Fremont City Councilmember Suzanne Lee Chan, Alameda County Board of Supervisors Vice President Joaquin Rivera, and San Leandro Teachers Association President Jonathan Sherr, along with a number of labor unions. She received a 100 percent rating from the California Congress of Seniors.
“Mary brings experience, values and leadership to Alameda County,” Steinberg said. “Mary’s work on behalf of women’s health, children’s mental health, and affordable health insurance for working families has earned your vote for county supervisor.”
Valle’s endorsers included State Sen. Ellen Corbett of San Leandro, Assemblymember Robert Wieckowski of Fremont, Alameda County Supervisors Wilma Chan, Keith Carson and Nate Miley, Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney, Newark Mayor Alan Nagy, Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy, the Alameda County Democratic Party, Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County, and Tri-Cities Democratic Forum.
Valle chose not to make Hayashi’s brush with the law an issue in the campaign, but a political action committee headed by Paul Gaspar of the Independent Physical Therapists of California produced mailers attacking Hayashi. The group was angry at her for killing a bill that would have allowed physical therapists to treat patients without a doctor’s prescription, but the mailers focused on the shoplifting incident.
The MORALS (Masses Organizing Research Against Lying and Stealing) PAC mailer used the title of the movie “There’s Something About Mary” to make a mock poster for a movie “featuring the convicted shoplifter from Sacramento.” Citing a Los Angeles Times headline, “After shoplifting plea, lawmaker seeks another office,” the mailer said, “She’s even famous in L.A.”
Referring to the Lockyer scandal, the mailer said, “We can’t have another supervisor who plays by her own rules.”
Before Lockyer’s resignation, Hayashi had expressed interest in running for the State Senate seat currently held by Corbett, who will be termed out in 2014. Hayashi has not yet announced her future plans.
One of Hayashi’s endosers, Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco), is also termed out and is running for the State Board of Equalization in 2014.