Fremont election coverage

This week’s East Bay Express has an article on the three (four?) -man race for Fremont mayor, and how it maps out in terms of the baseball village issue. The piece was penned by Robert Gammon, who also co-wrote the excellent “How we got to this point” article from two years ago. This comes on the heels of Wes Bowers’ coverage (Fremont Bulletin) of a candidate forum from two weeks ago.

During the initial discussions about the plan, both Mayor Bob Wasserman and Councilman Steve Cho painted themselves as supportive of it, though Cho distinguished himself in remarking that a public vote would be a proper thing to do. He also said at the time that he felt that voters would support the plan. Wasserman and the other council members did not support a referendum, declaring that they didn’t support ballot box planning.

The third mayoral candidate is former Mayor Gus Morrison, who was termed out prior to Wasserman assuming the reins. Morrison has been to date the most vocal critic of the plan, even after a one-on-one with Lew Wolff.

Morrison’s interest anti-growth stance has been well documented in Fremont. There’s an interesting wrinkle to it, captured in this quote:

“Originally downtown was supposed to be equidistant between 880 and 238. We had a plan for a life center when I left office the only life center between Oakland and Santana Row and it sort of died after I left,” he said. “Now the A’s want to come along and build a project with a life center the only one between Oakland and Santana Row and we can’t have two. There seems to be a conflict.”

So is the issue so much about the development in general, or where the development is located? There’s no chance of the A’s looking to downtown Fremont even though it has BART, because the area is 2 miles of traffic lights away from either 880 or 680. Are there business interests who’d prefer to push such a development downtown? Is that realistic?

He’s not alone in his disapproval. Local Sierra Club chapter leader, Vinnie Bacon, is running for city council. Bacon has also been against the project from the beginning. Two city council spots are up for election, and those could also have a huge effect on the plan’s status. Cho’s term is up at the end of the year, as is Councilman Bob Wieckowski, a noted plan supporter.

A look at the LWV roster of candidates for the two council seats shows a laundry list of interests: public safety, budget/revenue matters, growth, business development. Another council candidate, Alan Stirling, is obviously anti-stadium when he said this:

“Not one sports stadium in the history of this country has been built without public money,” he said. “You have to look at your money when looking at this process. (Teams) have walked away from deals when public money wasn’t offered.”

I can name a stadium that was built without public money: Stanford Stadium. And it was built in record time, by a developer who knew what he wanted, and partnered with public and private entities to get it done. The quote above smacks of vague generalism, and isn’t reflective of the current political/economic environment in California, and to a finer point, the Bay Area.

I can’t say I know much about any of the other candidates. Planning commissioner Suzanne Chan and Larry Montgomery are supporters of the plan. Curiously, Montgomery supports building a convention center adjacent to the baseball village. As a San Jose resident, I’m an outsider to the process and have my own home issues to worry about (BART to San Jose).

The desirable outcome for plan supporters would be to have incumbents Wasserman and Wieckowski to keep their seats and leave the final seat up for grabs. Even if Bacon were to get the final seat, that would leave the Mayor and four out of five councilmembers as supporters of the plan. The nightmare scenario for the Wolffs would have Morrison winning and Bacon displacing Wieckowski.

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