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May 16, 2006 > Matt Jimenez, Hayward City Council

Matt Jimenez, Hayward City Council

by Steve Warga

Matt Jimenez, lifelong Hayward resident, proudly describes the rare Spanish Cork Oak tree dominating the stairway down to the entry of his home. He explains how his Spanish ancestors would harvest the spongy bark to make cork. Planted in 1974, the large trunk sweeps jauntily across the stairs, angling uphill toward the sunlight as a welcoming landmark. Strong, direct and solid, tree and owner share much in the way of character. Matteo "Matt" Jimenez ran for a seat on the City Council eight years after he planted his distinctive tree. Today, 24 years later, he seeks voter approval for one last term. There's still a thing or two he'd like to straighten out before retiring from politics.

TCV: You've stated that you'll retire after this next term, which would be your seventh. Can you tell us why you want one more term?

Jimenez: The Council needs somebody to think like I do. Last year, the Council voted to double their own salaries and the Mayor's. I opposed that act and I still believe it was not the right thing to do. It was wrong to give ourselves such a big increase when the City employees only received cost-of-living raises.

The other issue I vigorously oppose is the loop of one-way streets through downtown. This will really hurt the merchants in the area. Seventy-five of them signed a petition against this idea, but mine was the only dissenting vote on the council. It's unfair to those merchants and it won't ease the traffic congestion. I was a downtown merchant myself. When I was a boy, I sold newspapers on the corner of Mission and B Street, only back then Mission was known as Castro Street. We relied on the traffic for our sales and today's merchants still do the same.

TCV: How did you first come to run for a seat on the City Council?

Jimenez: Well, I retired from the Hayward Fire Department in 1977 after 25 years as the Chief. I owned a business for awhile and continued my community activities, including founding the Hayward Boys and Girls Club. They named the Matt Jimenez Community Center after me. In 1982, many people encouraged me to run for City Council and that's what I did. Six terms and 24 years later, I'm still here and ready for one more term.

I've been endorsed by the Hayward Police Officers PAC; the Hayward Firefighters PAC; the Hayward Association of Management Employees and numerous unions. They know I stand for their interests with the Council.

TCV: You voted with the majority authorizing the City Manager's office to prepare a Purchase Agreement to sell the City Center Parking Garage for $1.5 million. Any comments or thoughts on this?

Jimenez: It's a good deal if the price is right. I've taken a look at the deal and I think the price should be a little higher. Still, our City Manager, Jesus Armas is the one who put this package together and he's done a lot of research.

TCV: On a personal level, what does it mean to be a City Councilman? >

Jimenez: It means that I'm playing a role for the city that I love and appreciate all it's done for me. I want to see things go right. Hayward's my home! Except for the time I spent in the Navy during WWII, I've lived all my life here. I raised my family here. I feel like Hayward's been good to me and I like being able to try doing some good in return for the city's citizens.

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