May 30, 2006 > Brian Schott, candidate for Hayward mayor
Brian Schott, candidate for Hayward mayor
by Steve Warga
Brian Schott is a Hayward native, successful business man and devoted civic booster. He wants to be the mayor because he believes the city needs a fresh perspective. Schott believes his experience in the private sector is badly needed in the political arena.
TCV: You've been described as a "late entrant" in the race for mayor.
Schott: Late only in the sense of not announcing my candidacy before I filed my papers in the middle of the filing period. I had conversations with key people last summer. Then it looked like one candidate or another might run against my opponent. When none of them filed, I decided Hayward needed an alternative to the status quo. We need a mayor who can point the city in a new direction and begin addressing some very critical problems.
Although my opponent is not the incumbent, he's still a big part of the political network that has controlled Hayward for years. He's been on the city council and he's been mayor, yet does not list these experiences as part of his qualifications. Why is that?
TCV: Are police services adequate for Hayward?
Schott: All other problems aside, I believe safety should be the number one concern of city leaders. What good is health care if you and your family can't walk the streets safely? What good is affordable housing? What good are better schools if the kids aren't safe there? You send a lone cop to some parts of Hayward on a Friday night, armed with a handgun and Taser and he'll be outgunned. All other problems aside, safety must be our first concern. We need more officers.
Do we have a drug problem? The City Manager says 'no.' Well maybe we should go ask one of the guys dealing on street corners. We've underfunded the police department, forcing them to eliminate gang and narcotics units. Our streets are often not safe and that can't continue.
TCV: You oppose the planned sale of the City Center Parking Garage, right?
Schott: Well, it raises a lot more questions than answers. City Council members don't seem to know what a parking space is worth these days. New parking garages are going up for $15,000 to $22,000 per space. Now we're looking at selling our garage for about $2,100 per space. That doesn't make any sense, even if you account for the retrofitting costs. It's still way below market value. Why such a low price? And what happens if the buyers don't raze the 11 story building by the first of the year? Will they lose the parking garage? There doesn't seem to be any business sense here. It's odd too that people in the know in Hayward don't know anything about this deal.
TCV: Your opponent emphasizes his interest in improving city schools. How much can the mayor do in this regard?
Schott: In terms of direct control, the council and the mayor have none. We can't tell the school districts what to do or how to do it. They have total control over their budget and personnel.
Whether it's right or wrong, our schools today are judged by the test scores of their students. In Hayward, we have a large percentage of turnover every year. Many of the kids you see at the beginning of the year will be gone by the end of the year. And a lot of those who come and go are not proficient in English language skills so they don't do well on the tests.
Now, where the city can help is to make living here affordable so that young families can buy a home, stay here and let their kids get some consistent schooling. Right now, people come into Hayward, stay awhile, then leave because they can't afford housing costs. That's how the turnover occurs and that's what we should focus on changing.
For instance, I've been working with Cal State to put affordable, mixed housing on a piece of land they own that they want to sell. Well, instead of getting a big chunk of money right now, why not set-up a 99-year lease that will generate regular income with escalator clauses? Then put in housing for your faculty and other Hayward teachers, let them buy the homes below market value with an agreement to stay for a long time. They get the tax breaks and they become stable members of the community. This is the sort of thinking and planning I would bring to the mayor's office.
My opponent says we need to create a dialogue with district officials and work out ways to improve schools. Heck, Michael, you already tried that the last time you were mayor! You created a task force that spent a lot of time and money, but didn't produce any results. It's not our job to tell the districts what to do. When we come in and try to tell them what to do, they resent it because it isn't our job, it's theirs.
TCV: Any closing thoughts?
Schott: For the first time in a long time, Hayward has an opportunity to move forward with some fresh thinking. A vote for Mike Sweeney is a vote for the past. One of the knocks against me is I don't have enough experience to be mayor. Well, the guy who does have experience doesn't want to tell the voters that he was a mayor. Either he's not proud of what he did, or he knows it's not fashionable to be known as a career politician.
I'm not part of the political establishment and I'm not afraid to speak up when I disagree with them. If voters want more questionable deals and failed projects; if they're happy with Hayward as it's been, vote for my opponent because that's what they'll get.
If they want a fresh perspective and some sound business thinking, I will bring that to the table.