March 13, 2012 > Former city manager to run for council
Former city manager to run for council
By Simon Wong
Former Hayward City Manager Greg Jones will run for one of four seats on Hayward City Council in the June 5, 2012 General Municipal Election. His friends and supporters are delighted and relieved by his decision to run for office and that he has remained well-informed about the business of government and fully involved with the community since his April 2010 resignation as City Manager.
In late 2009, Jones, acknowledged publicly as Hayward's best city manager in more than 30 years, grew increasingly alarmed by Hayward Unified School District's (HUSD) parlous state of affairs. Jones was part of the team that identified HUSD's lack of goals at that time. Once formulated, the target test score was 700 though the state's standard was 800. Jones was direct, asking the then superintendent and school board president to "just change the goal to 800."
"While test scores are not the only measure of success, setting a goal below the state's standard sends the wrong message - one of low expectations - to the students and to the community," he explained.
Jones was also instrumental in keeping School Resource Officers at high schools in partnership with HUSD. However, the school district and the City of Hayward are separate jurisdictions with clear differences in their respective missions. Jones dislikes platitudes about "the need to work together." Mechanisms and processes to achieve goals must be practical.
In early 2010, Jones consulted the California Attorney General to see if he might serve simultaneously as a school board trustee and as City Manager. It was not possible to hold both positions, so he resigned, after two-and-a-half years as City Manager, to run for the Board of Education in the November 2010 election.
"Instead, I went on to run my own small business. Former Council member Anna May and I also married. We had both planned to run for school board, which is why she did not seek re-election to Council in June 2010. I reappraised what I wanted to do when there were unexpected changes in HUSD after my interest in running for school board became public. There's a time and place for everything," explained Jones.
Around the time of Jones' resignation, there were rumors of a possible romance between him and May. The chattering classes' concerns about possible conflicts of interest were allayed by Council, led ably by Mayor Michael Sweeney. Rightly and properly, May recused herself whenever there was a potential conflict of interest. Importantly, Jones and May have each retained the respect of City staff, Council and the community.
Jones has observed the roll of candidates and feels the community deserves a choice. He notes a loss of focus on the key Council Priorities of Safety and Cleanliness over the last two years. They affect other priorities such as land use, environmental issues and economic development; any city deemed unsafe or unclean is avoided. A re-focus is necessary and would not detract from the importance of other issues.
"In addition to these two factors, people have constantly asked me to be involved again in the City," said Jones. "We already have a City Manager. The opportunity to run for Council has arisen; there has been a recent groundswell of support to seek office as the end of the filing period for candidacy approaches along with the need to launch a campaign. Reflecting on my experience, expertise and knowledge and the community's desire for positive change, it makes sense to run for Council now rather than for school board in November 2012.
"We need some bold initiatives in Hayward to change what is happening. For instance, it appears no progress has been made with a gang injunction program; such an initiative deserves proper attention."
As a community member, Jones has taken the City to task over what many regard as a half-hearted commitment to report Measure A Utility Users Tax income and expenditure. Approval of the general-use tax measure in May 2009, when Jones was City Manager, was accompanied by his personal promise of transparency. He acknowledges the challenge of communicating such matters easily to the public and the need for the City organization's efforts to be exhaustive for effective delivery.
"The City has annual revenues of $100M to spend; we're not penniless. It's how we prioritize expenditure; it's not about insufficient funding. Measure A was, and still is, about protecting the priorities that were in place," said Jones whose facility with language to educate and inform is recognized by many.
He secured Council's unanimous approval to place Measure A on the ballot and was instrumental in the effort that made it one of very few revenue measures approved in the state of California in 2009. Its passage saved the equivalent of 100 police officer positions or the closure of three fire stations. He had informed the community of what he had done already to cut costs and balance the City's budget; Jones' transparency enabled voters to understand the need to approve Measure A.
"Council exists to represent and convert community interests into policies for implementation by City staff. There is a dynamic, push-pull relationship between Council and staff which acts at Council's behest. If staff should forget its role, then our form of government is dysfunctional and does not properly represent the community. This can happen when Council is weak and unclear about its own position," explained Jones, when asked to define the roles of City staff and Council.
Jones' accomplishments as City Manager are extensive and he is credited with laying much of the foundation for the City's future prosperity. Despite cutting costs and delivering balanced budgets, he increased productivity by prioritizing what could be done.
His proudest achievements include the introduction of 10-year financial planning; balancing an inherited $7M budget deficit; agreeing concessions from all employee groups before other Bay Area cities; economic development initiatives; greater levels of public service; implementation of the Neighborhood Partnership Program and strategic plan; initiating the one-megawatt solar project at the waste water treatment plant; leading staff efforts to defeat the proposed East Shore power plant; securing a $30M grant from the state for the South Hayward BART transit-oriented development project and project approval; securing funding for a new public safety Computer Aided Dispatch/Records Management System; the award-winning Mural Program; community policing and establishment of northern and southern police field offices.
"Having been City Manager, formerly belonged to the AFSCME union, served with the US Air Force and as the current owner of a local, small business, I have perspectives to offer as a Council member that are unique among candidates, certainly in this election," concluded Jones.
Council members Barbara Halliday, Olden Henson and Francisco Zermeno seek re-election while Bill Quirk is campaigning for the 20th Assembly District. Other candidates include Ralph R. Farias Jr., who ran in June 2010, Al Mendell and unknown Fahim Ajaz Khan.