May 16, 2006 > Kevin Dowling, Hayward City Council
Kevin Dowling, Hayward City Council
by Steve Warga
Hayward native, Kevin Dowling's acceptance to graduate school was delayed for a year. In the interim, he applied for a seat on one of Hayward's numerous commissions that advise the City Council. He never looked back. After working his way to his present position as a respected veteran City Councilmember, Dowling is running for a third term. Last week, he sat down with TCV and shared some thoughts in his pleasant, easygoing fashion.
<B>TCV:</B> What motivated you to run for a seat on the Hayward City Council back in 1996?
<B>Dowling:</B> I was always interested in politics as a kid. After graduating from Moreau High School and Santa Clara University, I wanted to go to the University of Michigan Public Policy graduate school, but I applied late and wasn't accepted that year. In the meantime, I went ahead and applied for a seat on a city commission in 1984. I got involved with Mike Sweeney's re-election campaign; he was on the City Council at that time and I never went back to school. (Sweeney is running for Mayor this year.)
<B>TCV:</B> On a personal level, what does "Council Member" mean to you?
<B>Dowling:</B> Well, I really enjoy seeing things accomplished to the benefit of Hayward and its citizens. At times, I'll drive past a building, or some affordable housing we've developed and think to myself, "I was a part of that." It's fun being a part of the process, working with my fellow Councilmembers and our great staff. I feel like I do make a difference for the better.
<B>TCV:</B> Do individual Councilmembers have direct authority over the City Staff?
<B>Dowling:</B> No. It takes at least four members to agree on any actions proposed by an individual member. Even the Mayor has only limited power. He or she can set up committees and make appointments. Other than that, powers are reserved to a majority vote of the Council.
<B>TCV:</B> So the City Manager is supervised by the Council as a whole?
<B>Dowling:</B> That is correct.
<B>TCV:</B> You seconded the motion to draft a Purchase Agreement to sell the City Center Parking Garage to Intercoastal Property Group for $1.5 million. Yet you expressed some reservations as well.
<B>Dowling:</B> Yes, I really struggled with that decision. I'm not wild about their idea of putting a four-story condo complex on top of that garage, but I'm very concerned that the old Centennial Tower came down. IPG resisted this in our closed sessions and I was not going to leave it. The Tower has to come down.
<B>TCV:</B> Does the sale price seem too low to you?
<B>Dowling:</B> That's a 25 year old parking garage. We're building one for the Century Theater with about 300 spaces and it's costing us between $5 and $6 million dollars. So, you consider an older structure that needs at least $2 million in retrofitting and the sale price doesn't seem so low. I think it's worth it to get that building down and do something attractive and profitable with both properties.
<B>TCV:</B> Tuesday's (May 9th) decision did not commit the City to anything final, did it?
<B>Dowling:</B> That's right. We only agreed to draft a Purchase Agreement. Either side can still back out. Another factor is that we'll have a new mayor and possibly one or two new Council Members. Who knows how that will affect things?
<B>TCV:</B> What do you see as the key issues you would confront if you win re-election?
<B>Dowling:</B> Restoring police services is critical. We also need to concentrate on our disaster-preparedness and bring the Fire Department back to full strength. I want to see the redevelopment work continue in the Downtown, Mission and Cannery areas as well as exploring ways for the city to help homeowners in our older neighborhoods improve their properties.
Learn more about Kevin Dowling by visiting his website at www.dowlingforcouncil.org.