May 23, 2006 > Robert Lopez-Hayward City Council candidate
Robert Lopez-Hayward City Council candidate
by Steve Warga
Whether it's assisting an assault victim, watching out for his neighbors or running a third time for City Council, Robert Lopez refuses to watch from the sidelines of the city he loves. Born and raised in Hayward, Robert thinks he's the right voice for his fellow-citizens'' interests at City Hall.
TCV: Third time a charm?
Lopez: Hoping so! I've been close, only a 275-vote margin in 2002.
TCV: If you don't win in June, will you try a fourth time?
Lopez: I can't speak yet to what I'll do. It takes a lot of time from my family and I have to strike a balance. Right now, I think I'll win this election.
TCV: What issues to you see as priorities?
Lopez: Our Police Department must be restored to its full strength. Currently, 18 positions are vacant and frozen due to budget cuts. In addition, 15 staff members are out, mostly to disabilities. So that's over 30 positions unfilled.
I'm told we have a $15 million surplus right now. We should use some of that money to fill those vacant slots on the police force. Crime is on the upswing and that affects everybody, not just the actual victims. Yet the City Council and City Manager lack the political will to address the problem. Both the Narcotics and Gang Intervention units have been shut down. Kevin Dowling and Matt Jimenez deny this. Yet, call the Police Department and ask for a Narcotics officer and you'll learn they've all been reassigned to Patrol.
TCV: What other issues will you focus on?
Lopez: We've lost most of the outlets for our children. The bowling alleys have closed, along with the skating rink, the arcades and so on. The City did build the skate park on Tennyson and that helps the kids in that area. But Hayward is a big city, too big for the kids in other areas to take advantage of that park. So, either we start putting some resources into activities for kids in other areas or gang activity will get worse. "I think it's shameful when we lose kids to violence. Unfortunately, in Hayward, that happens all too often."
Another big part of my platform is the traffic congestion in downtown and how to deal with it. The "mini-loop" isn't going to work because it would not solve the bottlenecks on Foothill and Mission, it would only move them out a little further. We need to widen the 238 freeway that would solve the problem because much of the cross-town traffic stems from motorists driving around the constant back-ups on 238.
TCV: What is your reaction to the Council's decision to draft a Purchase Agreement with Intercoastal Property Group to sell the City Center Parking Garage for $1.5 million?
Lopez: I didn't agree with the sale of Centennial Tower to IPG and I don't agree with the proposed sale of the garage because they are leaving Centennial Hall out to dry. Where will people park their cars? It appears the Council is using the parking garage in ways that make no sense. They deny one developer's plans on the basis of lack of parking, and then they allow IPG to buy the parking rights for a very low price. Does that make sense to you?
Why didn't the City look ahead and make other arrangements for parking of Centennial Hall patrons? I've said many times that this Council and this City Manager do not know how to plan ahead, there's no foresight.
TCV: Anything closing thoughts?
Lopez: I've lived here all my life and I pay attention to what goes on. The current Councilmember's don't seem to know much of what's going on in Hayward. That's supposed to be their job.
I guess, for me, it all comes down to our kids. I fear for them in today's city environment. We must work to make Hayward a place where kids can grow and flourish, safely. Then they will feel encouraged to settle and raise their own kids here too.
For more information, visit www.LopezforHayward.com.