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March 17, 2010 > City Manager to run for school board

City Manager to run for school board

By Simon Wong

Hayward City Manager Greg Jones has confirmed his intention to run for Hayward Unified School District's (HUSD) Board of Education and that he must resign his current post to do so.

"I have recently been exploring the possibility of running for Hayward Unified School District board in November [2010]. Part of that exploration has included an evaluation as to whether my participation would create a legal conflict of interest due to my position as City Manager. Based on recent information provided by the State Attorney General, a previous decision on a similar situation indicates it does in fact create a legal conflict and that I cannot serve in both capacities," he stated in an email to Council and city staff on Friday, March 12 and in which he paid tribute to his colleagues, their achievements and dedication to the Hayward community and thanked them for their hard work, support, encouragement and professionalism.

In his first interview following his decision, he explained he will work with Council on a transition plan over the coming weeks. It is too early to say whether an interim successor will be appointed or if a search for a new, permanent city manager will be the preferred option. Council has yet to decide.

Jones, who has been Hayward City Manager for two-and-a-half years, will remain in post to ensure a smooth transition, July being an opportune time to step aside when he pulls papers for the November 2010 school board elections.

His March 12 email cites "the condition of HUSD and the impacts the schools have on our overall community" as compelling reasons for his decision to seek election to the Board of Education.

"The nature of my observations of the school district is 'compelling.' As much as the city works hard to affect the quality of life in Hayward, as per Council's direction, the school district has an important part to play. If it does not, then the city's efforts are futile," he elaborated when interviewed.

Jones hopes his public sector-management experience can be brought to bear to banish past and current frustrations within HUSD. He has organizational skills, is familiar with labor relations, complex budget issues and has both a high-level and detailed understanding of policy. Of immediate benefit is his insight into the connections between the city, HUSD and Hayward Area Recreation District. He also hopes to inspire some leadership in the school district.

"I shan't do something within the school district unless I am effective at it," he said. "That's how I operate. The timing of my decision is important. To wait two more years might be too late for the district to turn around. Such a delay would certainly make the job more difficult and achieve a less satisfactory outcome.

"It is premature to discuss specific ideas and arguments but I have considered matters and thought about what exists within HUSD that hasn't been explored and might be tried. It will be important to engage all stakeholders - teachers, parents, administrators, businesses, the wider community - to identify first steps towards achieving mutually beneficial goals to effect real change for the better," Jones concluded.

Following Sara Gonzales' resignation on February 22, the four remaining board members are searching for someone to complete Gonzales' unexpired term. In November, three seats will be available. Paul Frumkin III (president) and Sheila Sims (board member) and Gonzales' immediate replacement will have completed their terms and will either step down or seek re-election.

Councilor Anna May has decided not to stand for re-election to Council in June and will also run for school board in November. May and Jones are seeking a third, like-minded candidate to join them.

"My first thought regarding both Anna May and Greg Jones' decisions is that it is a serious expression of 'No Confidence' in the City Council or in the Council that could be in place after the election. I am concerned we are losing our most progressive council member and an excellent city manager at the same time. Both believe the failures of Hayward schools are so detrimental to our community that something has to be corrected. It's courageous to leave both their positions and the benefits they now have and commit to improving our schools for very little compensation beyond the satisfaction of being successful," stated a source familiar with the situation.

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