This is the first of six profiles of the candidates in the Hayward City Council race on the June 8 ballot. Two seats are up for election.
HAYWARD — One of Ralph Farias Jr.’s formative lessons wasn’t learned in his hometown, but in the San Ramon Valley.
He was working at In-N-Out Burger off Crow Canyon Road, earning some money while attending Hayward High School. Farias was behind in class units, and counselors told him it didn’t look like he would graduate on time.
“The kids I worked with were so excited — they were all getting ready to go to college, and making all kinds of plans,” said Farias, 28. “I didn’t hear that kind of excitement coming out of my friends in Hayward. “… But I thought, ‘If they can do it, then I can do it.’ ”
He started taking courses, at night at the adult school and Chabot College. With a lot of work, he did graduate, and was accepted into Michigan State.
Farias said it’s that sort of inspiration in youth, coupled with the city’s collaboration with schools and the business community, that will give Hayward a needed boost.
“I’m a firm believer that everything thrives off one another,” he said. “You get the businesses going, finish what we started downtown, get the students working, give them a strong work ethic. It all works together.”
Farias calls himself the “homegrown candidate” with a “real people’s perspective.” He said that means he looks at the big-picture issues, such as bridging a gap with the school district and bringing in businesses, as well as things that affect people on an individual level.
“We were supposed to get speed bumps on my street, and they came out to paint lines and cut up the street, then we get a call saying we’re not getting it because of the (Mission Boulevard) realignment,” he said. “It’s definitely a waste, and now we’re not getting our speed bump and we have markings on the street. I think the little things like that get swept under the rug.”
Farias, a self-described “fiscal conservative but social liberal,” is the youngest of the City Council hopefuls. He has been a lively presence at candidate forums, sometimes offering analogies involving his four pit bulls or talking about his relatives buried at the “Holy Supercar” — Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
The married father of two enjoys football and admits he’s a big fan of professional wrestling — “It’s my male soap opera” — and is rebuilding a 1948 Hudson Commodore hot rod.
He’s also working to open a downtown restaurant, and the food and beverage broker says he has the business skills and savvy to better promote the city.
“I’m saddened to see how nonaggressively the city markets itself,” he said. “The presentation is terrible. I could get students from the Art Institute to redo (presentation materials) for free. You can’t sell a product if you don’t have the right ammunition.”
He said businesses are turned off by the “red tape” they have to get through to set up shop, and the process should be made smoother, particularly for those wanting to come downtown.
“We need to keep the focus on downtown,” he said. “If you think about the evolution of downtown like a marathon, it’s like we never finished the race.”
He called it counterproductive that people object to building uses such as a nightclub.
“They say, ‘Oh, we don’t want that here because it’s bringing in problems, too much of this or that,’ or ‘We don’t want that business here because of such and such,'” he said. “They say, ‘We don’t want it to be like Richmond.’ That’s ridiculous.”
Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Contact him at 510-293-2473. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi. All six candidate profiles — and a forum in which to discuss them — will be available as they appear at www.ibabuzz.com/hayword.