This is the fourth of six profiles of the candidates in the Hayward City Council race. Two seats are up for election on the June 8 ballot.
HAYWARD — For Sara Lamnin, a little communication goes a long way in solving problems — and she says she’s a great communicator.
“By engaging people, you find solutions,” she said. “Some people may know only part of the answer, others may not know how to implement it. But by listening and building collaboration, it will all come together.”
That idea is the thrust of one of Lamnin’s main tenets: “Leadership through listening.”
The 39-year-old program director for the Hayward Community Action Network and head of the city’s Citizen’s Advisory Commission used an example from when she was just out of college, working as a therapist at a South Hayward nursing home.
“There was a lady there, and she just loved games,” Lamnin said. “She would beat the pants off you at checkers anytime.”
One day the woman sat at the checkerboard, just staring at it. Something appeared to be terribly wrong.
“I asked her what was going on,” Lamnin said. “Well, the black checkers were on the black squares. Her vision was poor, and she couldn’t see them. The idea is that we make assumptions when we should be asking questions.”
She said the same approach is applicable to city issues, such as deciding where to make budget cuts: “Go to the people involved and ask them where cuts should be made.”
And for revitalizing downtown: “Are rents cheap enough? Vacancies are hurting everybody — maybe some peer pressure from other landlords would help. Ask the (possible tenants), ‘What is it you need to move in?'”
Lamnin used the same logic to determine her top priority — creating quality employment opportunities for residents.
“People understand that in order to bring in the funding we need to support schools, to support police and fire and maintenance services, that we need people to be able to work,” she said. “Nobody buys here if they don’t have a job. You can’t keep a home without a steady income.”
She said the losses of Mervyns and NUMMI were great blows to the area’s job base, but that resources exist to explore fields such as high tech and renewable energy.
“We have great facilities, great spaces in Hayward, and it’s a great location,” she said. “We need to be a player in the local and regional sustainability scene. There’s an emerging green industry and Hayward is not at the table.”
Lamnin said she found her calling in public service while working in the health care field. She saw that on one side of the table were the individuals and families with their needs, and on the other were the legislators in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., who could help.
“I realized that it was important to make people heard to those who can do something for them,” she said. “That is the voice that matters.”
Now Lamnin wants to be a willing listener on the other side of the table.
“I’ve spent my life learning how to work with people of all different socioeconomics, people in all different industries and public jurisdictions,” she said. “I have experience and commitment. We need somebody to help listen and build collaboration, make voices be heard. That’s what drives me.”
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.