Lockyer, Figueroa in race for county supervisor

Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele won’t run for re-election next year, and some heavy hitters are exploring bids to succeed her – including at least two names well-known in statewide political circles.

“I’m getting up there (in age) and you do begin to feel it after a while,” Steele, 72, said today. “In your head you don’t feel old but the rest of your body does. I’ve been there a long time and I’m just tired, you need a lot of energy and stick-to-it-iveness.”

Steele, who has held the District 2 seat representing Hayward, Newark, Union City, a chunk of Fremont and unincorporated Sunol on the board of supervisors since 1992, named four people who have talked to her about seeking her seat:

    Nadia Lockyer, executive director of the Alameda County Family Justice Center and wife of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, of Hayward;
    California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board member and former state Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Sunol;

“You don’t even file (candidacy papers) until February, so there can be a huge fallout or there can be even more,” Steele noted, adding that of the four people she named, “as far as I know, they’re all serious. … It’s going to be quite a race.”

Steele didn’t mention his name, but Union City Mayor Mark Green – who ran against Steele in 1998 – seems to be in the race too. Green, Lockyer and Figueroa have already formed campaign committees for the race — Lockyer, in fact, just filed her paperwork this week — while Dowling has converted his city council campaign committee into a “Friends of Kevin Dowling” committee. I don’t see anything under Plummer’s name.

Comments from some of the would-be candidates, after the jump…

Figueroa, 58, said she’s definitely running: “I’ve actually never been so serious about anything in my life.”

“I really believe I can make a huge contribution to Alameda County,” she said. “Especially after this (May 19 special) election, it’s very clear the cities and counties are going to be in some huge financial constraints, and I am known for making good decisions. I also have a history of knowing the department heads at the county and state level and working with the various cities. … I’m a local girl, I’ve been here forever.”

Dowling, 46, who said he’ll formally announce his candidacy next month, noted he worked for Steele for four years and for Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker for six. Combined with his eight years on the city council, he said, “I think I bring the type of experience that’s needed on the board” for working with county departments as well as local nonprofits and developers.

Plummer, 78, said this afternoon he’s not sure yet whether he’ll run.

“The truth is, there’ve been some people that’ve been encouraging me to do this, and I told them I’d give them an answer next week, and I still haven’t made a decision,” he said, adding he must consider whether to take time out from his grandchildren and volunteer work to tackle the county’s issues. “I think I’d do a good job… Nobody knows the county like I do.”

I left a message for Lockyer, 38, at her office this morning, but haven’t heard back from her. I couldn’t reach Green, 53, at home or office, either.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.