Sewer director’s racist talk draws election rival

(Ed.’s note: This post is by my colleague Thomas Peele, who has been on this story’s trail from the start. -J)

Besieged West County Wastewater District Director Leonard Battaglia isn’t up for re-election for another year, but he already has an opponent.

Leonard McNeilFormer San Pablo City Council member Leonard McNeil wrote in an email Thursday that he intends to run for a sewer board seat next year.

Battaglia set off a tempest last month when he said in an interview about his high compensation that African Americans “think slower” than other races “because God made them that way.” He also repeatedly used a common slur to describe Asians.

Other West County board members voted 4-0 to ask Battaglia to resign. He has refused to do so.

McNeil, who is African American, was among several speakers who ripped Battaglia at a Wastewater board meeting Tuesday, saying “I think I’m very quick when I see prejudice and someone who is a bigot a racist.”

McNeil wrote Thursday, “I have not yet developed a cogent platform. I am merely announcing my intention to run for a seat on the board of directors.” McNeil served 12 years on the San Pablo council, losing a re-election bid last year.

Also, San Pablo City Manager Matt Rodriguez announced that city council will vote next month on a resolution also asking Battaglia to resign. Council members voted 5-0 on Tuesday night to schedule the vote for Dec. 2, he said.

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.

  • Marga

    I am so glad someone will challenge Battaglia, what he said is unconscionable.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    The old fart is 85. Why is he still in place?

  • RRSenileColumnist

    McNeil looks long in the tooth himself. Is this board a retirement home for politicos?

  • Elwood

    I’d run but I haven’t turned 80 yet so I’m too young.

  • JohnW

    Nice dentures!