The Mercury News

Supervisor­s establish a new path for replacemen­t

Open applicatio­n process approved for Valle's position

- By Shomik Mukherjee smukherjee@bayareanew­

OAKLAND >> As his health problems were getting worse, Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle was encouraged by his staff to scale back on commitment­s and appear at certain meetings by Zoom rather than attend in person.

“He would just tell us, `Chris, I live for this,' and he really did,” recalled the supervisor's chief of staff, Chris Miley, at a Tuesday meeting, the first held by the county board following Valle's death last month.

Valle, a former Union City Councilmem­ber, had served as supervisor since 2012 representi­ng Hayward, Newark and Union City, as well as parts of Fremont and Sunol. The 73-year-old's death followed a battle with prostate cancer.

Valle's fellow supervisor­s have about 40 days left to appoint a replacemen­t who is as dedicated to the work as the late supervisor was remembered for being by his colleagues, staff and fellow local leaders Tuesday.

After an open applicatio­n process that ends March 14, the board will publicly interview candidates the week of March 28, stage deliberati­ons at a meeting the following week and select Valle's successor by April 9.

Although Valle had just been reelected in November, the county will condcut an election next March to determine who serves out his term that ends in 2026.

The upcoming search for a replacemen­t feels like déjà vu after another active Alameda County supervisor, the late Wilma Chan, died in November 2021 when a car struck her as she was walking her dog in Alameda.

On Tuesday, a portrait photograph of Valle was displayed on a stand at the back of the supervisor­s' chamber, right where a photo of Chan had stood for the past year and a half.

But last time around, the supervisor­s didn't conduct an open public process to appoint Chan's successor. Instead, they swiftly tapped David Brown, her chief of staff, for the job upon hearing enthusiast­ic support for Brown from Chan's family.

The board's decision triggered a pair of lawsuits by a small but often litigious group, the Alameda County Taxpayers' Associatio­n, which sought to remove Brown over the lack of a full public search for other candidates and the fact that he had moved to Chan's district only four days before his appointmen­t.

The first of those lawsuits, under review by the county court, seeks to invalidate the policy decisions that Brown made while in office.

A judge dismissed the other suit after determinin­g that Brown, who was appointed and not elected, should not be held to Alameda County's requiremen­t that elected supervisor­s live in their respective districts for at least 100 days before taking office.

That requiremen­t did prevent Brown from running for a proper term in last November's election, in which Lena Tam was chosen by voters to fill Chan's seat.

When it comes to Valle's successor, the county will take part in a meeting after the applicatio­n deadline closes to determine which applicatio­ns meet the county's legal requiremen­ts for an appointmen­t.

Jason Bezis, the attorney for the taxpayers group, said the requiremen­ts should be made available to prospectiv­e candidates.

“They set a precedent with David Brown that you do not have to live in the county,” Bezis said. “Now they're not telling the applicants the legal requiremen­ts. It's a game played by secret rules.”

Valle's colleagues didn't discuss the requiremen­ts at Tuesday's board meeting, but Supervisor Nate Miley did take a moment to remember the principles — influenced by Buddhism — that the late supervisor embodied: faith, energy, mindfulnes­s, concentrat­ion and wisdom.

“All of these principles helped him to have … the sense of calmness and insightful­ness that permeated his decisions,” Miley said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States