What was shaping up to be an exciting mayoral race earlier this year has turned into a sure-shot win for Union City’s sole mayoral candidate.
With Richard last month for a county supervisor bid and the filing period closed, former councilwoman Carol Dutra-Vernaci will go unopposed into the November election. The likelihood of her becoming Union City’s first female mayor is high, but the race, and her campaign, aren’t over yet.
“It’s a campaign as usual,” Dutra-Vernaci said. “I don’t have anybody to compare and contrast with, but I will continue to be out there attending as many events as possible and, more importantly, knocking on doors and trying to connect with people one-on-one.”
She said she wants to urge residents to vote in the November election not just for her, but for the important presidential and local government races.
In Union City, incumbent Jim Navarro and contender Jose Estrella are fending for one available City Council seat. For the New Haven Unified School District, Nick Frequez is hoping to win one of three available school board seats in a race against incumbents Michelle Matthews, Jonas Dino and Michael Ritchie. Ritchie was appointed to the seat last December to fill a board vacancy. Fresquez, a retired AC Transit employee, also applied for the appointment.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors for District 2, which serves Union City, also has a seat to fill, with Valle, Union City Mayor Mark Green and Assemblymember all vying for the seat. (See our .)
The mayoral race will appear on the November ballot alongside the others. That’s because, though Dutra-Vernaci may be the only candidate, she still needs a majority vote to win — and someone can still file to be a write-in candidate beginning next month, according to City Clerk Renee Elliot.
According to Elliot, the city’s provisions allow an option for a write-in candidacy. Write-in hopefuls would have to formally file with the City of Union City and collect 20 signatures of support. Papers will be available no sooner than the 57th day before the election, which is Sept. 10. They must be turned in no later than the 14th day prior to the election, which would be Oct. 23.
If no one formally files to be a write-in candidate, then Dutra-Vernaci wins the election as soon as the first vote is cast, Elliot said.
But the odds of anyone opposing Dutra-Vernaci are slim. Given her years of experience as a public official and her role in the community, it wouldn't be wise to go against her.
Dutra-Vernaci, 57, is a third-generation Union City native with an impressive resume: she served three consecutive terms on the City Council, is the chair of the city’s Economic Development Advisory Team, the chair of the Union City Community Emergency Response Team and is the incoming president of the Washington Hospital Healthcare Foundation.
Among her top priorities are creating good jobs, increasing public safety and having a more accessible city government, Dutra-Vernaci told Patch.
With her position on the city’s EDAT team these past two years, she’s played an active role in helping to expand and bring in new businesses and jobs.
“In that jobs equation, it encompasses everything surrounding a person’s life,” she added. “It gets into the affordable housing issue because you need a decent job to be able to afford housing in Union City, so we’ll continue to keep affordable housing on the forefront as we move forward with our developments in Union City.”
For Dutra-Vernaci, public safety is a larger concept than just crime prevention as she’s been a strong proponent of disaster preparedness. She helped create a disaster council so that the community will be ready in the case of a major earthquake or other natural disaster.
While she applauds the city government for its transparency, she said some citizens have told her that they feel City Hall isn’t accessible to them. She wants citizens to “feel welcome and feel they are served well by our government,” she said.
Dutra-Vernaci will continue to hold campaign events, though none are yet scheduled for the immediate future, she said. She will continue to knock on doors and attend community events, including the this Saturday and the Union City on Sunday.
For more information, visit her website at www.carolformayor.com.