“Anyone who tells you that you can’t be in politics and be a good guy is lying to you.”
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That’s the gospel according to Chuck Hammond, the effusive candidate for the El Dorado Hills Community Services District Board of Directors who hopes to come six votes closer than he did in 2010, when he lost by a nose to Director Bill Vandegrift.
Hammond, 69, is a former Fairfield mayor, a fact that comes up often in the relentless, upbeat monologue that emanates the man, making him the easiest and also most difficult interview ever.
He loves public service. He loves campaigning. He especially loves coaching. But more than all that, “I just love people, period,” he said.
He’s lived in Serrano with his wife Barbara for the past eight years and guess what? He loves both of them too.
Hammond sells insurance, all types: homeowner, auto, bonds, workman’s comp, commercial, probate, you name it. He loves it all.
But not like he loves coaching, which he started in 1977. He’s done track and baseball, but keeps coming back to basketball. “It’s my life,” he said.
“These kids come here and they don’t want to leave,” Hammond continued. “My coaches call me and want to come to start practice early. This here, this is my salvation.”
He got his start in politics in the early 1990s representing Fairfield on the Solano County Recreation Commission, which had a rubber stamp reputation until Hammond arrived. “They were all voting yes on the first matter to come up and I asked why. No big deal … once they explained it.”
The next day the Daily Republic had a story titled “Hammond asks why?” He decided politics wasn’t so bad.
Before long, members of his church asked him to run for city council. “I wasn’t even registered to vote at the time, but I registered and I ran and we won easily. It was a lot of fun.”
He started his public service career with a large misconception. “I thought you had to be some super smart guy that knows more than everyone else,” he said. “I took office and learned that’s not true. All you have to be is one of them. Shut up and listen. That’s what people want.”
Hammond relies on a native ability to draw people out. “I need people to tell me what’s going on with them and with this community. You know stuff I don’t. You may be smarter than me. You probably are.”
He takes great pride in having never said anything bad about his political opponents in Fairfield. Even in the tight CSD race in 2010, “It never got personal,” he said. “I like these guys. I come to meetings here and meet people. It’s all very interesting to me.”
The highlight of his 2010 campaign was canvassing neighborhoods with the kids on his teams, including many from past teams.
The low point wasn’t losing; it was the kids’ reaction. “The kids took it harder than I did,” he said. “They showed up for practice with their head all down. I just simply asked them if they had fun campaigning with me.”
Heads nodded. “That’s all that matters,” he said. “When you give 100 percent you have fun and you don’t lose.”
He’d like to see board meetings televised. “People don’t get home until we’ve already started,” he said. “You can’t ask them to ignore their family and come here.”
He also wants to make the board friendlier. “People should want to come here and communicate with this board, which is something that’s not happening today,” Hammond said. “I could bring that.”
The union endorsed him in 2010. He knows many CSD employees personally, and worries that morale is still low. He also wants to ensure that precious general fund dollars are spent on the right people.
Like the other candidates, Hammond said he thinks there is potential for much more and better volunteer opportunities. “But people have to be asked,” he said.
To his opponents he says: “You will not beat me one-on-one. I will ‘outlove’ you.”
“I know this. I can relate to people,” he said, “That’s what people want in a local elected official, someone they can relate to and someone who does what’s right.”