Thursday, September 29, 2022

Election 2022: Santa Clara County cities see several contests

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Residents across the South Bay will elect some new representatives this November, as a number of seats are up for grabs.

Local races were expensive and competitive in the June primary election, with many incumbents seeking reelection and new candidates jumping in to shake up the status quo. Candidates vying for council seats in smaller cities such as Santa Clara and Milpitas have also emerged to compete in the upcoming election this fall.

Citizens in Santa Clara and Milpitas will get their picks for mayor and two representatives. The town of Los Gatos is also looking for three new town councilmembers.

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Ballots are scheduled to arrive in residents’ mailboxes the week of Oct. 10. The election is Nov. 8.

Here’s the current list of local candidates in Santa Clara, Milpitas and Los Gatos this November election:

Santa Clara

Home to the San Francisco 49ers football team, Levi’s Stadium and headquarters of tech companies such as such as Intel and Nvidia, Santa Clara is an economic force in the South Bay. With more than 127,000 residents, it is the eighth largest city in the Bay Area.

Six candidates are vying for three seats on the council, including incumbent Mayor Lisa Gillmor.

Gillmor is facing one challenger—her colleague Councilmember Anthony Becker. Gillmor, a real estate broker and property manager, has been on the city council from 1992-2000 and again from 2012-2016. Gillmor was appointed mayor in 2016 and beat Becker in the 2018 mayoral election.

Gillmor touts her decade-long experience, including standing up to the 49ers football team when it proposed reducing the team’s stadium rent and navigating the city through the COVID-19 pandemic. She did not respond to a request for comment.

“I’ve served Santa Clara residents for three decades,” Gillmor said in her candidate statement. “Today, we have safe neighborhoods, good parks, with businesses creating jobs and revenue for our future.”

thecupertinodigest.com recently reported Gillmor’s property management company may have skirted state labor laws by not paying contracted workers prevailing wages at a local teacher housing complex. Gillmor deferred questions to the school district’s foundation, which serves as landlord of the complex.

Becker, elected in 2020, has criticized Gillmor on a number of issues, including her attempts to stop Santa Clara from implementing six city council districts. Becker said he helped end the music ban at Levi’s Stadium, brought the World Cup to the city and established a task force on homelessness. He aims to address the city’s budget issue, homelessness and transparency within City Hall as mayor.

“There’s a lot we have done in the past few years and there’s a lot more I want to get done,” Becker told thecupertinodigest.com. “We need a new generation to lead us into the future, and a leader that actually understands people’s struggles.”

Santa Clara City Hall at 1500 Warburton Ave. File photo.

In District 2, the area bordering Mineta San Jose International Airport, incumbent Councilmember Raj Chahal is also seeking reelection. Chahal, first elected to the council in 2018, boasts his record of championing neighborhood safety, affordable housing and small businesses. He did not respond to a request for comment.

“I have not and will not take any special interest money,” Chahal said in his candidate statement. “I promise to focus on improving quality of life for residents by putting our public resources to the best uses.”

Challenging Chahal is retired engineer Larry McColloch. McColloch, a resident of Santa Clara for 34 years, said he’s “pro-business, pro-public safety, and pro-neighborhood and a strong supporter of women’s rights” in his candidate statement. He declined to comment for this story.

In District 3, which borders Sunnyvale, incumbent Councilmember Karen Hardy is seeking reelection and fighting off challenger Christian Pellecchia. Hardy, a high school teacher who has lived in the area for nearly four decades, said her priorities are to hire a new city manager and attorney, address the budget deficits and fight for the city’s water rights.

“I will do whatever it takes to make certain we do a good job for our residents,” Hardy told thecupertinodigest.com. “My opponent moved to the district like a year ago, that doesn’t sound like someone who’s vested in the community like I am.”

Pellecchia, vice president of operations at Santa Cruz-based Slatter Construction, denied early this year he planned to run. He has taken a leave of absence from the Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce to pursue the seat, but said he’s not a politician.

“This current city council is very dysfunctional,” he told thecupertinodigest.com. “I mostly feel obligated to run for the benefit of the city to restore dignity and respect back to the city council.”

Milpitas

In Milpitas, five people are fighting for the mayoral seat, as incumbent Mayor Rich Tran has decided to not run this election. Tran, who has been a controversial figure with accusations of tone-deaf comments to potential violations of the Brown Act, was running for a council seat but decided to drop out Thursday. The city’s deadline to qualify for the November election is Aug. 17.

Three current councilmembers—Anthony Phan, Carmen Montano and Karina Dominguez—are eyeing the top seat. Retired geologist Voltaire Montemayor and business CEO Ola Hassan are also looking to shake up City Hall.

Dominguez, who is finishing her first term on the council, boasts her experience working in a variety of government and nonprofit roles. She wants to address public safety, support for local businesses and housing.

“Our citizens deserve better and we could do better,” Dominguez told thecupertinodigest.com. “It’s time that we bring a different perspective in order to tackle some of the issues that are most important to our residents.”

Phan, who was first elected to the council in 2016, said affordable housing, public safety and public infrastructure are his priorities. He touts a record of reforming the city’s dark past of corruption and mismanagement, raising the minimum wage and championing affordable housing.

“This November, Milpitas residents will get to decide what direction to move the city toward,” Phan told thecupertinodigest.com. “I’m running to ensure that everyone has a roof over their heads, clean air to breathe and an opportunity to thrive.”

Montano, currently serving as vice mayor, was the first woman of color ever elected to the Milpitas City Council in 2012. She is endorsed by Tran. She previously told thecupertinodigest.com her goals include championing a fiscally responsible budget, increasing the affordable housing stock and bolstering funding for police and fire. She didn’t respond to an inquiry for this story.

Montemayor and Hassan did not respond to inquiries about their candidacy. They also don’t have any websites about their platforms.

Milpitas City Hall at 455 E. Calaveras Blvd. is pictured in this file photo.

In the race for the two councilmember seats, six people have submitted paperwork to be on the ballot—with three qualifying so far.

Milpitas Unified School District board member Hon Lien, Planning Commissioner Dipak Awasthi and Chamber of Commerce board member Juliette Gomez are all vying for the open seats. Former Councilmember Garry Barbadillo and Planning Commissioner Demetress Morris have yet to qualify as of Tuesday.

Lien, who has served on the school board for six years, said her decade-long experience as a business owner and advocate equips her for the job. She aims to support local businesses, increase affordable housing and address public safety.

“I have the reputation of reaching people and working well with people,” Lien told thecupertinodigest.com.

Awasthi, who started volunteering on different city commissions in 2016, said on his website he’s running to serve Milpitas families, with priorities to address public safety, housing and economic development, homelessness and traffic.

Gomez, author of the book “Can I Push You?,” said on her Facebook she aims to support small businesses and local schools—with a priority in public safety. 

Awasthi and Gomez didn’t respond to inquiries about their candidacy.

Los Gatos

The small town along Highway 17 will get to pick new representatives this fall, as six candidates are vying for three open seats.

Two incumbents—Mayor Rob Rennie and Councilmember Mary Badame—are seeking reelection this fall. Resident Rob Moore, business owner and attorney Margaret Smith, Planning Commissioner Reza Tavana and business executive Rob Stump are also eyeing the seats.

Rennie boasts his eight years of experience on the council, where he helped the town navigate through difficult finance and planning challenges. He ran unsuccessfully for a state Assembly seat this June, after being drawn out of the race to represent Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors District 1 through a redistricting process.

“Making sure that Los Gatos is well taken care of is what’s foremost in my mind,” Rennie told thecupertinodigest.com, adding he has the institutional knowledge that no other candidates have.

Badame, first elected two years ago, said on her website preserving the town’s character has been the priority during her tenure. She has also championed fully funding the police and voted against the elimination of single-family residential zones in town.

Los Gatos Town Council Chamber. Photo by Tran Nguyen.

Moore, who used to work for Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and Assemblymember Evan Low, said he’s running to bring a young voice to the town council. The Los Gatos native wants to address affordable housing, create safe streets for cyclists and pedestrians and support local businesses.

“I really care deeply about our community,” Moore told thecupertinodigest.com. “It’s important to have (younger voices) to steward the community into the future.”

Smith, who owns a local business, has spent years getting involved and advocating for the town. She hopes to bring back transparency as the town faces an uphill battle planning for more residential development. She also wants to address budget deficiencies and preserve the town’s character while still embracing future changes.

“I care about the community, and I have invested my time and energy in trying to better it in any way that I could,” she told thecupertinodigest.com. “I am committed to Los Gatos.”

Stump, a third generation Los Gatos resident, said he wants to address public safety issues such as traffic congestion and wildfires, increase community partnership with law enforcement, plan for responsible growth and pursue financial stewardship.

“I’m not coming to the council with what could be construed or perceived as a personal agenda,” Stump told thecupertinodigest.com. “I am there to represent the voters that would elect me and put me on the town council, and I’m accountable to the community.”

Tavana and Badame didn’t respond to inquiries about their candidacy. Tavana doesn’t have a website about her platform.

Contact Tran Nguyen at tran@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story included Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran as a candidate for city council. He has since dropped out of the race.

The post Election 2022: Santa Clara County cities see several contests appeared first on thecupertinodigest.com.

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