Winners & Losers (Opinion)

Santa Clara Focus: Winners & Losers

By Robert Haugh

With the mudslinging, accusations and political side show circus now over, Santa Clara can get back to business at hand. Here we address who we think are the winners and losers in the election:


Santa Clarans – Despite all the negative and dishonest campaigning, personal attacks and array of dumbfounded accusations, Santa Clarans made their voices heard loud and clear, electing who they felt were best suited to serve the Mission City.

Lisa Gillmor – Three of her four supported candidates – Teresa O’Neill, Debi Davis and Kathy Watanabe won via major landslide margins. She is the clear leader at city hall. 49ers beware.

Rod Diridon, Jr. – Claimed a landslide victory to remain City Clerk for a third term.

Tino Silva – He didn’t win his City Council seat, but Measure R, which he was one of the main proponents of, was approved overwhelmingly by Santa Clarans – establishing protection for City parks and open space.

Raj Chahal – Ran one the most ethical and honest campaigns and came within seven percentage points of becoming elected – we hope he runs again and continues serving the community.

Pat Nikolai – Within just a couple percentage points of being elected as Police Chief. That is a remarkable showing for first-time candidate against an incumbent.


BluPac – Only one of their slate candidates claimed victory (Mahan) while all others were defeated by wide margins. The way they campaigned was sleazy and ineffective.

49ers – Council’s pro-49ers focus shifted when Gillmor became Mayor. Now, she’s stronger, giving the 49ers less power to push for lower rents or other favorable treatment.

Santa Clara Weekly – Only one City of Santa Clara candidate (Mahan) that advertised in the publication claimed victory on election night.  So those of you who think that the Weekly has more than 90 subscribers and is considered no more than driveway litter by most homes, think again. (Becker, Bouza, Bracamonte, Chahal, Jain, McLemore, Nadeem and Rafah were among the non-winners who advertised in the paper).

Miles Barber – I have to single him out from his paper because his poorly written columns were just mean and nasty attacks without fact or reason on the Mayor and councilwomen. His paper has lost credibility and his other gig as a lobbyist is in big trouble. People at city hall tell me that his Mariani’s project is D.O.A.

Mike Sellers – Coming into the election with a vote of no-confidence from his peers, barely clinging onto a 1,000-vote re-election over the “unqualified” Pat Nikolai is not good.

John McLemore -Former councilman gets smacked down 65-35 percent. Ouch. Either he ran a lousy campaign or BluPac dragged him down, maybe both.


Patricia Mahan – essentially running as an incumbent, claimed a narrow win over Parks and Rec commissioner Silva and Planning commissioner Chahal in an election that had a historically high voter approval for female candidates (Hillary Clinton recorded 73 percent vote in Santa Clara County). BluPac dragged her down.

SC Chamber PAC  – Actually did alright with their candidate endorsements overall, but made the mistake of opposing incumbents and the Mayor. Not politically smart. They also may be investigated by the FPPC for coordination between Barber and McLemore, which we first disclosed.

Robert Haugh’s column will appear on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  1. Interesting list. You have two people who lost an election as winners. But I’m happy 49ers lost big. The team is as bad off the field as on it.

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