Breaking News Flash – Santa Clara Police Chief Race Too Close to Call

Santa Clara Police Chief Race Too Close to Call

By Robert Haugh

Occasionally, media outlets make mistakes, ourselves included. Though we, and other media outlets gave the Santa Clara Police Chief race win to Police Chief Mike Sellers, indications are that challenger Pat Nikolai may pull ahead as thousands of ballots remain uncounted.

When early numbers were reported on Tuesday evening, Sellers led 7,626 to 6,301 votes – 55 to 45 percent. As of now (Friday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.), Sellers hangs onto a 682-vote lead – 13,051 to 12,369 – 51 to 49 percent.

Nikolai has won 53 percent to Sellers’ 47 percent since initial reports were released. The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters expects there are about 13,000 ballots remaining uncounted in Santa Clara.¬† If the trend continues , Nikolai could win the race by approximately 100 to 200 votes.

An automatic recount is required when an election is decided by .5 percent or less, which is 175 votes based on the expected turnout, so this race will likely see a recount.

That would be a substantial comeback by Nikolai, especially against an incumbent Chief.

We will update the Police Chief race later.


  1. The Mayor arranged for the POA to receive $65,000 from Real Estate Developers (Prometheus, Citation Homes) to put out numerous false and derogatory mailers against the Chief. The public bought into this negative campaigning. It worked. All of you that voted for Nikolai and the Mayor’s candidates should not complain when the next high density housing development is built in Santa Clara. The council is bought and paid for by real estate developers. Look it up yourself at the FPPC if you don’t believe me.

    • The funding from developers went both ways … There was a ton of outside money spent in Santa Clara elections this year. There are actually a large number of massive developments already underway or approved in Santa Clara. Other candidates received undisclosed funds from an organization that’s protected under non-profit regulations, therefore there’s about $40,000 of funding that will likely never be disclosed. The bottom line is citizens, and media, need to be watchdogs of and for the city. We need more residents involved in the process and Planning. There were paid lobbyists for high-density projects pushing for the candidates the mayor supported. Quite a tangled web and developers financing campaigns isn’t new – sadly. It’s politics!

    • Dude, the chief got slammed with a no confidence vote. How’s the man suppose to lead when no one respects his face. Sometimes the truth is negative. But its still truth. someone pointed out in a comment here that he spent money on the stadium. That’s not cool when the 49ers have megabucks.

    • Dear TellTheTruth,

      I live in Santa Clara and I’m not stupid. The only negative campaign I saw was the stuff BluPac sent out. The had the gall to send me texts I didn’t want. Multiple times! I voted against all their candidates because it was clear that the 49ers were behind them. That includes Sellers who violated Measure J.

  2. I’m surprised that this race is as close at it is, when you consider how overwhelmingly the Santa Clara voters decided to keep the incumbents in. It at least one case, it is amazing that one of the candidates sailed so easily against good competition. Especially since that incumbent didn’t seem to do very much.

    Santa Clarans need to wake up and demand more from their City Council, their Interim and/or Permanent City Manager and City staff! Current Mayor is attempting valiantly to “right the ship” that is Santa Clara and for the most part the City Council is working to do that as well. So this seems to be a vote to support those efforts.

    But for the Police Chief race to be this close must mean that there are some underlying concerns and some cultural and organizational issues that are at play. I have heard that morale is a bit low and that police officers are working a lot of extra hours because of Levi’s Stadium.

    But I do hope that no matter who wins, that the underlying issues are quickly addressed and resolved to the extent that it is possible.

    • I voted against Sellers because he violated Measure J and was supported by the 49ers through a dark money group. They are the kiss of death in my neighborhood.

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