Charter Review Committee Meets to Tackle Voting Rights Challenge
By Robert Haugh
As we previously reported, the City Council appointed a Charter Review Committee. They met for the first time last night.
Tino Silva was appointed Chair with Keith Stattenfield as Vice Chair.
Silva is a good choice because he was on last year’s Charter Review Committee and was one of the strongest voices to push for four successful ballot measures, especially Measure R which protects Santa Clara’s parks, including the Youth Soccer Park, from sale or development without a vote of the people. (The yes vote was an incredible 90 percent).
Interim City Attorney Brian Doyle told the group last night that he would drive the process, but that they would drive the decisions. He expects the group to meet for 3-4 months and focus on the voting rights challenge from San Francisco attorney Robert Rubin, who thinks that because the City Council has no Asian representatives, we need candidates to run in districts and not city wide.
Doyle reported that he’s been told by Rubin that he will not drop his lawsuit unless Santa Clara creates districts. We wonder how much Rubin actually knows about Santa Clara. There aren’t major ethnic neighborhoods that divide our city. Santa Clara is racially integrated, especially compared to other California cities.
We’ll watch with interest what happens with these questions in mind:
- If you created districts in Santa Clara, how would you create them to help Asian or even Latino candidates?
- If you can’t create helpful districts, why carve up a city with a small to medium size population? (San Jose has over 100,000 people per district. Santa Clara would have about 20,000 people per district for six council seats with the Mayor running city wide).
- Are there other good solutions like rank choice voting?
- After the Committee tackles the voting rights challenge, will they put other issues on the 2018 ballot, like appointing, rather than electing a Police Chief and City Clerk?
The committee members appointed by the council:
- Mayor Lisa Gillmor – Parks & Rec Commissioner Tino Silva;
- Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta – Santa Clara Chamber CEO Chris Horton;
- Council member Debi Davis – Beverly Silva;
- Council member Pat Kolstad – retired Santa Clara Police Chief Steve Lodge;
- Council member Patty Mahan – Markus Bracamonte;
- Council member Teresa O’Neill – former Planning Commissioner Keith Stattenfield;
- Council member Kathy Watanabe – Hazel Alabado.
The at-large appointees:
- Saskia Feain
- Hosam Haggag
- Mary Elizabeth Hanna-Weir
- Rex McIntosh
- Jodi Muirhead
- Teresa Sulcer
The City may want to update the Charter Review Committee portion of it’s website. It appears as though it hasn’t been updated in some time.