Mercury News Editorial Board Doesn’t Know Much About Santa Clara — Or Practices What It Preaches

By Robert Haugh

The Mercury News editorial board doesn’t like the way Santa Clarans pick their council members. It’s pretty obvious since they’ve written two editorials in one year about it, including one this weekend. What’s not obvious is that they actually do not know much about Santa Clara.

Here’s what they’re telling us:

  1. The City Council is too white.

“A city that is 37 percent Asian, 36 percent white and 19 percent Latino should be embarrassed that it has elected only one non-white City Council member in nearly 40 years — Roger Martinez in 1979.”

2. The City Council needs new blood.

“On the current council, Lisa Gillmor, Patty Mahan, Pat Kolstad and Dominic Caserta have a combined 54 years of service. Mahan’s father, John, also served for 10 years.”

3. The City Council lives too close to each other.

“Four of  the current council members live close enough to one another in the southern part of the city to reasonably be placed in the same council district. Three are within walking distance of one another. Councilwoman Kathy Watanabe is the first in city history to be elected from the north side.”

So, they don’t like the Charter Review Committee’s recommendation to create two districts in the Mission City.

We would take the Mercury News more seriously if they seemed to understand Santa Clara. But they don’t. Or they practiced what they preached about diversity in their own hiring practices. But they don’t.

Plus, their endorsements in 2016 for council candidates show that they write one thing but do another. They endorsed Raj Chahal, Mohammed Nadeem, Teresa O’Neill and John McLemore for city council.

  1. 50 percent of their endorsements were for white candidates (O’Neill, McLemore). But they argue the council is too white.
  2. Only 50 percent of their endorsements were for candidates who haven’t served on the council (Chahal, Nadeem) – Didn’t they say we need more new blood?
  3. All their endorsed candidates live South of 101 and most are within “walking distance” to each other.  But they write that the council needs geographic diversity, especially representation from the Northside.
Mercury News 2016 Santa Clara Candidates Map
The four Santa Clara City Council candidates that the Mercury News endorsed in 2016 live South of 101 and could be considered within one district and most are within “walking distance” of each other.

It’s really disappointing that the Mercury News expresses strong and repeated opinions on a community they don’t know or understand.

Their editorials may make sense for a city with racially polarized voting. That’s not Santa Clara. We’re the opposite. The Mission City is an integrated community. Our neighborhoods are racially mixed and economically mixed. We don’t have a concentration of ethnic groups in neighborhoods. So you can’t create districts to help non-white candidates — even if an editorial pretends that you can.



  1. When is the last time the Murky News wrote something good about Santa Clara? Why all the focus on the negative? Who really drives what is reported by the paper? Who are the real editors? As a voter, I feel the council cares about all residents. They recognize and respect the diversity of Santa Clara. The voters spoke in 2016 even in light of the diversity of candidates who ran for office. Just stop the negativity. Stop the race baiting. Same thing goes for the Weakly. You have lost so much credibility as a result of your negativity. It’s a shame.

  2. What you see in the editorials is a newspaper that is hewing to an ideology using torturous and convoluted logic. The facts don’t support their conclusions, but the Mercury still wants to righteously stand for the districts-equal-more-minority-representation orthodoxy even when they are faced with a situation when it’s not true. Their argument is faith-based (like religious zealotry) not fact based.

    The lawsuit is about electing more Asians, not about spreading out council members across the city.

    Santa Clara looks like it will be the first city to win this type of lawsuit for one important reason — the facts don’t support the claim.

  3. I think Charter Review Commission came up with what’s best for Santa Clara. That’s the way it should be.

  4. Personally, I would like to see six council districts. And not because of some made up diversity crap. According to the 2010 census SC is 36% white. I don’t believe those 36% are bullying the other 64%. People vote for the candidates they choose to vote for. Those that vote based on color or considerations other than qualifications are fools.

    I would like a district so I have a council member that represents me and my neighborhood. To say they all represent me is the the same as saying no one represents me.

    With six districts it would be a lot cheaper to run for office and a candidate could reasonably walk their district. That would improve our candidate pool in my opinion and reduce the need to rely on special interests to contribute to the campaign.

    If you look at how San Jose is run it is easy to see districts don’t solve all problems, but some.

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