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:
- 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.
- 50 percent of their endorsements were for white candidates (O’Neill, McLemore). But they argue the council is too white.
- 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?
- 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.
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.