Measure A — Looks Like Santa Clarans vs. Outside Interests

By Robert Haugh

Measure A is the June 5 item that would create two districts in Santa Clara and introduce ranked-choice voting as soon as it is the technology is available.

Below is the Ballot Question and the arguments in favor and against.

Ballot Question

Shall the City Charter be amended: to establish two districts starting in 2018 to be represented by three Council Members each; and, when available, use ranked choice voting to allow voters to select candidates in order of choice to determine the winners of elections of all city elected officers?

Argument in Favor

Two Districts and One Santa Clara

Santa Clara elections have always been clean and open to all types of candidates. We are proud of our history. Now we can make it even better and more accessible.

Your yes vote will create two districts to ensure that all parts of Santa Clara are represented on the city council. Today, candidates run citywide. That means the majority of candidates can be concentrated in one area or one neighborhood. With two districts, Santa Clarans will be more evenly represented.

Two districts will help all candidates — especially those that represent a neighborhood or grassroots organization or ethnic group. Two districts will make the cost of running for office less expensive because candidates will not have to run citywide. They can rely on small-dollar contributions rather than big checks from developers. Two districts will increase the importance of neighborhoods and decrease the influence of special interests.

In addition, our elections will use rank-choice voting when the technology is available. This will allow you to vote for multiple candidates, not just one. Many experts believe it improves the quality and diversity of candidates. Communities across the nation have seen increased voter turnout, proportionally diverse representation and less negative campaigning.

This plan to establish two districts was created by a citizens’ Charter Review Committee, a diverse group of Santa Clarans who care about our city, We ask you to join them and us as we create two districts and one Santa Clara.

This is the right plan for our city. Please vote YES on Measure A.

Submitted by:

  • Mayor Lisa Gillmor
  • Charter review committee member and Northside resident Hazel Alabado
  • City council member Dominic Caserta
  • City council member Teresa O’Neill
  • Charter review committee member Hosam Haggag

Ballot Argument Against

Vote “No” on Experimenting with Santa Clara’s Votes

Measure A seeks to change the City Charter — our Santa Clara constitution — to impose a radical voting system that almost no one understands.

Measure A would force Santa Clara to use the “single transferable vote form of ranked choice voting” — an overly complicated voting method being pushed by an outside interest group. Even Measure A’s proponents have a hard time explaining how the system is going to work.

Since Santa Clara’s city charter was adopted in 1951, the candidate with the most initial first-place votes has won each election. But in the “single transferable vote form of ranked choice voting,” the candidate with the most initial first-place votes may NOT be elected. Instead, a complicated formula decides who represents you.

Read the actual text of Measure A’s Exhibit A. Measure A REMOVES this requirement: “The person receiving the most votes cast for a particular City office shall be declared duly elected.” Deep in the fine print, the proponents of Measure A are trying to change “most votes wins” to a weird system that even they cannot adequately explain.

Elections should be more transparent, not less. Both first-time voters and long-time voters will be confused by the “single transferable vote form of ranked choice voting.”

A judge has called the plan in this ballot proposal “suspect.” We don’t need a “suspect” plan, particularly when an alternative neighborhood-based district plan can be adopted. A neighborhood plan would reduce elections costs, empower grassroots campaigns, and result in more transparent government that reflects the City’s diversity.

The right to vote is sacred. Don’t replace your ballot with a formula. Don’t change our City Charter to make government less transparent.

Vote “No” on Measure A. Santa Clara is not a political experiment. It is our home.

Submitted by:

  • Cultural Competence Advisory Committee chair Wesley K. Mukoyama
  • Japanese American Citizens League board member Mike Kaku
  • San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP President Jethroe Moore II
  • Asian Law Alliance Advisory Board member Umar Kamal
  • Peter Ortiz
  • Silicon Valley APA Democrats founding board member LaDonna Yumori-Kaku

Full ballot text is available here



  1. Your headline is broadbrush rhetoric which has become too quick and common in City and National politics (State and Ciunty, too). I was tempted to disregard the article entirely, but continued reading and appreciate that both arguments were presented fairly. Not all Santa Clarans are for Measure A. Mr. Mukoyama is a Santa Clara resident, as are other plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Outside money is going to both “Yes” and “No”. Folks should read beyond headlines & listen to as many opinions (and differing media) before reaching conclusions. Neighbors are not enemies.

  2. The Yes arguments are good. Too bad Caserta was one of the supporters. The No arguments are weak. And yup they’re all outside interests.

    I’m willing to vote yes and will hold my nose as I look at Caserta’s name.

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