By Robert Haugh
The Council will screen 24 applicants tonight to try and fill disgraced Councilman Dominic Caserta’s vacated seat.
That’s twice the amount of candidates that applied in March, 2016. A lot of them are well-qualified. It shows a lot of interest in what’s happening at City Hall. Kudos to the council and city staff.
Today, the Council needs a super majority vote – five of six Councilmembers to make an appointment. That’s because of a measure drafted by the Charter Review Committee and approved by Santa Clara voters in November, 2016. The purpose was to force the council to select a consensus candidate, not just someone favored by the majority.
Councilwoman Patty Mahan has vehemently voiced her displeasure about the Council making an appointment, even a consensus one. Councilman Pat Kolstad has also said he’d like to leave the seat open until the November election. But most Santa Clara political observers don’t believe them and think they’re playing politics with the appointment.
Maybe that’s because in 2011, Mahan and Kolstad were among the majority vote that appointed current Mayor Lisa Gillmor to Jamie Matthews’ vacated council seat (Matthews won a bid for Mayor). Kolstad also voted to appoint current Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe to a council vacancy in 2016.
Now, Mahan and Kolstad suddenly say appointing someone to Caserta’s seat is inappropriate.
It doesn’t make any sense. Neither does their argument that voters should pick the Caserta replacement. The Mission City overwhelmingly decided (by 80 percent!) that the council should pick a consensus candidate to fill vacancies. And Santa Clara voters will have a chance to fill the seat in November — regardless of an appointment.
If Mahan and Kolstad refuse to appoint a councilmember, it’ll be the first time in the Charter era that a seat will be left vacant. Here’s the history:
Council and Mayor appointments in the Charter era:
- Larry Marsalli 11/1965
- John Mahan 4/1977
- Vern Deto 12/1985
- Lisa Gillmor 1/2011
- Lisa Gillmor — Mayor 2/2016
- Kathy Watanabe 3/2016
Ironically, the Mahan that was appointed in 1977 was Patty’s father John Mahan.
The 24 Applicants:
David Ladd Anderson; Nancy A. Biagini (Serrano); Andrew Chan; Christina Cielusniak; Noah Clemons; Abhik Dutta; Susan Ellefson; Eversley Forte; Hosam Haggag; Kevin Heller; Sudhanshu (Suds) Jain; Sowmya Krishnan; Joie Le; Ashish Mangla; Kevin M. McMahon; Robert Meier; Mohammed Nadeem; Vincent Navarro; Kevin Park; Lara Ruffolo; Frederick Armstrong Shaul; Chris Stampolis; Susan Beth Tsolinas; and Sara Yoders.
Three candidates ran for city council recently: Jain, Nadeem and Park. They can all claim to have a following for that reason. All three have served on city commissions, too. But Nadeem may have shot himself in the foot with his endorsement of Caserta for Supervisor. He looks like the only one on the list who did so.
Six other candidates have served on city commissions, according to their applications: Biagini, Chan, Forte, Haggag, Mangla and Stampolis.
If a consensus candidate emerges, look for someone from this group of nine.
But that means Mahan or Kolstad will have to do what they’ve done in the past — appoint a well-qualified candidate. Or they’ll make history by failing to do what the voters overwhelmingly approved.
It should be interesting to hear them explain that.