By Teresa Sulcer
This is an open letter to the Santa Clara City Council:
I am writing to express my disappointment at what happened at last week’s Council meeting because of the actions of Councilmembers Pat Kostad and Patty Mahan.
On Tuesday night there was a terrible lost opportunity to show vision and leadership and to make room on the City of Santa Clara Council – for a new member who would bring diversity of opinion, background and expertise to our City government.
Any one of the final candidates would have made an excellent addition to our Council, and would clearly reflect the wishes of the electorate. They all have a history of being active members of the Community and have devoted countless volunteer hours to bettering our City, its democracy and our way of life (I refer to their bios and personal statements).
In the case of three of the candidates, the people of Santa Clara are well acquainted with them as they had run for City Council in previous elections. In 2016 one of the candidates received a mere 4% fewer votes than Council Member Mahan. In 2014, one candidate received only 10% fewer votes than Council Member Kolstad.
At the start of the Council meeting all of you took an oath to act in the best interests of the City and its residents. Then you all voted to accept the process put forward by the City Clerk on how the appointment would be conducted. And yet, when the time came to follow through on this, Councilmembers Kolstad and Mahan reneged on their duty and their oaths and refused to participate.
Councilmember Mahan read her prepared statement at 1:30 am – after most of the public had already left – while trying to persuade people that her decision was not pre-planned. Had she announced this earlier, concerned citizens would have had the opportunity to address this abdication of duty.
Councilmember Kolstad didn’t even bother to justify his actions.
We have seven seats on our City Council for a reason. The City is best represented and protected when all the Council seats are occupied. Diversity of opinion, knowledge, backgrounds and interests are what create a robust and healthy environment for governing. A full Council is the best way to represent our diverse City and is required by our City charter.
It is disheartening and extremely disappointing that 2 members of our Council lacked this vision and leadership. As a consequence of this behavior I respectfully request that the Council immediately do the following –
1. Create a process for censure as soon as possible. As soon as this process is in place Council Members Mahan and Kolstad should be censured for their dereliction of duty by failing to participate in appointing a candidate to the vacant council seat after they voted to do so
2. Please put on the agenda for the next Council meeting an opportunity for the public to address Council Members Mahan and Kolstad to express our disappointment at this lack of leadership.
3. After every Council meeting there should be public access to the voting record of the meeting and a public profile of each Council member and their entire voting record for the duration of their term.
Editor’s Note: Teresa Sulcer is a Santa Claran who served on the Charter Review Committee. She is also the President of the Board of Directors of the Kona Kai Swim and Racquet Club. This letter was sent to the City Council and Mayor on June 17, 2018. This letter has been slightly edited for clarity with the author’s permission.