Judge Thomas Kuhnle’s Rush to Create New Districts Could Be a Nightmare

By Robert Haugh

Last night, the City Council had a special meeting. They included  a “hearing” to review possible council district maps that Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Thomas Kuhnle is forcing the city to come up with.

Originally, the city set up four public hearings which seemed really rushed, especially compared what the diverse Citizens Charter Review Committee did. They met for approximately a year and had over a dozen public hearings to draw a two-district map for Santa Clara.

Now, the process is being rushed even more by Kuhnle who’s set up a court hearing on Wednesday, July 18.  As we mentioned before, Kuhnle doesn’t really have any political experience. He worked at an international law firm on business disputes before becoming a judge.

His lack of political experience could create a nightmare because he’s rushing the city. At last night’s meeting, City Attorney Brian Doyle said “I do not believe our process really meets the spirit of the elections code … but this is the order that the judge gave us.” Wow. That may be helpful to the city when they appeal. You can watch Doyle’s statement at 2:42.15 mark.

But Kuhnle’s biggest problem could be forcing the Registrar of Voters to create 6 or 7 districts in time for the November, 2018 election. That’s really fast.

Again, Kuhnle’s lack of political experience is showing. If he doesn’t know that our Registrar has had lots of serious problems over the last few years, he hasn’t been paying attention to local politics.

In 2013, the Mercury News once said of the Registrar, Shannon Bushey before she got the permanent job:

By the way, about acting Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey: If she’s on the list of possible appointees to the permanent job, hit the delete button now.

Since then, the office that Bushey leads sent voters the wrong ballots and omitted information.  A few months ago, the ROV even left out the major biographic info from County Supervisorial candidate Jason Baker’s profile.

Last year, a state audit pointed out that drawing districts — exactly what Kuhnle wants them to do — has been a big problem.  According to ABC7 News:

The audit shows numerous cases where mapping for the district boundaries were done incorrectly and that resulted in voters receiving the wrong ballots.

Wow. So Judge Kuhnle thinks our Registrar can create new Santa Clara districts and mail the right ballots to the right voters — in a few months! Good luck with that. I wouldn’t be surprised if my neighbors and I end up having to vote for Sunnyvale City Council candidates.



  1. All the convoluted processes, legal intervention, and cost, just a stack the deck. No one’s even sure it will work.

  2. If you want to elect Asian candidates, you’re better making the changes and focusing on 2020, a presidential year when all demographic groups turnout at a higher rate. For Asian voters it was 49.3 percent in 2016 nationally — a historic high.

  3. Good points, Robert. It seems to me that the integrity of the process is important. So why the rush when it’ll create mistakes and cause voters to lose faith in the system?

  4. Oh boy did you get this right. The ROV is a disaster. You forgot to mention how they lost their top technology person days before the November 2014 election. This is what happens when you have judges that don’t have a clue about the real world. You’ll be lucky if you’re voting in Sunnyvale and not Gilroy.

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