By Robert Haugh
The redistricting/civil rights lawsuit against Santa Clara took an interesting and political turn yesterday. The plaintiffs suing the City now propose seven council districts and the elimination of Santa Clara’s directly elected at-large mayor. The mayor would be selected by the council, not the voters.
That’s interesting because the plaintiffs previously proposed six council districts with a directly elected at-large mayor. A few sources who are closely watching the lawsuit think the plaintiffs are taking political aim at Mayor Lisa Gillmor.
One source says that some, not all, of the plaintiffs and their supporters were major backers of former Congressman Mike Honda. They are still unhappy that Gillmor was an early and prominent backer of Congressman Ro Khanna who defeated the long-time incumbent Honda in 2016.
We did a quick look at Honda’s campaign finance reports. Two of the plaintiffs are financial contributors to Honda: Michael Kaku and Ladonna Yumori Kaku who made her first contribution to a Honda congressional campaign in 2001.
Some addition political speculation suggests that Kathy Watanabe is also a target for political payback. She was also an early and active Khanna supporter. During the last few months, the plaintiffs contend that Watanabe should not represent the Asian community even though she has an Asian surname and her spouse is Asian. Go figure.
Yesterday, Judge Thomas Kuhnle’s courtroom was packed. No decision was made after many hours of testimony and deliberation. A decision could be made by Friday or early next week.
According to multiple sources, two councilmembers were spectators in the courtroom: Teresa O’Neill and Patty Mahan.
O’Neill sat with the City’s delegation including City Attorney Brian Doyle.
Mahan and her sister, Jeannie Mahan, sat with the plaintiff’s delegation. Patty has publicly supported the plaintiffs against the city in the lawsuit and the Measure A election. Jeannie organized the independent expenditure for former disgraced Councilmember Dominic Caserta’s supervisorial campaign earlier this year. She raised big money from developers and 49er contractors.