By Robert Haugh
Well, Judge Thomas Kuhnle is making things interesting. And no, that’s not a compliment.
Kuhnle amended his order from yesterday that created six council districts in Santa Clara to help elect Asian candidates.
He now says Districts 2 and 3 will be on the November ballot, as we predicted yesterday. Those are seats without an incumbent running. They’re open because disgraced former Councilman Dominic Caserta resigned and Councilman Pat Kolstad moved to Washington state and won’t run for re-election. Candidates must be residents of Districts 2 and 3. Only voters in Districts 2 and 3 will be able to be council candidates in the November 2018 election.
Here’s the bad news: two-thirds of Santa Clarans won’t get a chance to vote for a council candidate in 2018. Voters in districts 1, 4, 5, and 6 will have to wait until 2020. So will candidates who live in those districts.
Here’s what the City’s press release says:
This will mean that only a fraction of eligible voters who live in Santa Clara will be able to elect councilmembers in November 2018, whereas prior to the court’s order, all eligible voters could vote for all of the council members.
The good news is everyone in the Mission City will get a change to vote for Mayor. That election is still citywide and Mayor Lisa Gillmor is up for re-election. That’s not likely to be competitive though.
Here’s another interesting thing in the City’s press release:
In compliance with the court’s order, the City has already transmitted the required data regarding district boundaries to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.
Our sources in the County building say the Registrar of Voters’ staff is going crazy over Kuhnle’s order that came to them really late in the election cycle. Registrar Shannon Bushey is having people work seven days a week to try and draw the new districts correctly. Wow.
One high level source called it a “train wreck.” People who know the Registrar’s history don’t get why Kuhnle rushed an office known for making big mistakes. In fact, a state audit last year says they screwed up drawing district boundaries — and that was when they weren’t rushed by a late order.
We’ll have to keep our fingers crossed. So will Kuhnle, because he’ll look really bad if things are screwed up due to his late order. And what if no Asian candidates get elected soon? That will mean a judge with no real political experience decided to single handedly change the Santa Clara city charter for nothing.