By Robert Haugh
The Plaintiffs who sued Santa Clara to create council districts to help elect Asian candidates must have thought that a victory by the Measure A campaign would hurt their chances in court.
According to campaign finance reports (Form 460), two of the plaintiffs Michael Kaku and Ladonna Yumori Kaku contributed a combined $1,000 to the No on Measure A campaign.
These two were also long-time contributors to former Congressman Mike Honda. That financial relationship raised suspicion that when the plaintiffs tried to force Judge Thomas Kuhnle to choose a 7-district map and get rid of the elected mayor. Some saw it as payback for Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe who supported Congressman Ro Khanna who beat Honda in 2016.
Another plaintiff, Wes Mukoyama, contributed $1,000. Attorneys for the Asian Law Alliance and former Assemblymember Paul Fong who were active in the lawsuit also contributed a total of approximately $2,000.
Another interesting contributor was Jeannie Mahan. She gave $200. But she made a more valuable contribution. It was discovered during the trial that Jeannie Mahan drove the plaintiffs’ attorneys and demographer around Santa Clara to help them draw the 7-district maps.
Another plaintiff, Umar Kamal contributed $1,000. He said in a public Measure A debate at the Muslim Community Association with Charter Review Committee member Hosam Haggag, “please vote No on A so we can win the lawsuit.” Wow. He also moved away from Santa Clara recently.
Another interesting expenditure is a $1,000 payment to Eric Stroker, a consultant with past ties to Ed McGovern, the political consultant for disgraced former Councilman Dominic Caserta and the 49ers.
Measure A would have created two districts in Santa Clara, one north of El Camino and one south. Three council members would have been elected from each district. Ranked-choice voting would have been implemented when the County could adopt the right technology. The city’s demographer thought multiple candidates in a district would actually make it easier to elect minority and neighborhood candidates. As reported in the Mercury News:
“It has taken me awhile to understand the relative advantages of this method that is being proposed to you and I’m convinced that it has real potential to achieve purposes of the California Voting Rights Act,” Jeanne Gobalet, a demographer hired by the city told the council recently. “I think I am persuaded now that it has the potential to do so even better than the single-member districts.”
So, this November, thanks to the No on A campaign and their contributors, 2/3rds of Santa Clarans won’t be able to vote for a city councilmember.
Editor’s note: Two paragraphs (about Kumal and Stroker) were added after original publication.