Election Update: Hosam Haggag Takes Lead in City Clerk’s Race

By Robert Haugh

On election night, we knew Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Karen Hardy would win in landslides. Other candidate races were too close to call. But now the picture is clearer.

In a what may be a big come-from-behind victory, Hosam Haggag has moved into first place for City Clerk. On election night, Bob O’Keefe had a 25-22 percent lead over Haggag. Now, Haggag leads 25-24 percent.


Hosam Haggag
Hosam Haggag

As of Monday night, Haggag had 5,773 votes. O’Keefe had 5,520. There were a total of six candidates in the race. They’ve received a combined 23,205 votes so far.

The County Registrar’s website estimates that 80 percent of the vote has been counted. So it’s still not over. The fat lady has not begun singing. But if the trend continues, Haggag could increase his current 253 vote lead. He would be the first Muslim-American to be elected in Santa Clara.

Raj Chahal won the District 2 Council seat. Chahal got 53 percent of the vote. His total Monday night was 2,164 votes.  Chahal will be the first Asian-American elected to the City Council.

Only three candidates ran in District 2. As of Monday, Nancy Biagini received 1,522 votes for 37 percent and Mario Bouza received 394 votes for 10 percent.

The reason Chahal’s vote total pales in comparison to Haggag and O’Keefe is because of a court-ordered district election. Judge Thomas Kuhnle ruled earlier this year that there’s racially polarized voting in Santa Clara and he created districts to help minority candidates.  So Chahal ran in one of six newly created council districts. They have a small number of voters.

But if Haggag holds on for a victory in the Clerk’s race, it shows that Kuhnle was wrong about racially polarized voting in Santa Clara.  A “minority” candidate can win a citywide election in the Mission City without the help of districts.

It looks like Chahal will be elected with the lowest number of votes in history for a Santa Clara City Council candidate. Hardy won the only other district election on the ballot this year — for District 3. Hardy won in a landslide and has 3,058 votes as of Monday.

Keep reading this site for updates on the City Clerk’s race.


  1. This discussion of race and ethnicity opens up a whole can of worms that isn’t best suited for an online comments discussion. But in summary I’m a firm believer that qualifications supersede racial voting in a city as diverse and educated as ours.

    Now for those interested in opening up that can of worms…

    Zafar bhai, I’m not Asian American either since my parents are from Egypt. (My in-laws are from Iraq so technically my wife is Asian American).

    Mike is incorrect in saying that Middle Easterners are technically considered White/Caucasian. We are not. Neither are we descended from the Caucuses nor does the US federal government recognize Middle Easterners as a race (there was a push to get it officially recognized for the 2020 census but that failed). Arab is also an incomplete term since it focuses on the spoken language and not the geography of origin (ex: Sudanese, Somali and Eritreans are Arab but not typically considered Middle Eastern).

    What Middle Easterners or Arabs often end up doing is either 1) listing Other 2) picking based on the color of their skin (as we come in all colors… white black and brown and everything in between) 3) picking based on the continent they originate from.

    If you were to go based on #2 above I guess my skin tone is more white than brown (although I have direct family members who lean heavily on the other end of the spectrum). And if you were to go based on #3 above I’d technically be considered African American. (Which may sound absurd and gets even more complicated when you want to consider whether a 5th generation Afrikaner is African or Caucasian).

    Which back to my initial comment (before opening this can of worms) that race is a social construct. I am not at all belittling the plight and challenges some races have historically had (whether they be African Americans descended from the slave trade, or our foster daughter of 2 years being from Burma and the ethnic cleansing going on over there).

    But as Richard so aptly put it: I am simply human 😉. And I hope that people voted for me not because I was a certain ethnicity or race but because they believed (as I do) that I’m the most qualified candidate for the job.

  2. Sorry for the typo. I meant “devolved” not “deviokved”. As regards districts, Santa Clara demographics show insignificant ethnic geographic representation, an argument in favor of at-large. But, on the other hand, the newly defined districts will result in a more equal geographic representation on the Council than in the past. I think we should appreciate that, and not risk City funds on legal fees and reimbursements.

  3. Dear Robert,

    I appreciate reading your thoughtful insights. But I am little surprised why do you categorize Hossam as a Muslim American whereas Raj as an Asian American? Are they both not Asian Americans?


  4. Robert,

    Thanks for listing the number of votes for the candidates. Mayor Gillmor should be reading these numbers when she has to take into account “seniority.” Karen Hardy should be considered to have first choice of assignments over Raj Chahal because of her greater vote total.

  5. Hey Mike OH,

    If you agree with the lawsuit, then you’re saying Santa Clarans are racist. I’m not. My neighbors are not. I vote for the best candidate. Yes, I voted for Haggag and I did not consider him white. But the best candidate. We don’t need districts.

    • Wihelm, no I don’t agree with the Court decision. I’d much rather have the at-large voting, though without it’s by seat format, which I believed disadvantages non-incumbent & new candidates. But, the Court has decided, and I believe an appeal will fail and waste further legal costs. I do feel that Santa Clara politics have deviokved into identity politics, embollic of state and national politics , where affiliation is more important than what, in the manner we address issues. That both the SC Weekly and this SCN blog are lending focus to that, emphasizing the minority aspacts of the vote, is discouraging. There are other City issues, and beyond the Stadium, though issues there need to be addressed on the basis of what & not who. I believe that was a significant disappointment of the 2016 elections, not the candidates, but the limited discussions (as well as the PAC influences and non-transparency).

  6. Hosam’s Middle East national origin/race is considered “white” under the California and Federal voting rights act. He would not be considered a minority or protected class member. I would think that Raj Chalal’s election as the first Asian Council member occurring in a Court ordered district election would have more legal bearing in the appeal brought by the City, and if anything support the plaintiffs original lawsuit.

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