By Kirk Vartan
Editor’s Note: This is a transcript of a statement Santa Clara businessman and community leader Kirk Vartan made at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, November 13.
Good evening Elected Mayor and Council. I feel it is important to say “elected” because of all the petty nonsense using the term “appointed”. It wasn’t just used by her opponent, but also a minority voice on this council. It was disheartening to see a former Mayor and current council member, albeit an admonished council member, lash out and champion an opponent whose team created frivolous and unsubstantiated lawsuits and fairytales.
What is great to see is the Dark Money ordinance that the previously appointed Mayor Lisa Gillmor led worked. It worked so well that the lawyers had to find new ways to funnel dark money. All this to try to take down the Mayor. Call her “appointed.” Call her “elected.” Either way, she has led Santa Clara in transparency, fiscal responsibility, park fee creation, stadium management, and citizen engagement. This election showed the current direction the City is heading is the right way and has the support of an overwhelming majority of the people.
I hope this sends a clear message to the council members that the time for division is over. Put the City first, not other groups or personal issues. If you have a problem with your Mayor, step down and do something else. We have wasted enough time bickering, fighting, and talking about the 49ers. Let’s all get behind managing the team, getting the financial stuff sorted out, and come up with a plan that makes the area thrive. With a unified council/Stadium Authority, the 49ers will cooperate and collaborate.
Here is my request for this Council over the next two years: Look at your opportunities, needs, and goals. Make decisions with the future in mind, not just the next 2-4 years, but the next 2-4 decades. There are many things that the City can do to help the community, whether it is affordable housing, supporting mom-and-pop shops, or creating vibrant places for people and placemaking. Working with other cities in the region is critical, and working with Cupertino and San Jose on the Stevens Creek Transportation Innovation Zone is a great example of this collaboration, so keep it going!
I would like to ask that we look at ways to help the small businesses in the area, specifically reviewing and studying the employee-owned worker cooperative model. We don’t want to lose more businesses like Wilson’s Bakery, By Th’ Bucket, or 456 Chinese Restaurant. And I am sure you know many more that have just disappeared over the years.
There’s a lot to do and we need to focus our energies on solving these problems, not fighting with each other or our stadium partner. It doesn’t really matter what the past issues were anymore. The people have voted. This is your Mayor. These are your council members. This is a great team. The people resisting the Mayor-led vision for Santa Clara need to get on board OR go away. Gone are the days of the Santa Clara “Old Guard.”
Congratulations, Mayor Lisa Gillmor.
You more than earned that seat and that title. Thank you for putting up with all the attacks, cheap shots, and lies. Thank you for leading this City with enthusiasm.
Harkness…what, no feedback on my comments? You brought up a lot of questions and it seems like you have a fair amount of misunderstanding about what I spoke of. So, I tried to be more descriptive. And is Jack Harkness your name or a fake name? Is this James Rowan in disguise?
Becker was a Planning Commissioner. He had the support of Mahan, the Weekly, and “dark money” that hit Gillmor with a lawsuit during the campaign. And the Chamber that spent thousands of dollars to attach Gillmor. And she got 75 %!
Matthews ran against a Bress — a true nobody with no support from nobody. And Matthews was in the 60s!
And don’t forget – Bress was 30.36% and she had no Dark Money, Weekly, Chamber PAC, Mahan, etc., etc. helping her!! Tony has 25.97% So much for no special interests, Tony!! Bress had NONE!
It’s a shame and a sham you won’t reveal your true identity “Au Contraire”. You and “disgusted” must be the same potentially perv posting perfunctory perfusions. Please show me in Bekcer’s statements the dark money. Say what you will. Had the election cycle been a full term instead of a few months, and had Gillmore actually had a campaiin event where she faced Becker, the tide might have been different. Who knows who is on the Planning Commission besides, you apparently. I dont follow the Commish and most of my fellow residents dont either. You and others here talk like you see Gillmore as some sort of supreme leader who should have power over all.
Wow Jack Harkness has the same rhymes and lame nonsense writing style as the loser Miles Barber👉 potentially perv posting perfunctory perfusions.
Gee… sure is a shame you resorted to insultings me instead of trying to engeage in some form of discussion Carol. Perhaps youd like to address some point I made?
Great article Kirk, You said it all. I agree, that we should start over,instead of arguing like a bunch of kids. Like a have said before “‘ you have a right to your opinion but there is a way to say it , nice or nasty . Please we all need to try to get along.
Lisa Gillmor has the right balance of business experience and savvy with caring about the City and people of Santa Clara. I believe her human touch is what sets are apart from the rest. Our concerns are being heard and conquered. Whether it be the 49’ers, the Chamber of commerce / convention center, or out of town developers trying to build high-density apartments in the middle of suburban neighborhoods, Lisa has our backs.
Awesome vision and leadership!
I hope the council doesn’t just cow to the mayor’s tune. She ran against a virtual nobody who only had a few months to get a campaign together. This nobody got 25% of the vote which shows Santa Claranes arent united behind the mayor eitehr. She refused to debate him. Why run and hide? But that would have given his campaign legitimacy and more votes.
I want to encourage council members to not step down if they have a problem with the mayor. Instead stand up and make your concerns known. Polite disagreement can bring about cooperation. It doesnt have to lead to “I’m right and you’re wrong” which Mr. Varten shows here. That’s whats wrong with the country as a whole – there’s no cooperation amoung differing viewpoints..
The busineses listed – By The Bucket closed but the owners never stated why. It seems a bit of a stretch they closed because they didn’t have a worker cooperative.
456 is closed because the owners wanted to retire. Good for them! Besides, we’re not losing anything. In fact, China Delight will move into their location. My parents are thrilled since they don’t have to drive to Cupertino to enjoy their food from this Santa Clara favorite. Funny how Mr. Varten didn’t mention China Delight.
Wilsons closed because the owners wanted to retire. Good for them! Why can’t they be allowed to do that without people insisting a cooperative be created to continue the restaurant. Somethings don’t last forever and this can be a good thing too. Maybe in a few years another business will move in and become well known or maybe Justens will learn how to make a restaurant work there or maybe when the new downtown comes, a restarant will be able to thrive there.
Why does the city council need to help small businesses? Whats next? Will they help gas stations, fast food places. McD’s is closing on Scott. Should the city worry about that? A Chick Fill A is going there. Bennigans closed. They said it was the high cost of doing business in Santa Clara and sited taxes, building maintenance and labor costs. And thats a big company saying that. Should the city help them too?
This comment you leave is *exactly* why there needs to be a study session around worker-cooperatives:
“Wilsons closed because the owners wanted to retire. Good for them! Why can’t they be allowed to do that without people insisting a cooperative be created to continue the restaurant.”
For you to say this tells me you do not understand what a worker cooperative is and why there is a desperate need to inform and educate the community, bit consumers and business owners. While I would be happy to chat about these things here, I don’t know if this is the proper forum for it. Maybe another letter in the future :).
If there was a way to continue the Wilson’s legacy, continue to make their baked goods, even their cannoli, wouldn’t we want to do that? If the employees working there could continue the operation and ultimately buy-out the owners, giving an exit strategy for the family, what is wrong with that? Wouldn’t you want to support a business that is owned by the workers, profits go to the workers, and the small business legacy continues in the community? These scenarios are not “pick one;” rather, they are all results of converting the business to a worker cooperative. I never suggested any business closed because they didn’t become a worker cooperative, and the cooperative business model (based on existing legal business structures like an LLC or S-corp) has many benefits for the employees besides profit sharing.
And think about this: we hear about the “silver tsunami” (the aging of our baby boomers). ~65% of all small businesses are owned by baby boomers and they are looking to retire. Few will actually sell their business and even fewer have children that want to take over the “family business.” The result: businesses close…they just disappear. Don’t we all want to ensure we can keep our neighborhood shops alive and healthy? These small businesses are what make our neighborhoods and communities special.
There is a lot of information out there, but it can be confusing. I look forward to helping support a discussion on worker cooperatives. Santa Clara is the first city in Santa Clara County to have a retail/brick-and-mortar worker cooperative, and I look forward to seeing the next one here!
Hello, Santa Clara! Pam here. We in Santa Cruz have lost a number of locally-owned small legacy businesses that added both economic and cultural benefits to our community. Had we institutions in place to support worker-ownership some of those businesses could still be providing for the families of those worker owners as well as their established customer base. We have an ideal of political democracy in the US, but we don’t seem to understand that economic democracy is just as important. As a result we have a very few people with more wealth than the rest of us making for a very unstable society. There’s lots of good online info about worker coops, and you’ve got Kirk right in your town who is a successful worker owner. You can learn much from him.
It is refreshing to read this opinion and always this column. Am sick and tired of reading a lot of BS about the mayor. The Weekly slams her. The Merc slams her. Where is there a fare opinion of someone who got 74 percnt of vote? I have looked at all results and this lady so far has won every precint in SC. She has stood up for north SC residents against stadium and has over 80 percnt of vote in that area. Go look!!! The people have spoken. Take the sour grapes some where else. I wish I could tell the nasty people to go f*** themselves but that would be to nice. You are a disgrace as writers. Leave the mayor alone. Just go away. The people have spoken.
Great mayor, great woman and great for Santa Clara.
Lisa cares about the residents of Santa Clara and voted to support them on 1520 Pomeroy. Teresa O’Neill voted against the residence in her own district. The mayor knows where the density is less harmful to the existing neighbors. Tasman East.