Police Officers’ PAC Starts Early Campaign to Elect Pat Nikolai for Police Chief

By Robert Haugh

The election to elect Santa Clara’s next Police Chief will happen in March 2020. It looks like Pat Nikolai is not only the frontrunner, he’s the only candidate. 

We won’t know for sure until early December when the filing deadline for candidates closes. But the Santa Clara Police Officers Association has already started its campaign to help Nikolai. They endorsed him in mid-September.

Even though there’s no other announced candidate, the POA’s PAC is already running online ads for Nikolai. Multiple sources say they started seeing the ads in early November. 

It looks like the POA PAC is serious about spending its money. We reported in September that they authorized spending $250,000. Wow.

Here’s what POA President Alex Torke had to say: “We consider Pat Nikolai’s candidacy for Police Chief to be absolutely critical as we work to improve our department and protect Santa Clara. We’ve committed resources now to educate voters in support of that goal.”

In early November, Dan Winter, the Assistant Police Chief, decided not to run. Multiple sources say Winter couldn’t get any good endorsements. 

Nikolai announced an early endorsement from District Attorney Jeff Rosen. Here’s how one source put it: “Winter had no shot to win with endorsements from (Santa Clara Weekly Publisher/Lobbyist) Miles Barber, Patty Mahan and Raj Chahal when put up against Pat Nikolai, Jeff Rosen and Lisa Gillmor.”


  1. wow $250,000.00 !!!! …….. tell me….is that developer money that is funneled through the POA just like they did with the Firefighters Union in 2016 and 2018 elections ? asking for a friend…

    That is exactly how how a slew of candidates got elected? I suggest everyone check out the 460’s and see who really are grassroots candidates and who was taking developer money through the police and firefighter unions. Currently i think this is the same plans.
    $250,000.00 is a lot of money that can be spent in better places. Must be a lot at stake to get someone they really want in office for $250,000. That is a quarter of a million dollars arsenal. That is something worth investigating.
    Nikolai can be a nice guy, yet I just hope he isn’t being used or puppeteer’d for other agendas.
    Sellers is by far the most qualified, I respect him bowing out. But it’s unfair how he is treated by this news blog. its more insults rather than character and qualities and what he does in the community.

    • The POA bought a part of an industrial building and used it for a POA Hall for several years. A couple of years ago a “Developer” bought that building along with many others and it is the development now underway at Corvin and Kiefer. Go have a look. There are no secrets or “funneling” or “dark money” shenanigan’s. Everyone who owned spaces in the building got paid the same based on square footage. The POA got no special deal.

      Like many property owners here in the valley they MADE money when they sold and are now sitting on what is an unprecedented amount of cash for that organization. Its not a fortune, but it is enough for them to go all in when they, as a group, decided to back Nikolai. Yes, it is nice to have the ability to do something with that money. And yes it is a large commitment to Nikolai. But it is not “dirty”, “funneled”, “dark” or some other obnoxious conspiracy theory ignorance.

      As for what to do with the money, the SCPD donates thousands of dollars to various local charitable entities every year. This on top of all the other charitable work they do both as a POA and at the PD.

      Lastly, Dan Winter is a fine man and has lived an honorable and hard working career. Unfortunately for him, he is not the person to lead the SCPD right now. Nikolai appears to be the right person but time will tell. He deserves a chance.

      The women and men of the SCPD are backing Nikolai very strongly, and have been for several years. We should all respect that. It is an outstanding group of people and we are lucky to have them assembled together for our protection.

  2. Attacking Dan Winters makes you look small. Dan Winters is not only a man of integrity but a great cop as well. He would have made an excellent Chief. He decided not to run so as not to put the department and the city through the negativity and contentious election as it had already started to become. You can endorse and like Pat Without tearing down another individual. I do not know Pat, but am willing to give him a chance and who knows, I might find out I like him as well as I do Dan

    • Winter campaigned his @ss off for months trying to succeed Sellers. He only stopped when he figured out he couldn’t win. Winter doesn’t care about the department. He never has. He sits in his office and keeps his head down.

      Winter is a friendly guy. But he has no integrity. That’s why he threw Sellers under the bus in the POA interviews. He should be called out for what he did. He should be honest about it. Don’t believe me? Ask the POA members who were there and heard him.

  3. Just so everyone has the record straight. Can you let everyone know how much money did the Santa Clara Police Officers POA, give to DA Jeff Rosen political campaign? Not that there anything wrong with it but let’s get the facts out there. In addition just stating facts again LT Nikolai, knows that only Captains and above are PD Management and only Captains get to go to FBI training. Also, can LT Nikolai let us know from which University he got his degree from?

    • In fact, you do not have to be a Captain to attend the FBI Academy. The SCPD has sent every one of their now Captains (and all before as far as I know), including Winter, to the FBI as Lieutenants. It is basically a prerequisite to becoming a Captain.
      It is a waste of time and money in my opinion, but that’s another story.

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