By Robert Haugh
I’m writing my first special editorial for an election, ever. I’m doing it because I think there’s an important vote on the March ballot.
Measure C is about creating three Council districts for six Council Members. It’s really simple.
We’ll get to vote every election cycle for a Council candidate. It’ll be every other year with six districts.
We’ll be represented by two people, instead of one. That’s a good thing especially if you have a Council Member who doesn’t have the time or has an illness and can’t attend several meetings.
Candidates will still get to run in districts and not citywide. That helps cut down costs. It helps grassroots campaigns, too.
Those are good things and worth voting “yes” for.
But Measure C is about more than that. Some people are making it about race.
They will use words like “racially polarized voting” and “voting rights.” But really, what they’re saying is that Santa Clara voters are racist. And I think that’s just wrong.
Santa Clarans are Not Racists
There have been a lot of comments on Facebook and on this site about racism. I’ve lived in the Mission City for over 35 years. I’ve covered news and politics here for about 15 years. I can tell you that Santa Clarans are not racist.
We live in a racially and economically diverse city. We don’t have neighborhoods dominated by this group or that group. That’s one of the reasons why it was really hard for a court to create an “Asian” Council district in Santa Clara. Because of a lawsuit, Judge Thomas Kuhnle had to lower the legal standards and create small districts. That’s why some legal experts think Santa Clara will win the court appeal.
Measure C opponents say small districts are important to help minority candidates. That’s why Raj Chahal got elected in 2018. But they forget that same year in another small district, Karen Hardy, a white woman, beat Sam Kumar, an Asian man. Kumar also spent almost 10 times what Hardy did.
And they must forget that in 2018, Santa Clarans elected Hosam Haggag as City Clerk. He’s the first Muslim-American candidate to be elected in Santa Clara County. And he did it by winning citywide — not in a small district, and against white candidates.
Santa Clarans vote for the candidate’s qualifications, not their skin color.
The 49ers are Trying to Control the City Council, Again
As many people know, the 49ers have put in over $300,000 to oppose Measure C. As far we know, they don’t really care about “voting rights.” They say they do. And local reporters just repeat it. But the team has never supported “voting rights” before by spending a lot of money. So it makes you wonder. They’ve supported candidates in the past, almost always white candidates.
What we do know is that the 49ers want to control the Council. And they want to change the stadium curfew. They can make a lot more money at the stadium that way. They don’t really care about Northside neighborhoods or the quality of life of our residents.
Thanks to the work of City Clerk Haggag, the 49ers were forced to report their spending. But it looks like they still violated the Dark Money Ordinance. (see Editor’s Note below).
It’s not like they haven’t tried to use dark money before. In 2016, the 49ers were connected to BluPAC. They tried to win Council races that year and take control of the Council. But they failed.
Let’s hope the 49ers’ dark money effort fails again. It’s important for Santa Clarans to be in charge of Santa Clara, not a billion dollar NFL football team.
So, I’ll be voting “yes” on Measure C. It’s good for the future of Santa Clara. That’s what we all should care about.
Editor’s Note: There will be a “town hall” on the Dark Money Ordinance. City Clerk Haggag will provide info and answer questions. It’s Monday, February 24, at 7 p.m. You can join a conference call, dial-in, or watch online. Here’s a flyer with all the info.