By Robert Haugh
There was a debate last night about Measure C. One of the major points of disagreement is what happens if Measure C fails.
The No Campaign was represented by Vice Mayor Karen Hardy and Councilman Raj Chahal. They repeatedly said Santa Clara would have to maintain 6 districts because of a judge’s order.
But they didn’t read a San Jose Spotlight story written by Katie Lauer from yesterday. It’s a long story but here’s an important sentence:
The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters confirmed Wednesday that if Measure C fails, the city will return to its illegal at-large elections.
That’s the same conclusion that City Attorney Brian Doyle came to and put in his “Impartial Analysis” that appears in the voter pamphlet.
According to Doyle, no one challenged his analysis when they could have. The Asian Law Alliance didn’t challenge it. And they’re the ones who sued the City in the first place.
The 49ers didn’t challenge Doyle’s analysis even though they’re spending over $600,000 to defeat Measure C.
So If you vote No on Measure C, we keep an illegal at-large voting system according to the City Attorney and the Registrar of Voters.
If you vote Yes on Measure C, we get 6 councilmembers in 3 districts, plus a directly elected mayor.
We had a chance to watch the Measure C debate at City Hall hosted by the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association (SVTA). It was well done.
Former San Jose City Councilman Pete Constant was a good moderator. He really did his homework on Measure C. He asked a lot of good questions.
The Yes on Measure C side was represented by Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilwoman Teresa O’Neill. They did a good job citing reasons for the city’s appeal. They got out some detailed info we hadn’t heard before.
Gillmor said 3 of the last 10 elections presented in the court case were racially polarized. But that’s too low to meet the legal test for racially polarized voting.
So Judge Thomas Kuhnle amended the data to show that 5 of 10 were racially polarized. But to get to 5, Kuhnle had to lower the threshold from 95 percent probability to 80 percent. Wow.
Hardy and Chahal were strong in their arguments about how smaller districts help candidates. They both won in 2018 and didn’t have to raise a lot of money for their campaigns. But they never really made the case that just because it’s good for them, it’s also good for Santa Clara.
Chahal also focused a lot on the court’s judgement. He held it up and read from it multiple times.
Hardy made a blunder that may come back to bite her.
Constant asked how important it is for Santa Clarans to vote for Council candidates in each election.
Hardy didn’t think it was important. She said “to say that Santa Clarans are lining up and beating down the doors to vote every time doesn’t make sense to me.”
O’Neill rebutted Hardy by saying that “being able to vote is very important.” O’Neill cited high voter turnout stats in Santa Clara and said that “to say that people don’t really care if they vote or not is a very disingenuous comment.”
Overall, it was a good debate with a lot of helpful info. We hope undecided voters watch it before they vote. You can watch it on YouTube at this link. It’s a little more than an hour long.
We also hope the SVTA host more debates. They created a good format and did a nice job.