Eight Candidates Apply for City Council Vacancy

By Robert Haugh

On Monday, the City Council will interview eight candidates for the District 5 vacancy. Former Councilwoman Patty Mahan stepped down in January, citing serious medical issues creating the opening.

Eight candidates have put their names in for consideration. They will be interviewed Monday, March 9, at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Rob Avina


Deborah Cordova

San Mateo County Transit District Procurement Administrator

Mark Fertelmeister

NVIDIA Product Manager

Suds Jain


Andrew Knaack

Ronald McDonald House Associate Director

Brian Lowery

Acorn Computer Consulting Engineer

Keri Procunier McLain

KPM Associates CEO

Bob O’Keefe


A candidate will need the vote of 5 of 6 Councilmembers to be appointed, or the seat will remain vacant until the November 2020 election.

It’s an interesting list of candidates, including one person who was previously a City Councilmember. Procunier McLain served from 1992-96.

Jain has run for City Council before and applied for an appointment, too. He’s applying again, even though last month, he spoke out against having anyone appointed for this seat.

Here’s what we wrote about it on February 12:

Last night, Jain accused the Council of being racist in an angry statement. He said that he didn’t think he could get appointed even though he’s served on a lot of commissions.

But Councilmembers said Jain was “revising history,” and called him “offensive” and “shameful.”

Unfortunately for Jain, the criticism is right. We reported on the appointment vote on June 13, 2018. The Council voted for candidates in five rounds. Five times, the Council was willing to appoint candidates who were men and from minority groups, including Jain. Yup. 

Maybe Jain wants to be appointed so he can turn it down.



  1. Wow what is going on two members block the citizens of Santa Clara the chance to be considered, what has my city became. I really hated to leave my city two years ago as a third generation Santa Clara. Now as I fallow all that’s going on is sickens me to see what is becoming all to much the norm. Two council members won’t the the process happen in less their friend is appointed. Really ? Sounds like a couple of children taking their ball and going home when they don’t get their way. Hardy and Raj need to grow up and act like adults and give the citizens of the WHOLE city a chance to speek.

  2. If selection is based on factors other than “race or politics,” as suggested, then Suds Jain is the obvious choice. Comparing candidates, Suds is tops in educational accomplishment (BS, MSEE MIT); Civic Engagement and leadership (Many to note-Planning Commissioner Chair, Charter Review Committee Chair); Volunteerism (HSRobotics initiative, distinguished environmental and ecological scholar and activist) and thoughtful supporter of a reclaimed downtown while preserving the unique old quad.
    So, there it is. Suds is the top choice in all those (non-political, non-racial) criteria. Only if the process becomes politicized or racial, can anyone other than Suds be appointed. That’s clear.

  3. I hope the city council will put all their differences aside and do what is best for District 5. This should not be racial or political. I agree with Mary Grizzle, we need immediate representation.

  4. Don’t be concerned with all the people and activities going on in district 5. Just be concerned with your own inability to get elected. I can’t imagine that will change in November. Who will you blame then?

    District 5 Needs immediate representation, if it’s suitable for Suds or not.

  5. Suppose I voted for a parcel tax that benefited our schools and the bond measure failed. I guess Robert Haugh expects that I would voluntarily send in the extra money out of principle to help out the schools. I’m not dumb. I preferred to not have council appoint but since they voted for the appointment, of course I am applying. I spent a lot of my own money in the 2016 election to run for council because I refused to take a dime from the 49ers or any of their employees. Nor did I take money from labor, nor developers nor the Sierra Club after they endorsed me.

    Once again you have distorted the facts. Santa Clara News is a very biased opinion column, not a news outlet. I encourage everyone to watch the video of the council meeting and listen to my actual words. I was not being revisionist. Here are my actual words from the council meeting:
    I believe that Council appointments to council seats are in violation of the intent of the CVRA. I believe that Council appointments are a very easy way to maintain status quo which discriminates against minorities. There is no protection to prevent an all male council from appointing only men?

    The last time Council appointed someone to be a councilmember, that person went on to easily win the election for that same seat as an “appointed incumbent”. That person was white and the council remained all white despite a number of very qualified minority candidates. I fear that the same thing will happen again with an appointment for this seat which is why I oppose the process of appointing. Interestingly, this happened before we had district elections and that councilmember has consistently refused to meet with me despite many attempts to set up a meeting. It just goes to show how not being in the “in” crowd disadvantages new candidates. I fear I would have no chance to get appointed in this round despite having a record of being very engaged in the City as a planning commissioner, chair of the Charter Review Committee, BART Community Working Group member, El Camino Real Advisory Group, OQRA, and a member of the Chief of Police advisory committee.

    I applaud Patti Mahan and Pat Kolstad for their valiant efforts to block the council appointment for Dominic Caserta’s seat since I’m certain an appointment vote would have just put another of the council majority’s friends in the seat. I saw the appointment process as a sham since the candidate choices were essentially made even before the meeting started. I was surprised by how vengeful the council was when it voted to formally admonish councilmembers Mahan and Kolstad for their courageous votes. We all know that keeping the seat open allowed two awesome councilmembers to get elected in 2018 including a minority.

    As I have watched the council votes lately, most of them have been 4 to 3. Leaving the seat open won’t change the council outcomes and won’t make the council gridlocked.

    So I say leave the seat open and let the people really decide.

    — Suds Jain

  6. I guess Jain believes obnoxiously pushing your own climate change agenda on every aspect of city business is a vote getter. Calling people racist is easier than looking inside to see what other see.

Leave a Reply