By Robert Haugh
We learned earlier this month that City Council District 5 candidate Suds Jain cannot vote on revitalizing downtown issues. His home is too close to downtown.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission, the state watchdog agency, told Jain in August it would be a conflict of interest.
That’s a big deal. A major issue for District 5 is the redevelopment of our downtown.
For years, a great community group, Reclaiming Our Downtown, has made this a priority.
But they were frustrated that former District 5 Councilwoman Patty Mahan had a conflict. She couldn’t represent them in her own district. Mahan’s home was also too close to downtown.
If Jain gets elected to the City Council, they’ll have the same problem.
Mary Grizzle, one of the founders of the downtown group, told San Jose Spotlight this when she heard about Jain’s downtown conflict:
“District 5 has been the unforgotten child — no more. I want somebody that has a voice and will be active in all of District 5. Everybody has their own district, everybody fights for their own district. We come in second place with all of the other councilmembers and I want to be first.”
Santa Clara University Conflict
Jain also has a conflict of interest on Santa Clara University (SCU) issues.
This is not widely known. Jain has not discussed it in his campaign, according to numerous people in the district and a review of his website.
But more than four years ago, Jain was told about his conflict by a city attorney at a Planning Commission meeting. That was July 27, 2016.
Jain is a Planning Commissioner. The issue was SCU’s 5-year master plan for expansion.
Jain asked: “Do I need to recuse myself? My wife works there (SCU).”
The answer was yes. Jain did not vote on the SCU master plan.
Here’s a link to the video. Jain asked his question around the 20:20 mark.
As we reported last year, SCU plans to expand its undergrads from around 5,500 to 6,000.
That means more students in Old Quad neighborhoods.
Council Race Impact
Jain’s conflict could be a major issue in the District 5 Council race.
The only other candidate, Bob O’Keefe, is a board member of the Old Quad Residents Association.
Last month, O’Keefe led the effort to get the Council to take a first step on relocating the downtown courthouse. That’s a major priority for Reclaiming Our Downtown.
O’Keefe’s home is not in the downtown area.
So, O’Keefe is the only candidate who is free of conflicts of interest and can legally vote on Reclaiming our Downtown and SCU neighborhood impacts.
Editor’s Note: My family and I live in District 5 and not too far from downtown.