Candidate Harbir Bhatia Supported Multi-Candidate Districts in 2018, Now Campaigns Against It

By Robert Haugh

Last night, the League of Women Voters San Jose/Santa Clara hosted two City Council Candidate debates.

An interesting exchange happened when Councilwoman Kathy Watanabe and her challenger Harbir Bhatia discussed the California Voters Rights Act (CVRA) lawsuit against Santa Clara.

Bhatia said the City is wrong to oppose the lawsuit that forced the creation of six single-member districts in Santa Clara. 

Bhatia argues that six districts with a single member will help elect minority representatives to the City Council. That’s something the CVRA proponents support.

But wait.  

Two years ago, Bhatia supported creating two multi-member districts in Santa Clara. That’s something the CVRA proponents opposed.

We agreed with her back in 2018. It was the idea of a citizen’s charter review committee.

But Bhatia has flip flopped now that she’s running for office.

We haven’t. We still think multi-member districts are the best thing for Santa Clara. 

We thought the ballot arguments for Measure A in 2018 were pretty good.

In fact, Bhatia signed it. Watanabe held it up during the debate. You can read it for yourself:


  1. When did the ability to change your mind on a subject become a negative? In order to be a “flip-flopper”. wouldn’t there have to be a switch one direction (the flip), and then a switch back (the flop). It’s helpful I feel to the public when the correct terms are used in articles.

    “But Bhatia has flip flopped now that she’s running for office.”

    Is misleading and should be stated

    “But Bhatia has changed her mind now that she’s running for office.”

    An interview with her to find out why she has switched her position would also make this article to be more akin to news, and less related to a political hit piece.

  2. Thanks Burt for making it so clear for everyone. There’s a lot being said. If you know Suds, your comments were out of the park correct.

    • I see Kathy on Facebook/Nextdoor/Social Media everywhere helping the community and keeping them informed of what’s going on with businesses/the city/the stadium, especially during COVID. This was before she was even a council member. I am very appreciative to her for that. I did not know Harbir Bhatia before this election as she is not as active in the ways Kathy is, just during this campaign. I have only seen negative articles on her but deeper investigation does not make me think that it’s necessarily unwarranted. I’m concerned she won’t be active and accessible to us like Kathy is, so I will be voting for Kathy.

  3. Hello, I must be doing something right if I am getting so much attention on your blog. Looks like you guys are really getting scared by twisting and misrepresenting the truth with hopes to gain voters. See that way doesn’t really work. You guys need to try building bridges and positive relationships and be constructive with ideas and suggestions. The old ‘politics as usual’ is outdated :). It’s a drain on your time and resources, vs creating something good. Hey but thats my 2 cents.

    The city proposed measure A for RANK CHOICE VOTING and 2 Districts. Yes, I supported it based on the City’s recommendations from the charter review committee in early 2018.It was our attempt to improve the election model to be more fair. After it didn’t pass by the people’s vote in June 2018, I and others learned from that experience. There we shouldn’t have wasted any more time and resources on it. But then again later in 2018 Kathy and the other majority bloc let it go to court, and lost again. The judge’s 6 districts model proved to have worked Nov 2018. But still Kathy and the majority bloc fought to undo it with Measure C. It failed and they lost again March 2020. Still they continue to fight it with an appeal. Some people just don’t learn. It’s a huge waste of our resources, imagine the lost opportunity costs. But the truth, this is to ensure the majority bloc keeps control on the council. I strongly support the current model of 6 districts for now, and let’s see what the county proposes around Ranked Choice Voting in the future.

    Lesson of the story: use your own head, try, learn, and grow.. and also be truthful. Because then you have nothing to hide. Also every time we waste our times on such conversations and attempts we lose time on creating value in other places. It’s called lost opportunity cost. Like spending time on revitalizing our downtown, creating an area plan for northside santa clara (district 1), researching new revenue streams to prevent us from deficits (which started way back), creating more senior center in northside, ensuring our seniors have other community benefits and housing, etc.

    Feel feel to share more. Look forward to a robust discussion, and a learning opportunity.

    Thanks for the free publicity and opportunity to get the facts out there.

    • Harbir,

      I’ve written about you twice because I think the issues are relevant.

      I’ve lived in Santa Clara for years. So I care about candidates being honest about their positions. It’s significant if you change your position on something major after you decide to run for office. It’s also significant that you hide the fact that you worked for a developer for most of this year because you’re running for office. I think it’s my job to point that out.

      As anyone who reads this site knows, I like what’s happened in Santa Clara since Lisa Gillmor became mayor. She and the other Councilwomen have changed what was a clubby and in many ways corrupt City Hall run by Jamie Matthews. The Matthews-Fuentes regime was an old boys’ network. It was way too friendly to the 49ers and the Chamber. They looked the other way on financial stuff. That’s why we got into a hole in the Mission City.

      The women on Council are helping us climb out of the hole. But the 49ers want to stop that. So do some others. Mostly it’s people who were part of the old guard and got benefits like my former employer, the Weekly. It’s my job to call that out and I will.

  4. Harbir the Liar
    Last night during this forum so many lies were uttered from her mouth, ” I voted for the Gateway Project and got 15% affordable housing”
    Harbir when were you elected to council?
    You were condescending, self absorbed, claiming to the first before the city on CoVid programs.
    You, my dear are not a team player, nor do you understand policy making.
    You should have run for President.
    City Council is not for you!
    Kathy Watanabe is the only, respectable choice for District 1

  5. dumb comment, Suds.

    I voted for Measure J. I still think the stadium is good. I think the 49ers should pay their bills, too. Maybe if they didn’t purposely violate the curfew all would be good.

    It’s just ignorant to say the city should “talk” to the 49ers. That team had a sh###y relationship with SF for years. They don’t dialogue well.

    The city should do everything to enforce the law. Don’t pay rent. Send them a letter. Doesn’t work. Go to court. Treat the 49ers like a nightclub that doesn’t follow the law.

    Name one thing the city has done that they shouldn’t have.

    • Funny… I spent all the time to write up something that really tried to hit home. I tried to use compiling comments, and as it turns out, I could have just used your first line and saved myself 30 min of my life…
      So simple, but says so much.

      Dumb comment suds… I’m still laughing.
      Book smart, Hope you enjoy my comment as well.

      Burt Field

  6. I’m pretty sure Habir will do or say anything to get elected. Flip flopping is nothing. Being an officer in the disbanded Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce that inappropriated thousands and thousands of dollars of the cities money seems to get overlooked. Siding with the 49ers, supporting Lou Mariani against our neighborhood, and not reporting that she is a lobbyist for a local developer are things that story time with the children just can’t overcome.

    Kathy Watanabe has been a solid representative of the north side and been very available for all the residents. Kathy has been especially effective with the residents around the stadium that are impacted by the traffic and noise during stadium events.

    Reelect Kathy Watanabe for City Council District 1.

  7. Didn’t Mayor Gillmor and Kathy Watanabe campaign vigorously for Measure J to bring Levi’s Stadium to Santa Clara? Talk about flip flops! They claim that they changed their minds because of actions by the 49ers. Many of us including Councilmember Hardy opposed bringing the Stadium to Santa Clara because we worried about the finances, traffic, noise, etc. But now that the Stadium is here for 40 years, Karen Hardy is willing to talk with the 49ers to find win-win solutions and return some revenue to the City. I guess the dog ate Gillmor’s and Watanabe’s homework back in 2010.

    • Mr. Jain
      Because you are running for office, you should be embarrassed by what you have just wrote.

      I hope you don’t think this is too harsh, but up until I read this I had assumed you had at least average intelligence.

      The one difference between being stupid or ignorant is one of them is temporary. You have been around long enough to know that Jed York broke significant promises made to our City. You should have known better, so now at least I know you are not ignorant in this matter.

      Let me know if you need written proof of this, I am in possession of a list of promises made to us, signed on official 49er letter head by Jed York. I wouldn’t want you to think that Mayor Gillmor or City Council Person Kathy Watanabe, gave their support without promises made to them on how the North side of Santa Clara would be treated. As well as the long list of other benefits that our City would gain through supporting Measure J.

      Regardless of your decision, please include me (Burt Field) to your list of people who supported Measure J. I am a flip flopper as well… Yes I was ignorant, but……

      Burt Field

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