By Robert Haugh
Our absentee ballots arrived last week and Santa Clarans are starting to vote. For over a week now, we’ve received mail for all the candidates.
But we’ve also seen TV ads and received annoying text messages thanks to Jed York’s massive $1.4 million spending campaign in four City Council races.
York is trying to take control of the City Council by electing Anthony Becker (District 6), Harbir Bhatia (District 1), Suds Jain (District 5) and Kevin Park (District 4).
York is opposing Rob Mezzetti (District 6), Bob O’Keefe (District 5), Councilwoman Teresa O’Neill (District 4) and Councilwoman Kathy Watanabe (District 1).
The Santa Clara Police Officers Association PAC has put up a website called JedYorkFacts.com that calls one group “Team Jed” and the other “Team Santa Clara.”
The POA PAC is supporting and spending money for “Team Santa Clara.” They’ve raised money from developers and their members.
The POA PAC has spent about $50,000 so far. That’s a fraction of York’s spending. The City’s website has charts that show the spending for all districts from all sources.
What we’re hearing from neighbors in District 5 is that they are turned off by York’s spending and attempt to control the City Council.
That feeling was echoed by Professor John Pelissero. He’s a Senior Scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.
In addition to ethics, Pelissero is a specialist in urban politics. Here’s what he emailed us:
“No doubt, many voters in Santa Clara will find both the level and scope of the 49ers involvement in the election to be troublesome. Corporations and sports franchise owners in other cities in the U.S. generally don’t attempt to make such a huge impact on city council races.
“The level of expenditures on city council elections by the group representing the team’s interests is significantly higher than such spending on city council seats in other U.S. cities. It would appear to be much higher than typical business spending on mayors’ races.”
Yesterday, “Team Jed” had a press conference. Becker did not attend. There was speculation that the candidates would do something newsworthy like telling York to stop spending money in Santa Clara.
But none of them said that York should stop spending money to support them or to oppose other candidates.
They all said they would be much more cooperative with the 49ers on stadium management issues.
They also said they all would change the curfew law to allow more stadium events. That’s something that’s been in place since the stadium opened. York has been pushing hard to change it.