Special Sunday Edition: Short Answers to Your Top 10 Election Questions

By Robert Haugh

I’ve been asked a lot of questions about the election. So here are some brief answers to the top 10 questions I get.  Maybe it’ll help anyone who hasn’t filled out a ballot yet.

  1. Why is Jed York spending $3 million?

Interestingly, Jed York himself has never publicly said why. But he wants a friendlier City Council. That’s why he’s supporting Harbir Bhatia (District 1), Kevin Park (District 4), Suds Jain (District 5), and Anthony Becker (District 6). They’ve all said they’ll be friendlier to Jed than the current City Council.

  1. Why isn’t the current City Council friendly to Jed?

Maybe because his team has sued the City seven times. Maybe it’s because he broke his promise on soccer fields and tried to steal the Youth Soccer Park? Maybe it’s because the team has intentionally violated the curfew law and got caught violating stage wage laws?  But other than that, I don’t know.

  1. But the “Team Jed” candidates said they’ve never met him. What’s up with that?

This may be true. But they were recruited to run by 49ers exec Rahul Chandhok. That’s something we’ve written about in the past.

  1. Will Jed York’s spending backfire?

Maybe. Everyone in town is talking about Jed’s spending. The amount of money is so massive that he’s made himself and the money the issue, not the candidates. Becker even complained that his campaign got “hijacked” by Jed.

  1. Why is the Santa Clara Police Officers’ Association PAC spending over $100K to elect four candidates?

The POA PAC has a lot at stake, too. They teamed up with Santa Clara Firefighters to interview all the candidates. The two departments are a big part of the City’s budget. And their jobs have gotten harder during the pandemic. 

  1. Who are police and fire supporting?

The police and firefighters happen to like the incumbents: Kathy Watanabe (District 1) Teresa O’Neill (District 4). And two others: Bob O’Keefe (District 5) and Rob Mezzetti (District 6). They think they’ll continue to be supportive of their departments and the pandemic relief efforts.

  1. Some of Jed’s candidates say they don’t support changing the curfew. What’s the story?

They’ve all said that they will change the curfew law or be flexible about it. That’s what Jed York wants. That would mean more late-night concerts on the weekday. But that doesn’t mean more revenue for the City. The team won’t share financial info with the City. So no one knows if any concert will yield more revenue to the City,  including the “Team Jed” candidates.

  1. Is it true that the City Manager gets paid over $700K?

Yes, if you include all benefits. Deanna Santana is one of the highest paid City Managers in the state. But she’s also the stadium manager and not many cities have a stadium or a team as difficult to deal with as the 49ers. Santa Clara has always had highly paid city managers. Former Police Chief Mike Sellers was actually paid more than Santana before he retired.

  1. Is Harbir Bhatia being investigated for being a lobbyist?

Yes. She and her previous employer SiliconSage, a development company, are being investigated. Bhatia also did work for the massive Mariani development project that has drawn complaints from neighborhood residents that she lobbied for Mariani without registering as required.

10. Why Can’t Suds Jain vote on major downtown issues?

This is my district so this issue is important to me. Suds can’t vote on Santa Clara University issues because his wife works there. After she leaves the university, he’ll have to wait a year before he can vote. Suds can’t vote on downtown development issues because the FPPC ruled that he has a conflict. Suds says that will change because of a new formula. But that hasn’t happened. It’s disappointing that Suds isn’t being honest with voters right now.

Bonus Question: What’s the best campaign mailer or ad you’ve seen from either side?

Easy answer: the Jed York Boogie.


  1. Please don’t be fooled by the so-called “endorsements” out of Jed York’s “Astroturf” slush fund.

    Jed York’s attempt to buy an election in our city basically bought him a truckload of worthless bits of cardboard with a lot of lies on them. The stack of Jed’s trash that I just put in the recycling bin is about an inch thick.

    But not one penny of Jed’s cash flowed into the campaigns of Suds Jain (District 5) and Kevin Park (District 4) – and I think that, in the main, Santa Clarans know that perfectly well.

    On the “city’s side,” Kevin and Suds know Santa Clara’s city “pension bomb” for what it is (read Suds’ response in this same post), They’ve sat on the very Committees and Commissions that worked their best to make Santa Clara a better place in which to live.

    But they’re also more than qualified to represent us as Stadium Authority Directors.

    And believe you me, it’s this last part that’s got Jed York scared to death.

    Look back to the $4,000,000 catering bill that the Forty-whiners tried to slough off to our city’s General Fund, the Jim Mercurio scandals, the self-dealing and the concealment of financial transaction information our Stadium Authority is entitled to have, but which ManagementCo has hidden from us over and over again.

    Then ask yourself who better to scrutinize the actions of a so-called ‘business partner’ who’s done nothing but deal with our city in bad faith.

    Unquestionably, you need informed residents like Kevin Park and Suds Jain to give us just that oversight.

    Sure, just about everybody’s probably got their ballots in the mail – but if you still have yours on the kitchen table as I do, now’s the time.

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    Now’s the time to get back our Santa Clara, run by its residents and not by self-interests like the 49ers.
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  2. Suds is still taking his cues from Patty. J Byron Fleck is another loser Suds takes direction.

    When Suds loses this time, it’s different. With all his maligning and racial attacks on all the players working in and around City Hall, who will give him the time of day? When all said and done this might just leaves Suds playing with himself or his team of losers.

    • “Suds is still taking his cues from Patty”

      If you really think you can claim that Patricia Mahan is somehow pulling any strings here, I invite you to show your proof.

      “With all his maligning and racial attacks on all the players working in and around City Hall”

      Well…ditto. Prove it.

  3. Once again we have an incredibly biased piece by Robert Haugh. He says that I, Becker, Park and Bhatia were recruited by Rahul Chandhok. Given that I, Becker and Park have run for City Council in the past does it seem unlikely that we would run again, especially in an open seat election. Bob O’Keefe and Robert Mezzetti have never run for council before and the have not even served on any City commissions. Rather Lisa Gillmor has recruited people for years to run for City Council and like this time, she has heavily supported her candidates so she can maintain her lock on City Council. Just think about how many City Council candidates in the past have worked for the Gillmors. Even this time, Robert Mezzetti has worked for the Gillmor family. I’m glad that you talk about Mike Sellers total compensation. We have a $555 million dollar unfunded pension liability and our top management and top police and fire are paid more than San Jose’s top employees. That’s why POA has always spent so much money on our elections. POA is a special interest. Stop calling it Santa Clara “News”. Certainly not “fair and balanced”

    • Robert, I’m totally in agreement with the argument that we do not want any group, making SantaClara a company town(whether that is the 49ers or Big Developers). What I have said is that I wanted the money issue to be totally transparent and we now which groups are supporting each candidates. Since I live in District 6 I can only vote for one candidate, however if I could vote in other districts I would for Teresa O’Neil and Kathy Watanabe, both of whom I know and consider to be outstanding council members. As for District 6, my vote came down to Anthony Becker or Rob Mezzetti. I do not know Mr. Mezzetti at all, in my 50 years in SantaClara I do not believe that I have never seen him and cannot remember him at any volunteer events. Thus my vote is for Mr Becker I do not agree with all his points but I do know this, we need to get City spending under control, even before Covid hit Santa Clara was going to be in a 10 million dollar hole. I also think the City Council should not raise rates for water, garbage, or electrical rates in order to balance the budget. Maybe we should look at the salary of our City Manager, who makes more money in base pay than the President of the United States and all the Assistant City Managers hires who each got a $100,000 raise from their previous jobs before they even worked a day at the City of Santa Clara. Let’s try and get back to the SantaClara way where we have a tough and hearty discussion on issues but then come together in order to fix issues that benefit all citizens of SantaClara

      George Guerra

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