By Robert Haugh
During the holidays, a major decision was made that went against the Mission City. Santa Clara lost the appeal of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) lawsuit.
In 2019, Judge Thomas Kuhnle determined that there was “racially polarized” voting in Santa Clara.
Most people in town were surprised by that. We live in a diverse community without segregated neighborhoods.
Kuhnle had to lower the standard threshold to come up with the conclusion that race plays a role with Santa Clara voters. That’s one of the reasons the City appealed the decision.
We’re glad the City did. Santa Clara voters are not racist voters.
But the Appeals Court sided with Kuhnle. So the question now is will the City appeal the decision.
We hope so. We think the City Council should defend Santa Clara voters despite how they feel about the CVRA.
Another problem with Kuhnle’s decision is that he also had to create six districts to get districts small enough for Asian candidates to win.
That means Santa Clara districts are small. Each Councilmember only represents about 20,000 people. If San Jose had the same size districts, they would have 50 council districts. Wow.
Small districts may help some people get elected. But it’s not necessarily good for Santa Clara. One active neighborhood group can have a lot of influence. They can now influence and pressure a council member on district decisions that might not be good for the City.
One person working on affordable housing told us there will be little affordable housing built in Santa Clara because of the smaller districts. That would be bad for the Mission City.
We think there are better solutions. We hope Mission City voters will eventually adopt ranked-choice voting with larger districts.
We also hope that third parties will abstain from spending millions to influence elections. We see how easy it is for the 49ers and Jed York to spend millions of dollars to own three Council seats.
That’s really not good for Santa Clara.