By Robert Haugh
Last night, the Santa Clara City Council majority decided to move forward with an effort to eliminate the right of Mission City voters to elect the Police Chief and City Clerk.
The vote was split, 4-3.
Councilmembers Anthony Becker, Raj Chahal, Karen Hardy, and Suds Jain voted in the majority.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor, Councilmembers Kevin Park, and Kathy Watanabe voted against it.
The right of Santa Clarans to elect the Police Chief and the City Clerk is enshrined in the City Charter. So, it will have to be put on the ballot to change it.
First, the Council will appoint a 7-member Charter Review Commission that will make a recommendation in the Fall.
Then the Council must decide by November if they want to put it on the March 2024 ballot.
It’ll cost the City approximately $432,000 to do so. That doesn’t include City staff time. Wow.
The Council vote was divided. But the public who spoke on the issue was unanimously opposed.
Santa Clara Police Officer Association (POA) President Jeremy Schmidt shared with the Council a survey commissioned by the POA of Santa Clara voters.
According to the survey, 66 percent of voters didn’t know the Chief was elected. After they learned that information, 73 percent wanted to keep the right.
A few speakers raised the issue of the 49ers pushing the Council majority that they elected to remove the Police Chief so the team can lower its public safety cost. The 49ers are currently suing the City for that reason.
“Jed York wants to pick our Police Chief,” said community leader Debbie Tryforos.
A few speakers criticized Becker for aggressively pushing the issue when he is under criminal indictment for leaking a Grand Jury report and lying about it.
“Councilmember Becker has been indicted for giving confidential, sensitive, embargoed data to the 49er lobbyist,” said Santa Clara business leader Kirk Vartan.
“I mean it’s absurd. And this is the person that’s pushing [the proposal].
No members of the public spoke in favor of the proposal.
Editor’s Note: Other major issues from the Council meeting will be covered in the coming days. Stay tuned.