Santa Clara City Council Accepts Recommendation to Eliminate Santa Clara’s Elected Police Chief and City Clerk

By Robert Haugh

At last night’s City Council meeting, lots of serious questions were raised about the Charter Review Committee’s process and its survey that was manipulated by individuals or bots.

But the Santa Clara City Council decided to accept the Committee’s recommendation to eliminate the right of voters to elect our Police Chief and City Clerk on a 5-2 vote.

Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilmembers Anthony Becker, Raj Chahal, Karen Hardy, and Suds Jain accepted the recommendation.

Gillmor said she disagreed with the recommendation, but found the Committee’s work acceptable. She added to the motion a directive for City Staff to investigate who was responsible.

Councilmembers Kevin Park and Kathy Watanabe voted against the Committee’s recommendation.

Watanabe said the corrupted survey invalidated the Committee’s entire report. Park supported the recommendation but did not like the directive that City Staff investigate who tampered with the survey.

Many speakers spoke against the Committee’s recommendation.

One of the Committee members, Satish Chandra said the survey “shows someone gamed the system and leads to the lack of public trust.” He voted against the recommendation in the Committee.

He was also concerned that Committee members predetermined their decisions and there was a lack of open and honest discussion about options during Committee meetings.

Santa Clara Police Officers Association President Jeremy Schmidt complimented the Committee members but said that it was a “rushed, botched job” because of the survey tampering.

“We need to have new, legitimate process and not a rush to strip the voters’ rights,” he said.

“Somebody gamed the system to make it look like Santa Clarans support getting rid of the right to vote for our Police Chief and City Clerk — and we don’t,” said community leader Dana Caldwell.

“A Grand Jury report said the Council majority doesn’t act in the best interests of Santa Clara residents. Now, we have a Charter Review Committee survey that has been obviously manipulated.  We can’t restore public trust in Santa Clara unless we know the truth,” said Caldwell. 

On December 5, City Staff will agendize the decision of the City Council to put the issue on the ballot or not.

There will also be discussion about the accuracy and transparency of any ballot language.


  1. Buchser Alum – cool. 👍 Of course then my cynical side says the 49er Five will just try and buy the result they want in the election …

    • We shall see. I am personally in favor of changing the way we select our police chief at least so that it is not required that they be a resident of Santa Clara in order to be considered but I do also think that it would be better if the position were not elected.

      But if the Forty Niners spend big money to push for an end to election of our chief then I will assume that they have financial incentive to have a police chief friendly to them. If they spend some money but only small money then the reason might be that they are doing a favor to their council allies by reducing the political power of the police union.

  2. The 49ers lobbyists are Ellie Caple, Josh Stephens and Elijah Lefkow my friend who works for the Marriott mentioned their regular lobbying meetings with hotel general managers in Santa Clara

    They are also trying to seem as active members in our community but none of them live in our city of Santa Clara

  3. It would not be wise for the 49ers to put out ANY propaganda for this issue. While we all know they are behind this, any propaganda trying to influence this issue would just prove it.

  4. I’ve lived in Santa Clara for 24 years now. This city, and the city council, have become a bad joke.

    This issue should have been put to the voters for an official vote. Not an electronic survey which was obviously corrupted. Joke, joke, joke. Maybe we can choose a clown as the next city mascot.

    • Kevin,

      It will be put to a vote. The council did not decide to change from an election to appointment. They decided to go forward with putting the issue on the ballot so that the people of Santa Clara will be able to vote to keep choosing their police chief by election or to delegate the recommendation to the city manager and the city council to approve.

      The only way the people of Santa Clara will give up an elected police chief is if we vote to do this.

    • It’s wasting city money. The people have spoken over and over. Just stop the madness! Get rid of the 49er 5.

  5. The drug dealers already know it is a field day for selling at the other end of town on stadium event days. But you guessed it, the 49er management want more, more, more law enforcement resources.

  6. I watched part of the Commission recommendation meeting. Commission members, who are well meaning, civic minded, selected by city staff, members of the public, were visibly and vocally uncomfortable with both the survey and acting as rubber stamps for actions suggested by others. At least one Commission member asked whether it would be Ok to state their personal opinion at the upcoming Council meeting. Now the City will waste money for a special election and also money will pour in for idiotic misrepresentation of the situation. Way to go City! Also, the City is thinking about how to raise taxes as they are short. One needn’t wonder why that is the case … hmmm, Stadium not bringing in money, bogus special elections, etc.

    • The CRC committee members were selected by city council and mayor. Not city staff. Maybe that explains how this recommendation was made. Jeff Houston was Suds Jain’s campaign treasurer. You know there was a plan with 49er 5 choices. Shameful.

  7. Comments by the SCPOA representative is laughable, he had nothing intellectual left in the tank. “You all swore, I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States againt all enemies, foreign and domestic. I’m calling on you to honor that oath. Acting on this information [community survey] is dereliction of duty and a violation of your oath.” Charter amendments happen every year through this state and country. Putting a charter on a ballot is the purest sense of democracy, let’s registered citizens voice their opinion – one vote, one opinion.

    Someone at City Hall realized posting survey results while the survey was still open wasn’t best practice. When we watch national poll results on television, those numbers are reported after individual district polling has closed. This is done so that there isn’t undue influence on voters as they’re headed to the polls. The question asked shouldn’t be “why were results taken down from public view?” The question asked should be, “why were survey results put up for public view before the survey was complete?” And, of course, the City should look into securing responses before they use the same OpenGiv system in future community surveys.

    The 2022 SCPOA poll questions were skewed and the Community Survey was grossly manipulated. However, when you look at all of the academic items submitted for the CRC’s review and testimony given at CRC meetings, the CRC had plenty of validated information to make their decisions on and they were right to dismiss both the corrupted SCPOA poll and Community Survey. You guys should head over to the CRC web page and do the same before spouting off any more emotional diatribe.

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