Cupertino Courier

It's not too late to let voters pick the councilmem­bers


When it comes to filling the two vacancies on the San Jose City Council, it's never too late to do the right thing.

Councilmem­bers should switch gears and call special elections to fill the District 8 and 10 seats that were left vacant after the November elections.

They should abandon their plans to appoint replacemen­ts. Let the people living in the districts decide. It's the democratic way.

A new poll shows that San

Jose residents want the council to do just that. The Public Policy Poll of 500 residents citywide reveals 86% favor a special election to fill the two seats.

Instead, the council is moving forward with the plan adopted in December by the outgoing council to appoint the District 8 and 10 councilmem­bers for the next two years. Councilmem­bers will pick representa­tives for two districts where they don't even live rather than letting the residents there choose.

It enables a labor-leaning council majority to impose its will on two districts that are more politicall­y moderate.

The two seats were left vacant because of the election of District 10 Councilmem­ber Matt Mahan to be the city's new mayor and District 8 Councilmem­ber Sylvia Arenas to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisor­s.

District 8 covers East San Jose and the Evergreen area and District 10 encompasse­s the Almaden Valley and Blossom Hill communitie­s. They are two of the city's most politicall­y moderate districts. Both supported Mahan over his labor-backed opponent, Cindy Chavez, in the Nov. 8 election. But labor is keen to have two of its representa­tives fill the seats, solidifyin­g control of the council.

Last week, as the council moved forward with its undemocrat­ic appointmen­t process, it named 11 finalists for the two

seats. The five finalists in District 8 are Patricia Andrade, Salvador Alvarez, Sukhdev Bainiwal, Domingo

Candelas and Tam Truong. In District 10, the finalists are Ron Del Pozzo, Arjun Batra, George Casey, Wendi Mahaney-gurahoo, Dennis Hawkins and J. David Heindel.

Bainiwal's and Truong's background and experience

in the community make them the strongest candidates in District 8. Heindel is chair of the District 10 leadership coalition, making him the standout candidate for that district. Andrade in District 8 and Mahaneygur­ahoo

in District 10 both have strong ties to labor. But, again, this is a decision the voters should be making, not the council.

The last five times San Jose has had a council vacancy, dating back to 1995, voters picked the replacemen­t.

Councilmem­bers favoring appointing representa­tives argue that an election would cost the city as much as $11 million. But that represents a tiny fraction of the city's $6 billion budget. It's a small price to pay for advancing


The council should vote for a special election to fill the District 8 and 10 seats. The selections should be made by voters of those districts, not councilmem­bers with ulterior political agendas.

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