Who I’m voting for…

As some of you know, I’m somewhat involved in the community around here. For likely the first time in my life I actually know everyone running for my local city council races ( and most of them folks in the school board races ).  Right off the top I’ll say that I think everyone running for city council is eminently qualified, and no matter who wins I think we’ll have good folks representing us.  So, in case anyone cares, here’s my thoughts on the races:

1. Mayor of Santa Clara: Jamie Matthews and Chris Stampolis

I’ve known Chris Stampolis for a number of years, originally through working together on the crew of Democratic TV and since then on a variety of activities because we both live in Santa Clara.  When I was interested in applying to the planning commission, I went and talked with him, since he’d been a planning commissioner, and he was very helpful.  Chris has a lot of connections, especially at the state and national level.

I don’t know Jamie Matthews anywhere near as well, but I have met him on a couple occasions and I’ve observed him on the city council since he was re-elected, and he’s certainly well informed on almost every issue.  He’s previously served 8 years on city council, and was elected about two years ago to his current seat, so if he’s elected then someone will be appointed to finish out his current term.  On most issues he’ll be where the majority of the city council has been for the past ten years or so.

Since the city has a city manager, the job of mayor is more to do a good job of running city council meetings ( and, it is a very difficult job to run a public meeting well ), participating in the community to bring lots of views out, making sure that everyone has an opportunity to be heard and represented, and holding the city staff accountable.

So, on this one I’m torn.  I think Jamie has more local experience, but he’s been a little more pro-stadium than I’d like (not that I’m anti-stadium, but I’d like the city council to drive as good a bargain as possible for the city, and so I’d like to think they’re always skeptical of both the pros and cons of the issue).  Chris is a friend, and I believe he could do the job well too.

2. City Council Seat 2: Mohammed Nadeem and Pat Kolstad

Right up front, I’ll say that I’ve endorsed Dr. Nadeem in this race.  I’ve known him for about two years, and he’s been involved with civic groups for much of the past decade.  He announced early this year that he wanted to run for this seat, and asked me for my endorsement, and I’m happy to provide it.  I think and hope that some of the goals he has — continued strong financial care, more of an emphasis on development along El Camino, and getting as good a deal from the SF 49ers as possible for the city — come to pass.

His opponent is Pat Kolstad, whom I also know somewhat in passing, but who also has a long history of service to the city.  In addition to serving many years in the Santa Clara police department and many local civic clubs and groups, he served as on the city council from 2000 to 2008.  Like Mr. Matthews, his views are largely aligned with the current council majority, and since leaving office Mr. Kolstad was also invoved with the stadium effort.  On the personal side, when I was applying to the planning commission I called all of the council members to tell them a bit about myself, and Mr Kolstad was very gracious and spent time listening to me and giving me some guidance.

3. City Council Seat 5: Teresa O’Neill and Patricia Mahan

I also know both Teresa O’Neill and Patricia Mahan fairly well.  I’ve served with Teresa on the planning commission for the past 3 year ( and, the first time I applied to the commission I lost out to her — and, as I’ve told many people, the council correctly picked the best applicant of the ten for the opening ).  Teresa has done a great job on the planning commission, and previously served eight years on the Santa Clara school board, as well as many other places.

I also deal with Patricia Mahan every month, on the architectural review process at city hall, where she chairs the meeting ( with myself and another planning commissioner ) that reviews many proposed changes by residents and developers.  She does a great job running these meeting ( and, having watched her at city council meetings, running them as well ) and I can only hope that I do half as good a job as chair of the planning commission as she can.  Ms. Mahan has been mayor for the past eight years, and was on the city council for the eight years before that, and so she’s quite well known and has a lot of experience.  It’s not my place to tell anyone what to do, but I think Mayor Mahan would be able to do great work at the county, or even state level if she were interested.

One theme you’ll notice is that although nobody is an incumbent here, pretty much every race is between a “recent incumbent” and someone who hasn’t previously held a city office.  Santa Clara has a two term limit for city council and mayor, but treats them as separate, so Mayor Mahan can run for a city council seat and council member Matthews can run for mayor.  I’m not a big fan of term limits, but do think that there is value in having a diversity of people and backgrounds.

So, having said all that, and that everyone is qualified, who am I voting for?  For mayor, I’ll likely vote for Chris Stampolis, although I’m still undecided, and I suspect that Jamie has a lot more support than Chris but I’m a bit unnerved by his running for city council two years ago and now jumping ship to run for mayor now. For seat 2, I’m going to vote for Dr. Nadeem, because I like his views and goals and think he’ll bring a different set of views to the council.  For seat 3, I’m going to vote for Teresa O’Neill, both because I think she’s very qualified and like her views, and because I’m a bit uncomfortable with the idea of any person staying in the same “place” for 20+ years.

This has already gotten rather long, so forgive me if I don’t go into as much detail on the school board races or propositions.  I’ll be voting for Pat Flot, who I met when we were both in the Santa Clara Leadership program together.  She’s smart and dedicated and has been doing a great job.  Proposition H, the parcel tax for the schools, deserves a yes vote.

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