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“At A Crossroads” Santa Clara Mayoral Candidates Square Off

The battle over who would lead Santa Clara in the next four years seemed to boil over in Council Chambers on Sept. 29. It was not a normal City Council meeting but rather a forum featuring the two candidates for Santa Clara’s mayor – Council Member Anthony Becker and incumbent Mayor Lisa Gillmor.

A few dozen people attended the in-person forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of San Jose/Santa Clara and picked sides almost unconsciously. The room was divided much like a wedding with Gillmor supporters on one side of the aisle and Becker supporters on the other.

Even before the forum started, the tension in the room was palpable. The rules were simple, don’t talk about the opponent. Gillmor, for her part, was judicious in her word selection, staying just on the right side of the rules while still voicing criticism of her opponent.

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Becker was not so careful. Twice he was warned by the moderator. Finally, obviously frustrated, Becker interrupted the moderator and was met with a chorus of “boos” from Gillmor’s side of the aisle.

Supporters of Gillmor would later say they thought they heard Becker utter a cuss word. The recording of the meeting will tell you he did not.

While the candidates do not agree on much, they will both say this election will determine Santa Clara’s path for the future.

“Santa Clara is at a crossroads. We have a chance to get our city back on the right track. I need your help to build a better future. This race is about the heart and soul of our City,” said Becker in his opening statement.

“Today Santa Clara is at a crossroads. A nationally recognized ethics expert said that he sees quote, ‘The most egregious collapse of ethics of any institution I have worked with in three decades.’ unquote. More than ever, leadership matters, especially leadership that can’t be bought,” said Gillmor in her opening statement.

Future of Santa Clara

In his opening statement, Becker outlined his plan for the future of Santa Clara.

“My priorities as mayor is an ambitious plan called the Santa Clara New Deal which is building affordable housing for seniors, families and young people, rebuilding our downtown, reducing our deficit and housing the homelessness,” said Becker.

Gillmor talked about her work during the pandemic and what she accomplished in her first full term in office.

“In my first term, we increased our financial reserves by over $50 million. Today, we have safe neighborhoods and good parks. I’ll keep it that way,” said Gillmor.

The candidates’ visions for the future are very different.

“My priority is first to bring civility, trust and openness back to the City. That’s what’s been missing in the last two years,” said Gillmor. “Also, the public safety, putting public safety back to its fullest level. Our citizens tell me on a daily basis, they’re tired of their cars being broken into, their homes being broken into, other issues that we’ve never had to deal with in the past. And mainly because a lot of it is we’ve had the stadium debt, that has really not given the money to our general fund that we had expected. And so, I really want to clear that up and make sure that we can get the money that we need to provide basic City services to our community, and reopening our senior centers, our libraries, our community centers, and our recreational facilities.”

For Becker, the focus was making Santa Clara affordable, rebuilding downtown and balancing the budget.

“My top three priorities as part of my Santa Clara New Deal. And that is focusing on building the affordable housing for young people, families. Look at the cost of rent out there. I pay $2,800 a month. It’s hard to survive out here,” said Becker. “My next one is rebuilding our new downtown. That is the heart of a City. That’s been missing for years and decades. I’ve never gotten to see it…And lastly, the biggest priority is reducing our City’s deficit. Look at the deficit that we’re in right now. $27 million, because of mistakes made by leadership. It is time that we take accountability and reduce our deficit.”

As for the problems facing the City, Becker reiterated his focus on homelessness and affordable housing. He also pointed to “false accusations” and “false narratives” that misinform the public and the “toxic relationship” Santa Clara has with other cities. Becker believes one of the reasons Santa Clara is in a deficit is the top-heavy City salaries.

Meanwhile, Gillmor reiterated her concerns about members of the council meeting with a “special interest group” and giving that group “concessions” affecting the general fund. She says recovering from the loss of sales tax and hotel tax revenue during the pandemic hurt the City’s budget. And she said the City needs to bring back “trust and integrity” to the Council meetings.

Budget Deficit

Whoever becomes mayor will face a $27 million budget deficit. Both candidates were asked to explain the cause of the deficit and how they would deal with getting out of it.

Gillmor said the City’s reserves were depleted because of COVID, when sales tax and hotel tax revenue dropped dramatically. She said the lack of performance rent at Levi’s Stadium since 2017 has not helped the budget either and the rising cost of living has led to the increase in City salaries.

“We need to work proactively to get out of it with the combination of using our reserves, revenue solutions like the Related project, which, when it will be built will be bringing us between $19 and $25 million a year in for a general fund because the City owns the property and other revenue generating opportunities,” said Gillmor.

Becker said COVID is an easy scapegoat but the real problem is wasteful spending and mismanagement.

“This is more and if you go look even deeper, Related project, which also endorses my opponent, they paid $0 to our city. Zero,” said Becker. “At the same time, my opponent and her majority lost $6 million to the CVRA lawsuit. That is where our money went. And just remember, your taxpayer dollars are spent on this.”

In one of the only agreements of the forum, both candidates agreed that the deficit has hurt their ability to reopen the senior center, natatorium and expand library hours but it’s a top priority for both candidates in the coming term.

Role of the Mayor

While the issue of uniting a divided council was not broached, both candidates gave insight into what they saw as the role of the City’s mayor.

“The role of the mayor is the head of the political leadership of the City,” said Gillmor. “The person that should be setting the tone of the City; that should be bringing the City and the community together; that should show trust, transparency and openness in government.”

Becker agreed with Gillmor and expanded on the idea.

“The role of a mayor is basically we are a single vote. Just like the council member is one single vote,” said Becker. “It is a ceremonial role. They run the meetings just like how the Planning Commissioners run. So, the role of mayor is a ceremonial role and a leader of the City.”

Campaign Spending

Neither candidate was asked how they would work with the 49ers moving forward, though they were asked about PAC spending within the election.

“Well, it’s their constitutional right to do what they want. Until the United States Supreme Court overturns Citizens United, there’s nothing we can do,” said Becker. “At the same time, my opponent, and a current council member brought the stadium to the City of Santa Clara. We have never seen anything from any PACs or anything until her developers helped her, as well as the 49ers who spent $5 million in 2010 on Measure J. Remember, the mess was brought here. I didn’t bring it.”

“I think it’s up to the residents to see what’s going on,” said Gillmor. “For instance, the majority of the council agreed on a settlement agreement at the end of August. Two days later, the 49ers opened the PAC and put in hundreds of thousands of dollars to support candidates for office, including my opponent. So, I’m just saying that the residents are the people that need to turn down and really open your eyes and see what’s going.”

Other Discussion Items

Other questions appeared to be staged by members of the audience.

One question asked about workshops for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth at local libraries and whether or not parent consent should be required. Becker, who is openly gay, agreed that parent consent was necessary and encouraged parents to bring their kids to learn about the LGBTQ+ community. Gillmor was ready with a story about how she stood up for library staff against a parent angry about a pride display in the library.

Another question asked about the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force. Gillmor said she was proud to co-found the task force as the Black Lives Matter movement grew. Becker credited his opponent for founding the task force and said he’d like to see the task force grow and include more members of the community.

The moderator attempted to add levity to the forum several times, with quick questions that would ease the tension in the room.

When asked where would you take a friend if they had one day in Santa Clara, Becker said, “I’d say that the biggest one would be Great America. We got to use it while we still have it. That has been an icon for our community for decades and it’s been an icon from my childhood as well. I think that’s our biggest asset, as well as our beautiful city streets.”

“First of all, I would take them to our parks, and then I’m going to take them to all the wonderful eating places we have in the City and we would just eat our way across Santa Clara,” said Gillmor.

As for favorite food, Gillmor said “Linguica sandwiches at the Art & Wine Festival. I love them.”

“I have Italian German, Portuguese, and Hawaiian blood in me. I love Italian food and I think my waistline proves that,” said Becker.

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33 Comments
  1. Buchser Alum 2 months ago
    Reply

    Thank you Erika for the good account of the debate. I was expecting a highly partisan account typical for most coverage on this site but yours felt balanced in how you mostly let the candidates speak for themselves through direct quotations.

    There is not enough major press coverage of Santa Clara politics and we all rely on local outlets like the SV Voice and others. And the most informative coverage is coverage that is meant to inform instead of persuade.

    • Erika Towne 2 months ago
      Reply

      Thank you and thank you for reading. I wanted to make sure that people can make their own decision on who to vote for based on their opinions of what the candidates said. Please check back soon for an account of the District 2 and District 3 forums.

      • Laurence Lu 2 months ago
        Reply

        I came here to echo the comments of others. I currently visit San Jose Spotlight for most of my Santa Clara news because I don’t trust either Bob Haugh’s blog or SV Voice to give me an unbiased account of what’s going on in this city.

        But this article was a very welcome departure from that, and if more coverage like this is to come, I’ll make this site my primary destination. It’s nice to have a news outlet dedicated exclusively to my city that I can count on.

        • Buchser Alum 2 months ago
          Reply

          Laurence,

          You cannot trust San Jose Spotlight either. All of their coverage of Santa Clara politics has been like a lot of what you see here on SVVoice. Partisan against Mayor Gillmor and for Councilman Becker and the coalition on the council that he votes with and who have endorsed him. It is such a strong bias that I wonder if the Yorks have made big donations to them or if their leadership has a personal grudge against Mayor Gillmor.

          I hope the unbiased reportage of this piece is indicative of how Erika will be reporting and I look forward to her recaps of the councilperson debates.

          • Davy L: 2 months ago

            Laurence,
            You cannot trust “Buchser Alum” either, and whatever else he may write. Everything wrong that happens in the world, the nation, and our city is due to that evil boogieman: the 49ers. Also, please disregard the person hiding behind the curtain: Lisa Gillmor.

          • Buchser Alum 2 months ago

            Davy,

            You wrote: “Everything wrong that happens in the world, the nation, and our city is due to that evil boogieman: the 49ers.”

            That’s your fabrication, not mine.

            So far, I blame the 49ers for managing the stadium so poorly that the city has not gotten any revenues from non football operations for over five years. I blame them for not being transparent about stadium finances so that the people of Santa Clara can adequately evaluate their performance.

            I blame them for financing Santa Clara elections with outrageous amounts of money. And creating suspicion of the motives and judgement of the city council people they have paid to get elected.

            Santa Clara city council candidates are not supposed to spend even $20,000 dollars. But the 49ers are spending over $700,000 on the elections of Anthony Becker and Raj Chahal and Karen Hardy. Why? Why is it worth so much to the 49ers that Becker become mayor and the other two stay on council?

            Could it be that they all voted to accept the 49ers settlement offer to end litigation over stadium management? Along with Jain and Park? Was that actually a good deal for the people of Santa Clara?

            We do not know because the merits of the settlement offer have not been discussed publicly. There has been no public justification for not continuing litigation which probably would have gotten the city a better settlement or more revenue.

            The amount that they have spent on getting their hand picked choices elected suggests that the people of Santa Clara could have gotten millions of dollars more.

            But the 49ers are not to blame for most of our problems. They are not to blame for our lack of a real downtown. They are not to blame for homelessness. They are not to blame for the drought. They are not to blame for many things.

          • Davy L 2 months ago

            Come on, stop being so stupid. You’re the dummy that blames all of our city’s problems on the 49ers. Blah, blah, blab, blab, it’s the fault of the 49ers, etc. Please stop playing the part of “Chicken Little”.
            Sorry, but you’re also wrong as far as the management for non-football stadium events. This task is handled jointly by both the city and the 49ers. As you are aware, over Lisa Gillmor’s strong objections, the lawsuits have all been amiability settled and revenues are now once again being shared by both sides. Unfortunately and needlessly, this is only after Lisa spending several millions of our tax-payers dollars.
            I believe folks can spend their money as they wish. It’s a “free’ country. If there’s a $20,000 limit, Gillmor’s Related Companies is also guilty, since they donated $100,000 to her campaign.
            As for the 49ers settlement agreement, a copy has been provided to the Media and the public. The merits and approval of the agreement was decided upon by our elected representatives and the 49ers.
            However, I am glad to hear you have decided not yet at least to blame the 49ers on the “drought” or “homelessness” or the “real downtown”. By the way, are you related to “SVV owned by 49ers” or “Sam Yodel”? You have their same mentality and write very much like them.

          • Buchser Alum 2 months ago

            Davy,

            You wrote: “You’re the dummy that blames all of our city’s problems on the 49ers.”

            No I just gave you a list of city issues that have nothing to do with the Forty Niners. If you want to have a civilized discussion of issues facing our city then you need to stop making up straw men by putting words into the mouths of people you disagree with.

            Engage on the actual points that I have actually made not what you have invented.

            You wrote: “Unfortunately and needlessly, this is only after Lisa spending several millions of our tax-payers dollars.”

            Fortunately and for clear need Lisa Gillmor directed the city to pay to legally defend the Forty Niners challenge to her refusal to lower their rent and in arbitration Santa Clara not only won refusal of the Forty Niners rent reduction demand but a rent increase.

            Santa Clara will get more than $150 million dollars over the life of the lease.

            Maybe it was for the best to settle with the Forty Niners over the management issue but
            the Forty Niners were clearly blustering about their “best and final” offer and we could
            have done better if the five councilpeople did not take the Forty Niners first offer.

            You wrote: “the lawsuits have all been amiability settled and revenues are now once
            again being shared by both sides”

            The settlement did not result in revenues “again being shared by both sides.” Non
            football revenue was already supposed to be shared by both sides. There was no revenue to be shared going back years. Forty Niners management of the stadium resulted in no
            revenue for non football operations. After having been caught trying to move football
            expenses to the non football side of the ledger. And not being transparent with stadium
            accounting records.

            You wrote: “I believe folks can spend their money as they wish. It’s a “free’ country.”

            So you do not disagree with anything that is done within the law?

            That is not true.

            We are not debating the legality of the Forty Niners election spending in Santa Clara. We are talking about the obvious financial incentive the Forty Niners have in spending
            millions of dollars to load the city council with people who vote their way.

            You wrote: “If there’s a $20,000 limit, Gillmor’s Related Companies is also guilty, since they donated $100,000 to her campaign.”

            Yes I agree. I have questions about why Related thinks it is worth spending such a huge
            amount of money to keep Gillmor as mayor instead of Becker.

            And I have even bigger questions about the big multiple of hundreds of thousands the
            Forty Niners are spending on Becker and Chahal and Hardy.

            You wrote: “As for the 49ers settlement agreement, a copy has been provided to the
            Media and the public. The merits and approval of the agreement was decided upon by
            our elected representatives and the 49ers.”

            What I want to see is not just the settlement agreement but discussion by the council on
            their reasons for voting for or against the settlement. I understand why this could not be
            made public before making the decision but it needed to be discussed immediately after
            the agreement was made binding.

            For the sake of transparency because the Forty Niners have spent millions of dollars
            supporting the council members who voted for the settlement. And almost immediately
            after the settlement was approved they spent over $700 thousand dollars on the current
            campaigns of Becker and Chahal and Hardy.

            The money is staggering and raises huge questions about certain council members acting
            in ways that will more than make up for the money the Forty Niners spent on them.

            The burden is on these council members to show that they served Santa Clara’s interests.

            They have not done so yet.

            You wrote: “By the way, are you related to “SVV owned by 49ers” or “Sam Yodel”?”

            No. You should stop fantasizing about made up things and just discuss what is at hand.

          • Davy L 2 months ago

            Not certain where you get the $150 million dollars figure. That’s just make believe. Not certain about your claims regarding a Lisa arbitration deal. The 49ers never requested a “rent” reduction. More make believe. I disagree that no revenue sharing was done going back years or that the 49ers had attempted to move football expenses to non football ledgers. More make believe. I do know the lawsuits were settled and signed by both our City and the 49ers, over Lisa Gillmor’s objection. I do know the lawsuit had been costing our city over a million a year for lawyer fees. As for more information regarding the settlement, I suggest you contact our Mayor or your elected Council Member. What District do you reside in?

            As for Campaign spending, no laws were broken. Just look-up “Citizens United Ruling” on your web-site. There is no burden on Becker and Chahal and Hardy. They just have to inform their voters, give their reasons why they are running, and why they deserve their votes. If their voters agree, they will be elected.

          • Buchser Alum 2 months ago

            Davy,

            You wrote: “Not certain where you get the $150 million dollars figure. That’s just make believe. Not certain about your claims regarding a Lisa arbitration deal. The 49ers never requested a “rent” reduction. More make believe.”

            It is surprising to me that you are not familiar with all of this. The Forty Niners asked for a rent reduction. The city refused. Gillmor and others defended our interest and refused to make concessions and instead pushed to go to arbitration.

            SVVoice.com reported on this prior to the arbitration and were critical of Gillmor and other allies on the council. Arguing they “refuse to acknowledge the contract’s terms or accept the financial model.”

            https://www.svvoice.com/49ers-take-stadium-rent-dispute-to-arbitration/

            But thankfully the SVVoice.com does not decide legal strategy for the city because the arbitrator not only refused the Forty Niners demand for a reduction in rent she granted a rent increase.

            The net effect was recognition of more than $4.5 million dollars more in rent per year. Multiplied across the life of the lease the amount this action gained the city will end up being over $180 million dollars.

            So my $150 million dollar figure was actually a gross underestimation.

            That is almost a fifth of a billion dollars over the current lease. How can you dismiss this as “make believe”?

            https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/08/14/arbitration-agreement-between-49ers-and-santa-clara-reveals-dispute-over-stadium-revenue/

            https://www.santaclaraca.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=61014

            —–

            You wrote: “As for more information regarding the settlement, I suggest you contact our Mayor or your elected Council Member.”

            You previously wrote: “As for the 49ers settlement agreement, a copy has been provided to the Media and the public.”

            That was untrue when you wrote this and when I asked for a link. It was just uploaded on to the city website today.

            https://www.santaclaraca.gov/our-city/santa-clara-stadium-authority-litigation

            What was also decided upon last night was to not have a public discussion about why it was voted to accept the settlement offer.

            It appears that it will not be until well after the election that we will get answers about why Becker, Chahal and Hardy voted for this settlement with the Forty Niners.

            Hopefully we will also get answers about why the Forty Niners are spending $700,000 to elect Becker mayor and reelect Chahal and Hardy to council. Maybe we will also get answers about what these three have been discussing in private with the Forty Niners along with Jain and Park.

            But never with more than three of them in the same room at the same time. Because then the law would require their private meetings with the Forty Niners to be public.

            —–

            You wrote: “As for Campaign spending, no laws were broken.”

            You are stating the obvious and the irrelevant. Something being legal does not make it right.

            And it is wrong for the Forty Niners to appear to be buying elections in Santa Clara. Spending a completely outrageous and unprecedented amount of millions of dollars in support of specific candidates who have consistently voted in favor of what the Forty Niners want.

            I believe it is possible these votes were made in good faith by at least some of the council. But none of them has sufficiently explained their votes. Just general remarks about the cost of litigation and moving forward.

            But as I have explained to you the cost of litigation can be an investment in winning much larger amounts that our city should have gotten in the first place. Such as when we invested in legal fees to get over $180,000,000 dollars over the life of the lease. And also recovery of our legal fees.

          • Davy L 2 months ago

            I assume you live near Buchser Middle School. That would imply you are a resident of District 5. Is that right? So, your Council Member is Sudhanshu “Suds” Jain. He is the person you need to contact who will answer your questions and provide all the information you seek regarding the 49ers settlement. Jain should also clear up all the “fake” news you have been sprouting forth.
            Office email: mayorandcouncil@santaclaraca.gov
            Direct email: sjain@santaclaraca.gov
            Telephone (office): (408)615-2250
            As for the campaign spending, this is a “free” country, and folks can spend as they please. The money the 49ers are spending is a mere pittance compared to funds other companies and corporations are spending to support their issues and candidates.

          • Buchser Alum 2 months ago

            Davy,

            You wrote: “He is the person you need to contact who will answer your questions and provide all the information you seek regarding the 49ers settlement.”

            I don’t want to have a private conversation with him or any one of his allies on council. I want them all to discuss this publicly to explain publicly as a group why they voted for it.

            And also why they have been meeting in private without public record with the Forty Niners. Private as in there is no public record or public witness. Not non public like closed council session are but still with public witnesses.

            —–

            You wrote: “Jain should also clear up all the “fake” news you have been sprouting forth.”

            You first labeled the $180,000,000 arbitration win against the Forty Niners “make believe” and now it is “fake news” to you?

            Are you interested in discussing reality or is your only goal to try to attack Gillmor?

            —–

            You wrote: “As for the campaign spending, this is a “free” country, and folks can spend as they please.”

            And when they spend massive unprecedented amounts of money for small city elections that usually cost twenty five times less people can and should question the motives of the spenders as they please.

            People can and should question the tie between the massive spending and the decisions of the politicians the spending got into office.

            You can keep repeating your “but it is not illegal” line of reasoning but principled people do not justify actions based only on legality. Slavery was once legal and did not become ethically wrong only when it was made illegal.

            If you held Lisa Gillmor to the same standard then you seemingly would not have any criticism for her. Or Santana.

            But you do not. You cannot defend the massive and unprecedented influence of Forty Niner money and so you have given up trying to defend it. You just keep repeating “it’s not illegal.”

            Do you care about the welfare of the city or do you just want to get Gillmor out of office? You started off by falsely accusing me of thinking all of our problems are due to the Forty Niners. I have never been so extreme and have even talked about some of the many problems we face that have nothing to do with the Forty Niners and some of the issues I disagree with Gillmor on.

            But you seem resolved to say nothing about Gillmor unless it is negative, say nothing negative about the Forty Niners, and say nothing negative about Becker and his allies on council.

            While also trying to pretend public facts like the $180,000,000 arbitration win against the Forty Niners is “fake news.”

            There is a very famous and reviled national politician who talks like that. You should not emulate him.

          • Davy L 2 months ago

            You said you want them to discuss this and that, etc, etc. No one has to listen to your foolish complaints. You claim to be “principled”, but you make lots of false accusations. The 49ers need no defense. I have my views on this coming election, and wish to express them just as you do. Obviously we do not agree. Well, November arriving soon, and I believe we shall be welcoming Becker as our new Major.

          • Buchser Alum 2 months ago

            Davy,

            Yes we do not agree and this is fine. I wish that you could be more civil in discussing the politics of our city as it sounds like you too care a great deal about it. When push comes to shove we are not enemies and share the same goal.

            Part of working together as citizens to push our elected officials to the same goal of benefitting our city is speaking to each other civilly and not making personal attacks. Especially ones that are total fabrications.

            I have taken time and care to lay out my concerns and it is just not right to dismiss them as “foolish complaints.” And every negative thing I have said has been explained and backed up. Some of it is opinion or speculation and not evidenced and in those cases they are stated as opinion. As such I have not made “false accusations.”

            And contrary to what you wrote earlier I do not think “Everything wrong that happens in the world, the nation, and our city is due to that evil boogieman: the 49ers.” You went on to repeat that baseless accusation even though I explained to you how wrong you were to make it.

            You have never acknowledged the wrongness of that accusation just as you have not acknowledged any of the valid concerns I have raised. The opposite is not true of how I have treated the concerns you have raised. I have acknowledged when I agree with you or when you have a point. But you do not return that or any courtesy.

          • Davy L 2 months ago

            Miles Barber:
            “Gillmor’s guillotine has decimated organizations, departments, key staff and budgets. Any organization or staff member in existence that she imagined might threaten or challenge her reelection was subdued, emasculated or eliminated. …. Forget about the long-term, trusted employees of yesteryear, the booming budget the City once had when she was first elected, the disrepair of City properties, the multiple lawsuits Gillmor has caused and created. When you think about the accomplishments of Mayor Lisa Gillmor, what has she really done for you and the City of Santa Clara?”
            Well, one thing she will be accomplishing soon is relinquishing her title of Mayor and bestowing it to Becker.

          • BuchserAlum 2 months ago

            Davy,

            As I said in the other conversation we are having there is no point to quoting Miles Barber’s loose statement of opinions on Santa Clara politics any more than there is point to quoting Robert Haugh’s loose statement of opinions on Santa Clara politics. I find little value in their subjective opinions.

            Especially when trying to pretend as if the City of Santa Clara is driven by any mayor. We have a weak mayor system and it is the city council that controls the city along with the city manager who is hired and fired by the city council.

            The last two years were shaped by the Becker, Chahal, Hardy, Jain, Park majority. If you are upset with how the city has been run the last two years your quarrel is with them.

            Gillmor and Watanabe literally do not have the power to stand up to the five of them.

            But even as a figurehead I do not want Becker. He is not up to the job.

            I especially do not want him to become mayor and the council able to appoint a rubber stamp replacement for him and create an even stronger 6-1 council majority.

            At least with the current makeup of the mayor and council there is some chance of there being multiple opinions being heard.

          • Davy L 2 months ago

            Sorry, but I do not agree with you. All of our Council Members (except Watanabe) have spoken very well of him and support his candidacy. They know him much better than you do. These past two years, our city has accomplished many highlights. I would like to have them continued. However, many of these were opposed by Gillmor. With a New Mayor, I feel our coming years will be even better.

    • District 6 Resident 2 months ago
      Reply

      100% agreed. This is a well written informative news article that truly serves the intended readers. Like Buchser Alum said, more of this is needed, especially from our local outlets. Thank you Erika.

      I was becoming frustrated with the consistent and clearly partisan tone of city politics reporting with SV Voice, almost had put it in the same category (opposite bias) with Robert Haugh’s Santa Clara News Online, just with a significantly better website:). I wish there was a PAC that would send a flyer out to all the residents with this article on it…probably the most factual information anyone would see before the election.

      • Davy L 2 months ago
        Reply

        I agree that this article is well written. However, to claim that this article contains “the most factual information” is a fake, an outright lie, and falsehood. What it actually mostly contains are merely opinions and statements and future farfetched promises from two competitors. There are very few facts but a lot of hot air and smoke and mirrors. But then, so are most of your earlier comments.

    • Davy L 2 months ago
      Reply

      Actions speak louder than words. Our city completed five very important major accomplishments these past two years:
      Item (1): The Six District Election System is now part of our City Charter.
      Item (2): Our City Council better represents our community and diversity.
      Item (3): Our city terminated the employment of Brian Doyle.
      Item (4): Our city terminated the employment of Deanna Santana.
      Item (5): Our city concluded a final settlement of 49ers lawsuits.
      Yet, surprisingly, none of these accomplishments were discussed or even mentioned in the forum. Why?
      Becker help fight for these accomplishments, while Lisa Gillmor strongly fought against each and every one, even at the cost and wasting of millions and millions of city dollars.
      Another minor point: At one time, our City Convention Center was an asset, bringing additional of extra dollars to our city. However, a few years ago, Lisa and Santana, decided to replace the old management with a new team of their “cronies”. Today, the City Convention Center sits vacant, empty, and unused. In fact, it’s now costing the city money, since even though unused, there are still continuous maintenance costs to be paid.
      One last word: Lisa, as you leave, please don’t “slam” the door.

  2. Davy L 2 months ago
    Reply

    Surprising that Becker held up well in this forum, considering the experience Lisa has over him. Blaming COVID is too easy, as is the rising cost of living. All these have also affected our neighboring cities and communities, however, they all appear to perform much better ending up with surpluses rather than deficits. I believe a great deal of our financial problems can be placed firmly on the shoulders of Deanna Santana and Brian Doyle. The fight against our current six District voters system, was also extremely wasteful, misguided, and costly. We have a much better representative City Council now. The problem with Lisa is that she fought against these changes and was a strong supporter of both Santana and Doyle. If Lisa had it her way, she would convert us back to the old days of having city-wide elections. That is the reason why I believe she should be replaced.

    • Buchser Alum 2 months ago
      Reply

      We all know that Mayor Gillmor was against the district elections because that would make it easier for the Forty Niners to buy council seats.

      When people accuse her of being against “diversity” and “voting rights” that is obviously deceptive. I would bet that Mayor Gillmor would be very happy for district elections if the Forty Niners kept their money out of our elections.

      And Becker did not hold up well in the forum. He was not as bad as I expected him to be but he was not good at all.

      Blaming Mayor Gillmor for the budget deficit is too easy. He blames her for the deficit but has never said how he would reverse it. He has never said how he could have prevented it as mayor. He cannot do this because like he said the position of mayor is ceremonial and only has as much power as a councilperson. But for the past two years it is he and his allies on the council who have had a strong majority on the council.

      So if anyone is to blame for the deficit it is Becker and his allies on the council. They have been running the city for the past two years.

      But the fact is that the deficit is due to COVID. The deficit is the loss of tax revenue. And increasing taxes on businesses is not a real solution.

      • Davy L 2 months ago
        Reply

        You are wrong as usual — the District Elections have nothing to do with the 49ers. It was brought up because our City Council was not representative of our city’s community. Lisa fought against this measure because she fear losing control of her Council cronies, since many of them live in the same area of the city as she does. As for “diversity”, please recall she and Watanabe would not allow Council Member Park, to speak at a Public Diversity Meeting, for which she was later formally reprimanded.
        As I mentioned earlier, our budget problems are more due to Deanna Santana and Brian Doyle, rather than to COVID or the 49ers. In addition to being vastly overpaid, Santana was a poor city manager. So, I would only indirectly place the blame for our city budget problems on Lisa, simply because she chooses and supported both Santana and Doyle.
        As for the past two years, we have seen a great number of changes for the better. The six District Elections was passed. We have a City Council that is truly diversified. We have a new City Manager and a new City Attorney.
        I view this election as not so much Lisa Gillmor vs. Anthony Becker. I view this election more as Lisa Gillmor vs. her replacement. Although as expected, Lisa perform better than Becker in this forum, in no way does she convince me, she deserves another term as our mayor. Our city has suffered through a very bad terrible and costly 6 years; enough is enough. With Lisa gone, our city can look forward to a much brighter future.

        • Buchser Alum 2 months ago
          Reply

          Davy,

          You wrote: “the District Elections have nothing to do with the 49ers.”

          Everybody knows the 49ers spent millions of dollars to get district elections. And everybody knows that the 49ers do not care about racial diversity on the Santa Clara city council.

          But I believe that the city council should be voted in districts and that is how I voted.

          I also agree that it seemed we paid too much to Santana and her deputies. But I do not agree we needed to fire her and pay her severance while paying for her replacement.

          Firing her and double paying for city manager seemed to be what the 49ers wanted. Since some of our council people had private meetings with the 49ers about Santana, but without any public records or public discussion of what they discussed or agreed to with the 49ers.

          I am no cheerleader for Lisa Gillmor. I have no issue with someone better becoming mayor but Anthony Becker is most certainly not that someone. His performance in the debate showed him to be exactly what he is: young and not even experienced or accomplished for his age, someone who appears to do the 49ers bidding without explanation.

          And someone whose combative and petty personality would be an embarrassment to our city in serving the ceremonial role of mayor.

          • Davy L 2 months ago

            Where the heck have you been hiding these last few years? Have you just come out from a cave? The District Elections have absolutely nothing to do with the 49ers. They were not involved at all. They did not spend one single cent. As for your “Everybody knows”, you are the only dummy saying this. The District Elections came to be due to a lawsuit filed by several of our citizens because they felt the minorities in our city were not being properly represented in the City Council due to the city-wide elections. Lisa Gillmor and her old City Council Members fought strongly against this lawsuit. They placed several city-wide ballots attempting to prevail against the lawsuit. They failed. The judge ruled the voters be given a choice. Our voters passed the District Elections overwhelmingly. Summation: Gillmor’s stupid behavior cost our city well over 6 million dollars in plaintiff, lawyers, and court fees.
            —-
            Likewise, the 49ers had nothing to do with Santana’s firing. She was Lisa Gillmor’s lackey. Unfortunately, she was not a good manager, and was overpaid besides. As for her severance pay, this was an arraignment made specifically for her by Lisa Gillmor.
            —-
            Incidentally, this was not a “debate” but a “forum”. In a debate, Becker would have “won” and beaten Lisa badly. All he would say: During the past two years, our city completed five very important major accomplishments: The Six District Election System, Our City Council better representation, Terminating the employment of Brian Doyle, Terminating the employment of Deanna Santana, Concluded a final settlement of 49ers lawsuits. Yet, you strongly opposed each of them, often at the cost of millions and millions of city dollars. Please explain why?
            —-
            It’s past time for Lisa to leave, and for our City to experience a brighter and better future.

          • Buchser Alum 2 months ago

            Davy,

            You wrote: “Where the heck have you been hiding these last few years? Have you just come out from a cave?”

            Why are you so incapable of having a civil debate?

            You wrote: “The District Elections have absolutely nothing to do with the 49ers. They were not involved at all. They did not spend one single cent.”

            The Forty Niners spent a ton of money on funding the campaign against Measure C as
            part of their 2020 election spending of millions of dollars to also get Becker and Jain and Park elected.

            I voted against Measure C. It is best for us to have the six districts and voting for council members by those districts. I know the history of the lawsuit and the judgement by Kuhnle in state superior court. And I disagreed with Gillmor opposing six districts. I also know that she opposed this due to understanding that splitting into six districts would make it easier and cheaper for the Forty Niners to buy council seats.

            And I am under no illusion that the Forty Niners care about racial diversity on our council or about voting rights.

            They care about making their massive election spending as impactful as possible.

            You wrote: “Summation: Gillmor’s stupid behavior cost our city well over 6 million dollars in plaintiff, lawyers, and court fees.”

            When we spent money on legal fees to fight the Forty Niners rent decrease demand and this ended up netting us over $150 million in rent over the life of the lease did you ignore all that and focus on the cost of defending our interests?

            If you do not like the net effect of the settlement then maybe you should not support the council in voting to settle so quickly and for so little.

            You wrote: “Likewise, the 49ers had nothing to do with Santana’s firing. She was Lisa Gillmor’s lackey.”

            She was Gillmor’s ally. She cannot be Gillmor’s lackey because Gillmor only has one vote on the council and the city manager answers to the council.

            And the city councilpeople who voted to fire Santana were the same councilpeople that the Forty Niners have spent millions of dollars getting elected and keeping in office.

            Coincidence?

            Santana was an ally to Gillmor holding the Forty Niners accountable and maintaining litigation that would get us transparency into stadium finances and our full share of revenue.

            Coincidence?

            She may have been overpaid but you and I both know that if Santana supported the Forty Niners and was against the litigation the Forty Niners would not care how much she is paid. And maybe the council majority would not care either.

          • Davy L 2 months ago

            As usual you are wrong. Measure “C” was put up by Lisa Gillmor as an attempt to subvert the CVRA ( California Voting Rights Act) lawsuit. The 49ers were not involved. The 6 million dollars was paid by our City to the plaintiffs and their lawyers who “won” their case. It was so “stupid”, since if the City had simply complied and settled in the first place, they could have saved themselves the 6 million.

            As for the firing of Santana, sorry, but again you are wrong. Here is a quote from CSC: “There is no physical evidence or witness testimony to substantiate Mr. Shanks claim that a professional sports team “urged” the Santa Clara City Council to fire either the city manager or city attorney.”
            So, you can scream and yell as loud and as often as you want to, but the truth is “no evidence”, only your bias opinion.

            Another interesting item is how the heck our city ended up with such a large deficit of 19 million dollars? Well, here’s a partial explanation. A number of years ago, two very large lawsuits were filed against our Police Department. I do not know the details, but I’m certain we could find them. One was about 5 million and the second about 4 million. The lawsuits have been dragging on for years. My understanding is that they were both settled last year.

            Here’s another story. Way back, years ago, when our city had a large surplus of dollars, Lisa thought to invest some of it. She brought up the idea of a real estate investment. So, the old Council agreed and they went ahead and bought several million dollars of vacant land near the Nevada border. Flash forwards now to the present. Jain was investigating possible sources of income since our City is now so much in debt. He noticed the land and suggested it be put up for sale. Lisa and Watanabe objected. They said this was not the right time. However, Jain noted the land was actually continually costing the city a lot of money due to property taxes and maintenance. Also, due to a recent fire on the property, the fences all had to be rebuilt costing more dollars. The City Council agreed, and the property was sold. Unfortunately, the price was much lower than what the city originally paid. So, again, a simple lost of only a few more millions. This lost is on Lisa, and not the 49ers.

            Let’s all just wave goodbye to Lisa, wish her well, and give a warm welcome to our new mayor and a better future for our City.

          • Buchser Alum 2 months ago

            Davy,

            You wrote: “Measure “C” was put up by Lisa Gillmor as an attempt to subvert the CVRA ( California Voting Rights Act) lawsuit. The 49ers were not involved.”

            I agree that Measure C was put up by Gillmor. Not to “subvert the CVRA” as the purpose, but I do agree it would have done that had it passed. I voted against it.

            The Forty Niners were involved. The spent a massive pile of money on the No on Measure C campaign. Around $700,000 dollars or more.

            And the reason that the Forty Niners were so motivated to spend this money is that district elections are cheaper for the Forty Niners to influence than citywide ones. This is plainly evident when comparing how they have so far spent approximately the same amount of money on Becker’s mayoral campaign as they have for Chahal and Hardy’s council campaigns. Around $700,000 dollars total, almost evenly split.

            I think it is very obvious that this was why Gillmor was against district elections and tried to pass Measure C. And Measure A before that. I disagreed with her on this. But I see her efforts for what they were. For good and for bad.

            —–

            You wrote: “As for the firing of Santana, sorry, but again you are wrong. Here is a quote from CSC”

            You are quoting a commenter on an SVVoice.com article? Who is “CSC”? Why is their opinion or statement worth more than yours or mine?

            Whomever CSC is I do agree there is no physical evidence. There are many things that are widely considered true or suspected rightfully to be true without physical evidence.

            Santana being an ally with Gillmor in litigation against the Forty Niners is widely seen to be the main reason behind her firing. There are other issues such as her pay that I thought needed addressing. But I also think the coincidence of the Forty Niners paying millions to get five councilpeople elected and these same five having private meetings and all five voting to fire Santana is also an issue that I think needs addressing.

            —–

            The main reason for our deficits the last two years is the massive drop in hotel and sales tax revenue due to the COVID pandemic.

            Other factors can have contributed to this. If there were large settlements for lawsuits against SCPD then that would have contributed.

            There was no loss of profits from non football operations at Levis stadium during COVID. This is because there was not even any such profit for several years before. This is one big reason why it made sense to invest money in litigation to challenge the Forty Niners management of the stadium. And to at least gain full access to financial records of the stadium’s management.

            —–

            You wrote: “Here’s another story. Way back, years ago, when our city had a large surplus of dollars, Lisa thought to invest some of it. She brought up the idea of a real estate investment. So, the old Council agreed and they went ahead and bought several million dollars of vacant land near the Nevada border.”

            Yes, I agree that is a “story.”

            But the facts of the matter are that the Loyalton property purchase had nothing to do with Lisa Gillmor. It was purchased in 1977. The property has historically not been costing the city money to keep up because the history is that it has been leased. And the renters maintain the property and also pay the property taxes along with rent.

            It is an asset that should be sold at some point. It probably should have been sold earlier before the fire. But since the fire and the current real estate climate with high interest rates has depressed the value I disagreed with the decision to sell it.

            It is good to generate several millions of dollars in profit right now with the deficit. But the property value was the lowest it would ever be due to aforementioned reasons. The more prudent business decision would have been to hold it until a better selling climate.

            —–

            You wrote: “Unfortunately, the price was much lower than what the city originally paid. So, again, a simple lost of only a few more millions. This lost is on Lisa, and not the 49ers.”

            Has it actually been sold or has it been decided that it will be sold?

            The appraisal amount that has been cited on the present value is over $4 million dollars. If the sale is made for that value then the sale will make a profit for the city.

            And once again it was a purchase by the city in 1977 not under Lisa Gillmor’s time as mayor.

            —–

            You wrote: “Let’s all just wave goodbye to Lisa, wish her well, and give a warm welcome to our new mayor and a better future for our City.”

            We all want a better future for our city. And I do not personally care if that is with Lisa Gillmor as mayor or not. As I have said I have some bones to pick with her.

            But I have many more with Anthony Becker. He has nothing to point to in his life to show that he is qualified to serve as our mayor. He did not even have much to point to as qualification to be part of city council. He does not have the years of community experience and service like Chahal, Gillmor, Hardy, Jain and Watanabe. He does not have the education and professional experience that Park has.

            Becker is way too far over his skis and will not represent our city well. This is someone who thought he was qualified to be mayor when he had no community experience to point to other than a failed council campaign and having just started on the planning commission.

            Maybe if he spends another five to ten years on council devoting himself to understanding city management better he can be qualified to be mayor.

            But there is no question that he is not qualified now. Even if we are to totally put aside the question of the Forty Niners and the influence of the millions of dollars they have spent Becker is still not fit to be our mayor.

          • Davy L 2 months ago

            Our City is suffering a major deficit. Other cities in our area have not. However, they have all also experience COVID.
            I do not recall the 49ers being involved at all with the elections of Hardy and Chahal.
            As for this coming election, given the choice of the two candidates, my choice is Becker.
            He may have faults but less so than Lisa. I am a resident of District 6, and in my community, I feel that is their overwhelming choice. After this election, we’re all looking forward to a brighter and better future for our City.

          • Buchser Alum 2 months ago

            Davy,

            You wrote: “Our City is suffering a major deficit. Other cities in our area have not.”

            Instead of trying to dig in your heels and argue for the sake of arguing by making verifiably false statements why not just discuss the issues sincerely?

            San Jose has had over $100,000,000 dollars in deficits the last two fiscal years and faces about that much as a future deficit if solutions are not found quickly.

            https://www.sanjoseca.gov/Home/Components/News/News/3856/4699

            Campbell, Los Gatos, Mountain View and Palo Alto all have had multimillion dollar budget deficits.

            —–

            You wrote: “I do not recall the 49ers being involved at all with the elections of Hardy and Chahal.”

            They are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars right now to get those two reelected.

            —–

            You wrote: “After this election, we’re all looking forward to a brighter and better future for our City.”

            If you do not like the decisions of the last two years then look to the majority on the city council. The city council holds power in Santa Clara not the mayor.

            For that reason Becker becoming mayor would not change a great deal. It is a mostly symbolic position but it is one that he does not deserve. And Becker being the face of the city as mayor would be an embarrassment to us all.

          • Davy L 2 months ago

            Miles Barber:
            “Gillmor spent millions of residents’ money chasing paper tigers that made headlines by 1) suing the 49ers 2) spending millions on legal fees defying the court order for six voting districts 3) spending more City money on her failed Measure C, trying to consolidate six council districts into three 4) hired an $800,000 a year city manager 5) employed a retired civil service attorney whose dubious advice burned through millions.”
            “How did Gillmor inherit a $53 million city surplus in 2016 and six years later, wind up with a $19 million dollar deficit?”
            Becker has been endorsed four Council Members (Chahal, Hardy, Park, Jain), Pat Mahan (former Santa Clara Mayor), Alex Lee (California Assemblymember), Jim Beall (former State Senator).
            My guess is that he shall soon also be endorsed by the Mercury News and the Chronicle. November is coming soon, and we shall be welcoming a new Mayor.

          • Buchser Alum 2 months ago

            Davy,

            You quoting Miles Barber on the Santa Clara mayor’s race would be like me quoting Robert Haugh. Their opinions will only ever be partisan.

            Becker’s list of endorsements is meaningful and so is Gillmor’s. In the end I wish that people like Karen Hardy and Raj Chahal would run for mayor instead of endorsing Anthony Becker for mayor. I respect the years of work they have done for Santa Clara even if I do not agree on everything they have done. I respect them as people who understand the city with maturity that comes from real experience in and out of city government and citizen bodies.

            But I do not respect their endorsement and it raises questions about them in my mind just as their votes on some stadium issues and their private meetings with the Forty Niners have.

            On the matter of the deficit, any criticism for Gillmor should be aimed even more strongly at the entire council. Becker and his allies have had a 5-2 majority for two years. Everything that has been done the last two years is their doing.

            But I would not blame them for the once in a century effects of COVID.

          • Davy L 2 months ago

            Prior to two years ago, I had no interest in City politics. Ok, I knew who our Mayor was, but that’s all. I did not know the names of any Council Members. I figure my single vote never mattered. The election of 2020 sparked my interest. I am a resident of District 6. Our voters were now voting in Districts! This was a vast improvement. There were 3 candidates. However, only one, Becker, voiced a strong support for the Six District System. I had doubts whether my single vote would make much difference. However, I was surprised after the votes were counted. Becker won by only by a few votes! So, my single vote did matter!
            For myself, I feel no threat from the 49ers or Related. They can spend as much money as they wish. It’s their money. And it’s no comparison to the much larger amounts spent by other businesses and corporations. Anyways, my vote goes again to Becker and the hope for a better and brighter future for Santa Clara.

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