Flanked by Council Members Debi Davis, Patrick Kolstad and Kathy Watanabe, Mayor Lisa Gillmor commended Dominic Caserta for resigning his seat on the Santa Clara City Council at a press conference this morning, while saying “his actions have been a terrible stain on our city.” The City Council, Gillmor said, could now “begin the process of moving forward.”
When asked if Gillmor was concerned about a ‘rush to judgment,’ Gillmor replied, “Those who made the allegations did so on their own. We [the Council] are looking at his violation of our city ethics code.” Gillmor said the Council was not privy to the police reports.
Gillmor was also asked how it was that the Council didn’t act on claims that were made years and decades ago, referring to complaints in Caserta’s personnel file. “I can only speak about our performance as City Council, she said, which she described in her press statement as “acting quickly and responsibly.” Any other questions would have to be answered by the school district, she said.
The Mayor said that the Council will “explore options” for filling the now-vacant seat at the May 22 meeting. Gillmor also said the Council was going to put a censure procedure in place. Presently, there isn’t one.
Caserta also “suspended” his campaign for the County Board of Supervisors and published a statement this morning, saying that under the current circumstances he could no longer serve his constituents or advocate for the issues he was running on, and that serving Santa Clara residents “has been the highlight of his life.”
He also pointed to the release of his personnel file by the school district, “illegally,” “just four weeks before the primary election,” as evidence of political opponents efforts to discredit his candidacy and “bury me professionally and personally.”
“I would never do anything to harm the health …of my family, my students, my school district or our city,” he said in his statement. “The allegations against me are false in every sense of the word, yet I have been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion without due process.”
Following the City Hall press conference, the San José Police Association PAC held a press conference in front of City Hall demanding that Pierluigi Oliverio likewise withdraw from the supervisor’s race and commending those who have made allegations against Caserta.
Oliverio was the subject of a 2013 sexual harassment lawsuit filed by staffer Danelle Fedor when Oliverio was a San José City Council Member. Oliverio was subsequently dropped from the suit and San José settled with Fedor.
When asked whether as a law enforcement officer Paul Kelly—someone drilled in due process—thought that the morning’s media events were a rush to judgment, Kelly replied “that would be true if we didn’t have some insight into the cases.” According to “the details we have there may be investigations that may be criminal.”
“If we did the things at our jobs that Mr. Oliverio did, we’d be fired,” said Kelly.