In 2005 when Jude Barry was managing Steve Westly’s unsuccessful primary campaign for California governor, the Related Companies’ lobbyist was so well known nationally that CNN political commentator Carlos Watson dubbed him a candidate to be “the next Karl Rove.”
Since then Barry has been popping up as a paid advisor, consultant or strategist for Santa Clara’s biggest development projects.
His political history is long and storied, but it’s his ability to position himself as the guy who gets things done within the City that gives him the appearance of unusual sway over municipal politics.
One of his early introductions to Santa Clara City Hall came in 1990 when Barry was an aide to then County Supervisor Ron Gonzalez. Gonzalez was part of a regional team working to bring a baseball park to Santa Clara. The ballpark plan was championed by a young Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kevin Moore and meetings were held in Santa Clara. Voters turned down the baseball stadium when they were asked to approve a county tax to fund it.
Fast forward 17 years. Barry was hired as a lobbyist for the San Francisco 49ers. His assignment was running the successful Measure J campaign in 2010, which ultimately resulted in the state-of-the-art Levi’s Stadium off Tasman Drive.
During the Measure J campaign, Barry and Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor—who was not on Council at that time and chaired the Yes on J committee, Santa Clarans for Economic Progress (SCEP)—worked closely together on the sole goal of building a new home for the 49ers in the City.
The two, along with volunteers, sought signatures—and eventually gathered 6,000—to add Measure J to the June 8, 2010 ballot, at a cost of $390,000 taxpayer dollars. Only 25,133 of Santa Clara residents voted that June and the Measure passed with 58.2 percent of the vote.
Gillmor wasn’t the only Council Member to work closely with Barry in his work with SCEP and his role as a lobbyist. Current Vice Mayor Watanabe and Gillmor, along with current Council Member Debi Davis, appeared in TV ads for the measure.
June 2010 election night photos show Watanabe’s husband, West Valley Mission College Board of Trustees member Karl Watanabe and their daughter at the Measure J party. Watanabe is featured in photos of resident supporters at a Jan. 2012 Council meeting and the family was featured in an album of supporters on SCEP’s Facebook page in 2010.
Then-Council Member Moore was a champion of the stadium—he subsequently wrote a book about it—as was former Council Member Jerry Marsalli and former Mayor and current Council Member Patricia Mahan.
Soon after Measure J’s passing, Barry and the 49ers parted ways, but he was quickly picked up as a lobbyist for the 240 acre, $6.5 billion City Place project by the builder, Related Companies.
A Weekly reporter received an informal preview of the concept from Council Member Moore at the Gillmor Real Estate office in the summer of 2012, before the proposal’s subsequent public introduction. It appeared that the team that had won the stadium victory was reassembling to build a Santana Row-like entertainment and retail center across from Levi’s Stadium.
For the past six years, Barry has held meetings with Council Members—often being listed as consultant or with his company, Catapult Strategies, Inc.—to lobby for Related’s mixed use project near Levi’s Stadium. Developing relationships with the Santa Clara decision-makers, notably Gillmor and Council Member Teresa O’Neill, may have helped the developer persuade the Council to approve the project.
In 2017, Barry took a curious detour from his work for Related, which Barry still lists on his lobbyist report.
Barry teamed up with polling and strategic consulting firm Tulchin Research, at a rate of $325 an hour, to perform work on behalf of Project Finance Advisory Ltd. (PFAL), the firm charged with bringing the yet-to-be-funded $252 million Santa Clara International Swim Center project to fruition. This is documented in Council agenda reports about the exploratory project.
Barry also led community town halls that tested the persuasiveness of different statements for a potential parcel tax ballot measure to finance the new swim center.
Neither Tulchin nor PFAL are listed on Barry’s most recent lobbyist filing dated Jan. 16, 2018, which states Barry’s only client is Related.
In recent months, the website for Barry’s company, www.getcatapult.com, has been taken down, but is viewable as a Google site, https://sites.google.com/site/getcatapult/Home, and, although not mentioned on the website, Barry’s work lobbying and consulting Santa Clara Council continues.