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Op-Ed: Inaccuracies Found in Voter Information Guide

Santa Clarans received their County Voter Information Guide with what I believe are inaccuracies submitted to them.  Through research and to ensure fair, accurate, and transparent elections the following are clarifications.

Clarifications Rebuttal to Argument Section – City Clerk

Page 17

  • A part-time elected City Clerk HAS NOT been “enshrined in the city’s charter for decades.” The role was changed by the City Council in 2018.
  • Executive searches for City employees do not cost more than ballot elections. The City Manager’s office confirmed an election costs residents hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • The current part-time City Clerk proclaimed he has no certifications and may vote to change the position to appointed. The current full-time Assistant City Clerk holds a Master Municipal Clerk certification and completes 99% of clerk responsibilities.

Page 18

  • The current City Clerk proclaimed he may vote to amend the City’s Charter to appoint the City Clerk and may not seek the role in the future, this may leave it empty in 5 months.
  • Aside from residing in Santa Clara, no other qualifications for an elected City Clerk were designated in 2018 when it changed to part-time.
  • The City Council isn’t involved in hiring a full-time appointed City Clerk. Whereas a part-time elected City Clerk needs to raise campaign money and seek political alliances.

Visit for additional information.

Clarifications Rebuttal to Argument Section – Chief of Police

Page 23

  • The National Center for Education Statistics and the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting categorize Santa Clara as a Mid-Size, Group 2 municipality like Sunnyvale and Mountain View. Santa Clara’s socioeconomics or city performance should not be compared to Large, Group1 cities with very complex challenges.
  • There ARE NOT 64 officers eligible to run for police chief in Santa Clara. Presentation from the employee union president cited sixty-four PORAC members from a third-party mailing list.  PORAC is an insurance & benefits trust provider, not a list of current of full-time police officers.  A simple call to the City Manager’s office can further clarify this for you, (408) 615-2210.
  • Any peace officer cannot move to Santa Clara and serve as police chief. Santa Clara’s longest serving, full-time paid, Chief of Police Frank Sapena had to request “two-months leave of absence without pay for the purpose of campaigning.”  Sapena was joined by fellow Santa Clara Chiefs of Police Donald Ferguson, Charles Arolla, and others speaking in favor of amending the current Charter for police chief.

Page 24

  • With 33 years’ service, the current Police Chief is due to retire. The current City Charter requires candidates for police chief to live in the city at least 30 days before they can be placed on the ballot. Neither of the Assistant Police Chiefs live in Santa ClaraWith just 9 months before the current Police Chief’s term ends, no senior leadership qualified candidates have been identified to replace him.
  • 11 of 13 municipalities in the County appoint their police chief. This includes Sunnyvale, Campbell, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Mt. View, and Milpitas.  Police Chiefs in those cities are vetted, interviewed, and hired by the City Manager.
  • City Managers are not pressured to hire a particular Police Chief, just ask them (408) 615-2210.
  • With less than 5 months before candidates must confirm qualification and be nominated, residents don’t have the time, resources, or professional experience to identify qualified police chief candidates. Santa Clara’s City Manager and City Attorney have experience doing this in the cities of San Bruno and Chula Vista.

Visit for additional clarifying information.

Residents for a Better Santa Clara ask you to Vote YES on both Measures A and B!


  1. John Haggerty 5 months ago

    Four Observations:

    (1) Our City Charter currently requires our elected police chief to be as qualified as a County Sheriff is statutorily required to be. Measure B eliminates that requirement and has NO required qualifications at all. The supporters of Measure B argue that the City Manager can later establish qualifications (which they expect him to do). However, Measure B, itself, does not REQUIRE him to do so. This is a serious omission.

    (2) All 58 of California’s 58 counties ELECT their Sheriffs and District Attorneys; our state elects its Attorney General; and each of our judges are subject to retention elections. The election of all of these law enforcement officials (and judges) has led to a much greater public trust and acceptance of our law enforcement system than the bureaucratic appointees of a political appointee (as now proposed by Measure B) ever could. The supporters of Measure B point to a few incompetent/corrupt sheriffs over the years, but they are a small percentage of the total,

    (3) The supporters of Measure B suggest that their proposal is beneficially apolitical. However, if the politically elected members of our City Council do not like whom the City Manager selects as police chief (were Measure B to pass), they can ask him to terminate that chief. If the City Manager refuses to do so, the City Council can terminate the City Manager. (The City Council terminated the previous City Manager.) So, politics would still remain if Measure B passes. (It would just be less direct and clear than the present which could lead to some very unfortunate buck passing between the City Council and the City Manager.)

    (4) Finally, as I have noted previously, the current, recently appointed City Manager has yet to state, declaratively and straightforwardly, that his office has the ability and/or resources to permanently select and/or supervise a police chief were Measure B to pass. I continue to find it difficult to understand how the voters of our city can make an informed choice with respect to Measure B without this vital input from its chief executive officer. Furthermore, what would our city do were Measure B to pass and the City Manager then tells us that he lacks the ability and/or resources to adequately supervise the SCPD?

    Thank you for generously providing this forum for the debate of public issues which are vital to the wellbeing of our city.

    • CSC 5 months ago

      (1) A requirements list wasn’t omitted. The current City Manager has selected police chiefs before, and the CRC and City Staff have been presented with documentation for best practices. The City Manager isn’t speaking out during this time of election, but he seems prepared to successfully implement change if voters approve.
      (2) There are many academic studies that contradict your unsupported opinion that electing “has led to a much greater public trust and acceptance of our law enforcement system than the bureaucratic appointees of a political appointee.”
      (3) Politics will always play a role in our society, but current city policies prohibit City Council Members from directly interacting with appointed city managers. The Fire Chief, Director of Utilities, and other departmental heads have never had a problem with the City Council and vice versa. The only problems that have arisen are between elected police chiefs/sheriffs and elected politicians. Perfect examples are the cities of Sunnyvale, Mt. View, Campbell, Milpitas, etc. Try to find one instance where those Police Chiefs, City Managers, and City Councils have engaged in public battles.
      (4) The current City Manager has hired executive staff before and has experience supervising police chiefs.

      • John Haggerty 5 months ago


        Thank you for your replies to my four observations.

        It seems to me that the key word in your reply to my first observation is “seems”.

        With respect to your reply to my fourth observation, I would ask: (a) What about future City Managers? (b) Does the current, recently appointed City Manager have experience in managing a city, a law enforcement agency, a power company, and a major league stadium all at the same time? Why can he not directly and straightforwardly address this highly relevant subject, now, before the voters of our city make their momentous decision?

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