The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Santa Clara City Council Candidates for District 1: Harbir Bhatia & Kathy Watanabe

We invited all Santa Clara City Council candidates to speak directly to the voters through The Weekly’s print publication and on the Silicon Valley Voice website. If you don’t know what District you’re in, please check the City’s District map on their website.

Candidates had a week to reply. We asked candidates to answer the following questions in 100 words or less:

  1. What’s your position regarding the City’s continued appeal of the voting rights lawsuit it lost in 2018 and what course of action would you advocate for?
  2. What do you think is the City’s major challenge and how would you address it?
  3. What do you think is the major challenge in your district and how would you address it?
  4. What is your view of Santa Clara’s current Council dynamics?
  5. What’s the first motion you would make as a Councilmember?

Here are the candidates’ answers, unedited. We note candidates who chose not to respond.


Harbir Bhatia

  1. After Measure C failed, the City should close the case. The City residents have spoken through their vote. It is wasting our time and funds, like other unnecessary lawsuits.  So let’s spend our time building positive relationships and being constructive with our time and resources. Especially after COVID our people are looking for solutions to help their quality of life, housing support, for economic support, and helping small businesses survive. We need to spend time creating positive value to benefit the public.
  2. COVID & Economic Recovery —We need to stop the CVRA lawsuits, restart the Levi’s stadium programming safely and in consideration, restart destination marketing of the city for future events to uplift the economy and the budget, and explore revenue streams, models and programs for a sustainable future. I will collaborate and partner to solutions to the needs of the city, safely. Existing contracts need to be reviewed to identify opportunities for re-negotiations, community benefits, and relief. We’ll need sustainable recovery programs, Internet access, and rebates for the hard hit residents and small businesses. We will need to increase commissions like the Climate Commission and explore jobs and workforce retraining. 
  3. It seems many of the challenges facing the City are in District 1. Firstly, Northside Santa Clara is urgently in need of an area plan to ensure infrastructure, mobility and traffic management, open spaces, community benefits, climate solutions, market rate and affordable housing, existing and new retail/commercial are designed in balance for a quality of life for new and existing residents. The current planned developments include ~15,000 new housing units, entertainment district, new commercial spaces, but no unified and integrated Northside area plan and limited input in the various projects. I will work with the community and staff to produce a plan.
  4. We need more of qualified, diverse, future minded, objective, collaborative and community focused councilmembers that can get along. It’s time to create value instead of poor relationships, negotiations, and lawsuits. In this economic climate, fresh perspectives and new representatives will help our recovery and get things done, while building future leaders. I would leverage my community, state, county, and city relationships to support our residents. For example, the funding to open the Northside library was possible with the support of partnerships. Now during COVID, by collaborating with the community, we addressed significant PPE gaps and relief solutions for Santa Clarans to nationally. We can do much more for our city, cooperatively.
  5. The first thing is to improve our financial status. Starting with closure of the CVRA appeal and other frivolous lawsuits, starting our economic engines, getting the public involved, and working with the county and state to address the resident’s needs, safely. So, we can spend our energies creating solutions that provide a more livable, sustainable, safe, enriching, and thriving city for everyone.


Kathy Watanabe

“I won’t be replying,” Watanabe.


  1. Bruce Shepherd 3 years ago

    Simple … dump Watanabe – her absolute incompetence in eliminating the Visitors and Convention Center staff then lying about the reason for her vote and her refusal to even answer questions here show that her lack of respect for residents and that she is not capable of doing anything herself but needs the mayor who frivolously spends city money to tell her what to do. Harbir will be a champion for the City and the residents and I highly recommend her!

  2. Jean 3 years ago

    I am going to post this here because R. Haugh of a local blog refuses to publish any of my posts that disagree with him. He and our city hall has made it obvious that anybody opposing the current council majority and running for council should be banned. Both are doing everything they can to avoid any minority representation on City council. There actions speak louder than their words about exclusivity and transparency. Harbir will be a much needed fair, independent thinker on council.

    Editors Note: We have edited out the name of the blog so not to support fake news.

  3. Travis Spencer 3 years ago

    Kathy Watanabe is a champion for the residents of her district in North Santa Clara. She was instrumental in helping us get the Northside library funding over the hump and across the finish line. Many of us here support her and look forward to her reelection.

  4. Annette Manhart 3 years ago

    Santa Clara, you deserve better than your current City Council Person!
    Santa Clara needs Harbir Bhatia now more than ever!

    Can Santa Clara Really Afford to . . .

     Consistently convey reckless financial advice costing the city and local businesses substantial losses
    in income?
     Have City Council members make important voting decisions without thoroughly doing their
    homework, or without fully understanding for what they are voting?
     Throw thousands of dollars on audit after audit only to find nothing?
     Agree to support outrageous and questionable salaries of the Santa Clara City Manager and Assistant
    City Managers?
    You can count on HARBIR BHATIA!

     Finally, a City Council candidate who will . . .
    o Take the time to read entire audits and verify the findings before voting to eliminate prosperous
    and important organizations, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue for local
    businesses and City of Santa Clara!

    o Work for the benefit of the people who live in, work at, or visit the City of Santa Clara. A
    person who will support local businesses and organizations.

    o NOT be swayed by shameless city politics or personal interests that negatively affect the city’s
    well-being, budget, jobs, and family’s lives!

    o Be fiscally responsible and work toward a better Santa Clara for all residents, organizations,
    and local companies.

     Finally, a City Council candidate who is kind, compassionate, helpful and has the unique ability to lift those in need, fight for what is right, and stand up for the truth!

    Harbir is a priceless gift to the City of Santa Clara and has dedicated her life to helping others and contributing countless volunteer hours to support the Santa Clara community. She is a person of the highest integrity, a true leader who does not make promises without a strategy, and someone you would want on your City Council to represent you, and the city where you live and work.

    Harbir is truly a gift to Santa Clara! I applaud and appreciate her willingness to serve on the Santa Clara City Council and admire her many years of working to help others in Santa Clara and around the world. She is knowledgeable on city issues, will be fiscally responsible, understands the value of education, family, and commerce, and is more than competent and able to be one of Santa Clara’s best Santa Clara City Councilperson.
    Harbir Bhatia is your best choice for the Santa Clara City Council!

    Annette Manhart 10/2/20

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