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Power To Your Voice

Santa Clara March Election: What Your Vote Means

Want some extra help navigating your Santa Clara ballot? Read on to learn about how we got here and what your vote means.


Measure C – City Council Member District Elections

Ballot Language: “DISTRICT COUNCIL ELECTIONS: Shall the City Charter be amended to elect city council members by district, excepting the mayor, as follows: for the 2020 election to establish six districts for the election of one council member to represent each district; and, beginning in 2022 to establish three districts for the election of two council members to represent each district; and to require an independent redistricting committee?”


Background: The City of Santa Clara is currently appealing their ruling in a California Voting Rights Lawsuit. The Judge ordered six districts, which were used in the November 2018 election. In 2018, the voters also passed Measure N which meant that they wanted the City to engage in a public process to draft City Charter amendment language. Then, the City created a Charter Review Committee and that committee proposed the three district solution which was accepted by resolution in November 2019 by City Council in a 4 – 2 vote, with one Council Member absent.

Yes on Measure C Means: The City will amend the Charter from electing City Council Members at large (meaning everyone votes for every Council Member) to districts.

A yes vote means you want six districts — one Council Member per district — for the 2020 election. But it also means that in 2022 you want only three districts — two Council Members per district. See the three district map on the City’s website.

Your yes vote also establishes that Council Member, Mayor, Chief of Police and City Clerk candidates be residents of the district they represent (or resident of Santa Clara for at-large positions) for at least 30 days.

The Argument For Measure C can be found on the City’s website and has signatures from three of the four Council Members who voted for the resolution — Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Council Members Kathy Watanabe and Teresa O’Neill.

No on Measure C Means: The City Charter continues to say Santa Clara elects their City Council Members at large, however, the voters will elect City Council by six districts with one Council Member per district, which is the current court order by the Superior Court. The current six district map that was used in 2018 would also continue to be used — the six district map can be found on the City’s website.

The Argument Against Measure C can be found on the City’s website and its signatures include the two Council Members who voted against the resolution — Council Member Karen Hardy and former Council Member Pat Mahan.

Note: Voting yes or no doesn’t change the way the Mayor, City Clerk, or Police Chief are elected. These positions are elected at large (everyone gets to vote) and that won’t change.


Santa Clara Police Chief

Santa Clara Police Lieutenant Patrick Nikolai is running unopposed in a Special Municipal Election for Santa Clara Police Chief. You can read his ballot statement on the City’s website. There will be another election in November 2020 for Police Chief.

Background: Police Chief Mike Sellers retired early in August 2019 — and in October 2019 the City Council did not appoint a replacement. Instead, they passed a resolution to have an election in March 2020 (passed 6-0, with one Council Member absent) and another election in November 2020. Assistant Police Chief Dan Winter was planning on running for Police Chief but dropped out of the race in November 2019, saying he was concerned about the impact a “contentious” election would have on the Police Department.


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