Santa Clara candidate for mayor Anthony Becker declined any endorsement opportunity from Santa Clara’s Police Officers Association (POA) PAC today, saying the endorsement would come with strings attached including swearing to “protect” the elected police chief.
In a release to the media Becker said, “When we, as public officials take the oath of office, we vow to serve our community without reservations or exceptions. Our city ethics and values state that councilmembers will ‘work toward consensus building and gain value from diverse opinions.’ This is the opposite of pledging in advance to ‘protect’ a specific city official or office from the democratic process.” Becker News Release on POA PAC Endorsement
The POA PAC invited Becker to share his views on the City through a Candidate Questionnaire before announcing whether it would endorse Becker or incumbent Lisa Gillmor. Santa Clara POA PAC Questionnaire
The first question on the candidate questionnaire distributed by the POA PAC said the POA “firmly believes that Santa Clara voters have the right to elect the Police Chief as enshrined in the City’s Charter. Will you agree to sign the attached Pledge to Protect the Elected Chief of Police?”
In his statement to the media, Becker said he could not in good conscience agree to such a stipulation.
“The discussion of an elected versus appointed police chief has been a hot topic of late,” said Becker. “I cannot in good faith take a pledge that might oppose the lawful will of the community that I am elected and committed to serve.”
The issue of an elected police chief has been a topic of discussion at recent City Council meetings. During the Aug. 30 City Council meeting, Vice Mayor Suds Jain proposed adding an item to a future agenda to discuss a ballot measure that would eliminate the City Clerk and Police Chief as elected offices.
Santa Clara Police Chief Pat Nikolai spoke at that meeting against the ballot measure. Nikolai ran unopposed in 2018 and was backed by the City’s POA PAC in the election.
In 2018, the POA PAC endorsed Gillmor.