The Sunnyvale City Council approved a resolution to appoint Linda Sell to the Council to represent District 1 and cancel the district’s Nov. 8, 2022 election. The Aug. 23 vote was 6-1, with Council Member Russ Melton voting “no.”
Melton said while he supports Sell, he thinks holding the election is a better idea in the long run.
“I have a real problem with the fact that there’s only one candidate that decided to run in District 1,” said Melton. “I think our residents in District 1 need to see the fact that there’s only one candidate in their district running for election. They need to see that and they need to sit up and they need to say, ‘What the heck is going on here? Why is there only one candidate running in District 1? Why don’t I have a choice?’ To me, the best way to advertise the fact that there’s only one candidate running for District 1 is to put it on the ballot.”
Other council members supported Sell but also expressed frustration with only having one candidate.
“Just from a process perspective. This does not seem to be the way we wanted district elections to go,” said Council Member Glenn Hendricks.
Hendricks says, as a resident of District 1, he wishes there was more of a choice.
“I’m very disappointed in the residents of District 1,” said Hendricks. “I live in District 1. I tried to get multiple people to go ahead and run and for a variety of reasons, people didn’t want to. As a voter in District 1, I’m sad that we don’t get to vote.”
Vice Mayor Alysa Cisneros disagreed with Hendricks. She does not see this as a failure of the district election process
“In the last district election process, the district elections did exactly what they set out to do,” said Cisneros. “It drew in candidates who were not repeat players in the Sunnyvale political circles, it generated greater opportunity for diverse candidates to be successful in their campaigns or to even consider running for office and in fact, this is happening in both of the other district elections.”
Cisneros says her real concern is that the Council has not done enough to identify and develop future city leaders.
Several community members spoke at the meeting supporting Sell, citing her integrity, dedication and involvement on Sunnyvale’s Housing and Human Services Commission.
Sell promised to continue to hold office hours, attend community election forums and go door-to-door in her district, regardless of what the Council decided. That fact was not lost on at least one voter.
“I had one reservation and my reservation was the democratic process to me is very important, and I didn’t want irrespective of the funds, I didn’t want people to lose their ability to vote,” said District 1 resident Gail Rubino. “I think Linda is aware that all the people in District 1 need to know who she is, and I really admire her efforts to continue to campaign even though she will be, I hope, selected as our next council person for District 1.”
Sell was the only person who filed nomination papers to run for District 1 City Council Member. California election code allows the City Council to appoint the person to the office if they are unopposed.
The Council’s actions do not change the terms of Sell’s service on the Council. She will still begin her term in 2023, when the other elected officials begin their terms.
By appointing Sell to office instead of running an election, Sunnyvale will save approximately $20,000.
The other two races for Sunnyvale City Council are District 3 and District 5 representatives. Each district has two candidates who have filed the requisite nomination papers.