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Mayor Doesn't Make Cut

Chicago, New York, Baltimore, Atlanta, Denver, you've all got something San Jose can only hope for: a mayor ranked by Time Magazine as one of the best in the nation. Time consulted an unknown number of "urban experts" who agreed mayors like RICHARD DALEY of Chicago, who's managed to keep the Windy City growing even as federal dollars have dried up, or ABLE AMATEUR of Denver, who wiped out a $70 million deficit without cutting major services, are quality CEOs of their respective cities. What about our own mayor, RON GONZALES? His spokesman, for one, thinks he ranks among the highest in the land. "The national media tends to overlook the West Coast in general except for celebrity trials and odd California trends," DAVID VOSSBRINK explained in an email. Vossbrink went on to name Gonzo's accomplishments: 10,000 new affordable homes, continuing the "safest big city in America" designation, balancing budgets, reducing graffiti and energizing neighborhood participation. "Ron focuses on the task at hand to make San Jose the best it can be for the people who live and work here," Vossbrink concluded. "That's more important than worrying about Time Magazine." At least Gonzo wasn't mentioned among the bottom three mayors—from Detroit, San Diego and Philadelphia. But it has to sting, if just a little, that S.F. Mayor GAVIN NEWSOM was given an honorable mention for reducing homelessness, providing health coverage for those under 25 and ending a hotel strike. Oh, and he also opened the door to a new era of human rights when his administration married more than 4,000 gay couples last year. Compared with that, Gonzo's legacy looks a tad miniscule.

The Endorsement King

Let's suppose you're a candidate who has no friends among the political elite but, since you're running for office, you'd like to pile up endorsements so electors might become convinced you're a force to be reckoned with. What to do? Contact S.J. Councilman FORREST WILLIAMS pronto. In the District 7 special election June 7, Williams has endorsed five of the nine candidates, an unofficial S.J. political record. Williams, a humble-but-lovable former software engineer, says he endorsed the five— BETH GONZALES, LINDA and MADISON NGUYEN, RUDY RODRIGUEZ and write-in candidate BOB DHILLON—because they'd previously helped him campaign. Other observers point to Williams' desire to get along with everybody to the point where his opinion becomes virtually invalid. "Forrest has always been magnanimous with his praise," one pundit observes.

Queer Theory

Speaking of endorsements, one of those small ironies occurred last week when a group of gay Democrats endorsed MADISON NGUYEN for the District 7 seat. The irony? The race also includes an openly lesbian candidate, MAHEALANI, a 52-year-old job services employee running in her first election. EVAN LOW, president of the Silicon Valley Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Democratic Club, said the organization isn't a one-issue group and that Nguyen was the most impressive of the candidates the group interviewed. Low said that even more interesting was the fact that only the four females in the race bothered to respond, even though the SVLGBT club sent email reminders to the candidates to answer questionnaires and appear for interviews. Homophobia, insensitivity or what? Low wouldn't speculate. "I just think it's unfortunate," he sighed.

SJ's Own Teresa Heinz

In S.J.'s timid political circles, the rule of thumb is that, except at election time, politicians are usually mute, and their spouses even muter. That makes PATTIE CORTESE, wife of District 8 Councilman DAVE CORTESE, somewhat of an exception. Last month, Pattie sent an email to Cortese's constituents, pleading for them to begin a letter-writing campaign to the S.J. City Council to save Cortese's Evergreen Visioning Project. The project, a massive housing development that will pay for $260 million in new community improvements, came under fire in late April from councilmembers who felt, among other things, entitled to part of the $260 million for their districts. The project, after all, will impact at least two other districts' transportation patterns. At the April 20 council meeting, councilmembers voted to dissolve the project's task force, which had been meeting for the last two years. Dave Cortese went ballistic, saying his plan was being derailed because he was running for mayor. Pattie Cortese sounded a bit embarrassed that we called to ask her about her involvement, saying she was a mother first and activist second. She said her involvement in the EVP evolved from a community newsletter she emails periodically. "I send it every month or every other month. I'm not very organized. I've sent it out for five years and don't see why I should change now. I try to be useful. I try to be helpful. I try to serve some good." Some political observers, however, see Pattie's Cortese's involvement as a sign of Dave Cortese's leadership weakness. His wife began the letter writing effort from a Cortese campaign address, leading some to speculate he orchestrated her email from behind the scenes. "David is letting his wife do the dirty work," was one comment we received. Other speculation centered on the thought that Cortese's wife is a loose cannon, a la TERESA HEINZ KERRY, who often shot from the lip during last year's presidential race. A third option, of course, is that Pattie Cortese simply felt compelled to become involved in an issue she cares deeply about. "I'm a grassroots kind of person," she says. But as the mayoral campaign intensifies, will anybody outside of District 8 believe her?

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From the May 11-17, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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