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[whitespace] And Then There Were Three: Susan Hammer is one of three people claiming to be mayor of San Jose.

It's Good to Be Da Mayor

Last time Eye checked, Susan Hammer is still the mayor of San Jose, albeit a lame duck one. But judging from recent campaign propaganda, San Jose is the only city in America with three mayors. It may come as news to Hammer, but her bitter rival on the city council, Pat Dando, is also claiming the sixth-floor throne. The mayoral candidate's new lawn signs say, "Pat Dando--Mayor of San Jose." Note the lack of any qualifying preposition like "for" before the word "mayor." From a strategic standpoint, the ploy makes obvious sense in a year when voters are flocking to the familiar. But Hammer's office can't be too happy about it. Mayoral chief of staff Sean Morley was none too pleased about Dando's ballot statement in which she calls herself "the mayor's advisor." The mayor she was referring to was Tom McEnery, not Susan Hammer, though voters might not know the difference. Dando campaign director Erik Schoennauer dismisses Morley's gripe as "petty." Pat was merely listing her employment experience, Schoennauer sniffs. "It wasn't misleading at all," he says. ... The other person claiming the mayoral mantle these days isn't even a candidate for mayor anymore. On the day Kathy Chavez Napoli endorsed Dando for mayor this week, the scrappy one issued a press release with the inexplicable letterhead "Kathy Chavez Napoli--San Jose Mayor." ... With Napoli on the bandwagon, Dando can parade her Latino support in the east side, where she did poorly in the primary. Napoli's endorsement is the second coup of the month for the Almaden Valley Republican. A couple of weeks ago, the African American Democratic Club announced it was getting behind Dando. Meanwhile, Dando's monolingual Latino opponent, Ron Gonzales, is winning over grumpy white guys right and left. The European American Issues Forum is firmly committed to making Gonzo San Jose's first Latino mayor. "I think he will be a unifying force," gushes European American Dale Warner.

Catholic Crutch

Alum Rock trustee Esau Herrera is back on his feet, sort of, after spending three days in bed nursing a broken ankle he suffered during a recent pickup basketball game. Fellow trustee Nancy Knight couldn't resist snickering when she saw Herrera on crutches: "So you finally shot yourself in the foot." Herrera's mobility is so limited that the school district coughed up $225 for him to stay the weekend at the San Jose Hilton so he could attend a conference. (The district usually won't spring for lodging in San Jose.) "I didn't have anyone to drive me over and back," Herrera explains. He does, however, assure Eye that he sank that three-point shot before he rolled his ankle. ... When he's not having to explain his cast while on the campaign trail these days, Herrera is educating people as to why he took his two kids out of Linda Vista Elementary--one of the schools in the Alum Rock district--to put them in St. John Vianney, a private Catholic school. Herrera insists it's not a comment on the quality of the public schools in the district he represents. "They get something at St. John Vianney that they can't get at any public school, which is a strong religious education," he says. Not to mention getting to wear plaid outfits.

Sleaze Tease

Ex-Santa Clara Mayor Eddie Souza has good reason to say "I told you so." During the battle to save Agnews, his critics cynically scoffed that the Edster was only using the issue as a launching pad for another City Council candidacy. Well, his critics were wrong; Souza's name is conspicuously absent on the November ballot. "They did that," Souza explains, "to make it sound like the only reason I was involved [in the fight to save Agnews] was because I was running again." All he has to show for his efforts on the Agnews campaign, Souza sighs, is a $12,000 legal bill. So, for now, Souza is enjoying the unfamiliar role of campaign-season spectator, and he's even dropped the five pounds he packed on during the Agnews campaign. That doesn't mean Souza is going to remain totally neutral when it comes to the mayoral race, however. His hatred for his arch rival, Mayor Judy Nadler, is too strong to allow for neutrality. "She's a sleazy slut and an outright liar," Souza huffs. "She constantly lies to cover her ass." Souza has agreed to lend his charm and name support to candidate Fred Clegg, who, Souza admits, "has a snowball's chance in hell of winning." Nadler shrugged off Souza's verbal assault. "More than one person has described him as a colorful person," she observes, "and I guess that's still the case."

Rhymes With Witch

First it was lesbian heifers. Then came a controversial reference to Adolph Hitler while speaking to junior high kids. Now it's those "bitches" who won't accept his propaganda. We speak of none other than the Capital Cowboy, Assemblyman Pete Frusetta. Witnesses who bumped into him during an Expo in Gilroy last month recall Frusetta calling a woman a "bitch." According to Judy Cavazos, she overheard Frusetta use the epithet after a woman friend of hers refused his campaign baseball card and told him she would vote for his opponent (who, this year, is Salinas Mayor Alan Styles). Cavazos says she went up to Frusetta and challenged him: "You called my friend a bitch." "I did?" Frusetta responded. When Cavazos pointed the woman out, Frusetta allegedly replied, "You're right, I did." Cavazos says she then informed her acquaintance of what Frusetta said and the two women decided to confront the politician again. The shifty pol told them that he used the word "witch," not "bitch." Either way, Cavazos doesn't find it amusing. "I don't believe he has the right to judge us as voters," she argues, "if we vote for him or not."

Mean Team

In these days of spending limits, District 3 candidate Tony West wisely decided to save a few bucks during the primary by not hiring a political consultant and designing his own campaign literature. And by all accounts, he did a pretty admirable job. But it's do-or-die time now for West, and so he's enlisted the help of political fixer Joe Guerra, chief of staff for Councilman Frank Fiscalini and a fellow Bellarmine alumnus. Guerra is generously donating his services for the cause, so West still won't have to shell out a few thousand bucks for a consultant. (Cindy Chavez, on the other hand, is paying ex-Bay 101 flack Ed McGovern to run her campaign.) Voters can expect a more contentious tone in the campaign with Joltin' Joe on board. "It's safe to assume things will be done differently," Guerra acknowledges. "His (West's) style is very different from mine--he's a nice guy."

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From the October 8-14, 1998 issue of Metro.

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