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[whitespace] Seeking Council

Four open seats behind the dais at North First signals an opportunity for change in San Jose

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, San Jose voters have more to worry about than Mayor Ron Gonzales' love life right now. With looming regional land use and transportation issues such as development of Coyote Valley and the bringing of BART to the South Bay, the availability of four seats on the San Jose City Council promises to be critical to the future of not only San Jose but the entire Bay Area.

District 2 (South San Jose)
Kathy Napoli

In the primary, we endorsed Kathy Napoli because we felt she would be a tireless advocate for protecting Coyote Valley--the city's largest remaining stretch of open land--from indiscriminate development.

We still feel that way, though Napoli surprised us by coming out in favor of Cisco's 20,000-employee Coyote Valley Research Park, approved by the council Tuesday.

Like every other politician backing the $1.3 billion project, Napoli justifies her position by pointing to the city's general plan, which has targeted the area for campus industrial uses. "That's the exact kind of [land use] planning we've been working toward," she says.

It's a flawed argument. City decision-makers originally designated north Coyote Valley for light industrial uses in 1982. Plenty has changed since then. No one in 1982 could have predicted the insane traffic gridlock and inflated home prices endured by valley dwellers in 2000. Despite what Cisco and its backers say, this project can only make traffic and housing prices even more unbearable.

We suspect there's a simple political reason why Napoli--a notorious naysayer who ran unsuccessfully for mayor twice--is backing Cisco. Her allies in the Santa Teresa Citizens' Action Group, a collection of 500 district residents fighting a proposed 600-megawatt power plant in Coyote Valley, are supporting the Cisco project.

Nonetheless, we still believe Napoli would toe the green line better than her opponent, IBM engineer and ex-Planning Commissioner Forest Williams. Napoli won't rule out opening up Coyote Valley in the future to residential development, but she still expresses reservations about whether the area can support a homebuilding boom.

Williams, meanwhile, is being backed by the Home Builders Association and building and construction trades, which makes us suspicious of what he'll do.

Like Napoli, Williams also opposes the proposed power plant and favors the Cisco project.

But unlike Napoli, Williams is not combative. We think District 2 needs a fighter, someone who isn't afraid to say no to developers and special interests.

District 4 (Berryessa)
Chuck Reed

There's no doubt environmental attorney Chuck Reed is the establishment's candidate in this race: He is endorsed by a majority of the City Council including Mayor Ron Gonzales. He has served on both city and county planning commissions. And he recently served as president of the Rotary Club of San Jose.

We're not always fond of button-down candidates--see some of our other endorsements--but Reed is an

exception. He's well regarded by the Sierra Club, which endorsed him, and he helped craft San Jose's campaign finance and ethics ordinance. When we've dealt with him, he has always been a straight shooter.

His opponent, restaurant owner Kansen Chu, seems to speak out of both sides of his mouth.

Chu is telling people now that he opposes Measure A, the proposed sales-tax extension that would help finance BART's extension to San Jose. But people who attended a recent Chamber of Commerce forum say Chu indicated at the time that he supported Measure A.

Chu is being backed by organized labor, which views Reed as hostile to its plan to extend the so-called living wage ordinance to redevelopment contractors. Ironically, Chu's old business, Ocean Harbor Chinese Restaurant, was nonunion.

Reed won't be a flashy councilman, but we trust he can get the job done.

District 6 (Willow Glen, Rose Garden)
Kris Cunningham

This promises to be the closest of all the City Council races. Both Kris Cunningham and Ken Yeager would be capable councilmembers. But we ultimately think Cunningham, soccer mom and neighborhood do-gooder, would better represent the interests of her district.

Should he get elected, Yeager, a political science professor at San Jose State, would be the City Council's first openly gay member. But even though Yeager is a member of a disenfranchised class, he is the insider in this race. Yeager, currently a trustee for the San Jose-Evergreen Community College District, is getting major help from Mayor Ron Gonzales and organized labor, which has made this race a top priority. Before becoming an elected official, Yeager served as an aide to Rep. Don Edwards and Supervisor Susanne Wilson.

Cunningham, on the other hand, cut her teeth as a neighborhood activist, working to preserve historic Hoover Middle School. Lincoln Avenue business owners--particularly John Karamanos of The Glen--have accused Cunningham of being a NIMBY. But Cunningham has shown she doesn't always toe the NIMBY party line. During the primary, she joined business leaders in opposing Measure O, which would have stalled the airport's expansion. Yeager, by the way, supported Measure O.

Don't get us wrong. We wouldn't shed any tears if Yeager gets elected. However, we think Cunningham would be a more independent voice.

District 8 (Evergreen)
David Cortese

Few people give AT&T Broadband lobbyist Eddie Garcia much of a chance to win next month. His rival, attorney David Cortese, son of retired Assemblyman Dom Cortese, almost won outright in the primary. Since then, the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council and the Chamber of Commerce--both of which split their endorsements in the primary--have abandoned Garcia and put both feet on the Cortese bandwagon.

In spite of the odds, Garcia has shown a lot of hustle and dedication, raising a respectable $60,000 so far, according to his consultant. We admire his energy, but still think Cortese is the better candidate.

Garcia is ultimately another political hack--he served as an aide to Councilwoman-cum-supervisor Blanca Alvarado--running for elected office. He ran for school board and lost--twice.

Cortese, too, is a political hack. Just a more accomplished one. He currently serves as a trustee for the East Side Union High School District.

Garcia has accused Cortese of being a shill for developers. We disagree. Cortese has endorsed Measure K, the hillside-protection measure, even though ex-Councilwoman Pat Sausedo, a consultant for green-line-hating landowners, is backing him.

Cortese's lack of enthusiasm for gun control does give us pause. But he's essentially correct in saying that gun regulation is the domain of federal and state governments, not city councils.

Vote for Cortese.

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From the October 26-November 1, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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