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Nevermind: Ex-San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery is expected to announce that he doesn't want to run for mayor again.

McEnery: Not To Be

San Jose's own version of Hamlet, ex-Mayor Tom McEnery, won't be running for his old job again. As of press time, McEnery had notified supporters of plans to sit out the mayoral race next year, a move he planned to publicly announce Thursday morning. This clears the way for McEnery's former apparatchik, Pat Dando, to seek the city's top elected post. Dando, who was wearing her best canary-eating smile at Wednesday's Rotary Club lunch meeting, has withheld announcing her candidacy pending her old boss' decision. The Macster is also expected to announce his helpful endorsement of Dando when he reveals his choice to continue hosting a local radio program and, according to the San Jose Mercury News, "writing low-budget movies." ... Because of the late start, however, Dando may already be at a slight disadvantage in the money game. In contrast, robo-campaigner Ron Gonzales spent Dec. 4--the first day mayoral candidates could legally raise money--setting up his committee and shaking the money tree--hard. Dando's already tried to lower expectations, telling reporters that she doesn't plan to start fundraising in earnest until January. That's a very convenient timeline since candidates must periodically disclose who has given them money, and the first reporting period in the mayoral race will cover Dec. 4 through Dec. 31. Campaign contributors--especially those with their fingers to the wind--will be looking at that report to see which horse they should bet on. If, as seems likely, Dando raises less cash than Gonzales in the first month, she can always say that she didn't really try during December. ... Meanwhile, Frank Fiscalini has informed one political operative that he doesn't want to run for mayor again. Fiscalini, Eye-watchers will recall, lost a brutal campaign to Susan Hammer in 1990. The council's elder statesman says he plans to make his career plans, or lack thereof, public before the end of the year--which, of course, is what he said last year.

Back Where It Started

It looks as if the District 3 council race could be another battle between San Jose's two political machines led by ex-Mayor Tom McEnery and current Mayor Susan Hammer. The McEnery camp, including departing Councilman David Pandori, is lining up behind federal prosecutor and planning commissioner Tony West, while insiders surmise that the Hammer camp will court union official Cindy Chavez. Hammer warmed up to Chavez during the 1992 ballpark campaign in which Chavez served as a field coordinator. (Chavez has tapped ballpark campaign consultant and Bay 101 lobbyist Ed McGovern to run her campaign.) Initially, City Hall­watchers thought Hammer aide Sean Morley would serve as a good bridge candidate acceptable to both camps. But the potential for unity may have fallen apart after Morley last month chose not to run. A Hammer spokesman cautions that her mayoralship hasn't made up her mind about whom she'll back yet. And just last week, West was spotted in City Hall chatting with Hammer, who voted to put him on the Planning Commission. ... West is quick to point out that even though he thinks of McEnery as a friend, he doesn't consider himself a McEneryite. McEneryite or not, West will benefit from Pandori's support. Though the contrary councilman isn't popular with his colleagues, Pandori's more popular with constituents and knows the district politics well. And with Chavez almost guaranteed to get the backing of organized labor, West will need Pandori's help. ... Meantime, Olinder Neighborhood Association president Philip Reynolds tells Eye that he's running for sure. And SJ school board prez Rich Garcia is also doing his homework for a possible council bid. As for those out of the running, former San Jose Downtown Association president Fil Maresca has announced that he'll be sitting this one out. Having been selected to produce the Emergency Housing Coalition's America Festival, he'll be concentrating on his events production company, Filco. Finally, it looks like the current Downtown Association chief, French restaurateur Abi Maghamfar, won't be a candidate: He just accepted an $87,500 job as the Redevelopment Agency's parking coordinator.

Coming Out

It looks like Sheriff Chuck Gillingham will be hanging up his holsters to run for San Jose City Council next year. "The bear's out of the cave," Gillingham tells Eye, using his favorite animal metaphor. "I'm going." Chuckles didn't elaborate on why he chose to ditch his sheriff's job, but in effect he'll be giving up a $131,000 post to seek a $60,000 one (though presumably he will collect his generous sheriff's pension check, too). He'll face Planning Commissioner Linda LeZotte for the West San Jose seat being vacated by Trixie Johnson. That may be his only competition. District 1 resident Gordon Reynolds, another person who thought about running, is on an extended leave of absence from his job with county Supervisor Pete "Primo" McHugh because of a serious illness. ... In a relatively conservative district, which previously has produced the likes of "Madame No" Lu Ryden, Gillingham figures to be a tough candidate to beat. But LeZotte, a Democrat, has the support of both Johnson and Mayor Susan Hammer (the mayor's holding a fundraiser at her Rosegarden home for LeZotte next week) and has been lining up supporters since July. ... With Gillingham out of the way, Deputy Sheriff Ruben Diaz says he'll be running for his boss' old job. Earlier in the year he told reporters he wouldn't run if Gillingham sought re-election. Meanwhile, another potential candidate, San Jose Police Chief Lou Cobarruviaz, wouldn't reveal his plans at press time, though inside sources say he's in. If so, that means there will be three Latino candidates for sheriff: Diaz, Cobarruviaz, and Deputy Sheriffs' Association vice president Jose Salcido.

Pitching Wu

It's no secret that Mountain View businessman George Koo loathes famed Milpitas resident and Chinese human rights activist Harry Wu. The critical Koo, who serves as managing director of International Strategic Alliances, vocally supports free trade between China and the United States (and, some might say, is an apologist for the Chinese government). Wu, a dissident imprisoned by the Chinese government at least a dozen times, has spoken out against granting China most-favored trading status with the U.S. So it was a small irony that when the acclaimed Wu postponed a scheduled appearance at the Mountain View Rotary Club last month, Koo graciously spoke in his stead. The irony turned to farce, however, when Wu subsequently canceled his make-up appearance at the last minute, apparently because he might have jury duty--an excuse Koo doubted--and Koo once again served as the understudy. This time, however, Koo let loose to the Rotarians with a verbal assault comparing Wu to infamous fibbers Adm. Jeremy Boorda and federal judge James Ware. "In retrospect," Koo tells Eye, "I greatly regret making that analogy, since the latter two gentleman, other than minor embellishments, had distinguished careers. Mr. Wu, on the other hand, can make up stories on the fly with no compunction."

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From the December 11-17, 1997 issue of Metro.

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