Single Gal and a Write-In Campaign

All the talk here on the site last week about a write-in campaign got me thinking (I know, don’t hurt yourself Single Gal): Could a write-in campaign really work for the election in November?  Would it really be possible to write in a candidate (like Pandori) and hope that enough people who wasted their votes on Mulcahy would vote that way on Election Day?  Call me crazy (which many of you have and will continue to do), but I really think it’s not as far-fetched as it seems.

I am not saying that there aren’t some issues to deal with. Pandori or any write–in candidate would have to convince voters to ignore the two names that are printed on their ballot or voting screen.  Writing in a name on an absentee ballot doesn’t take a brain surgeon, but when it comes to the voting machines, voters would actually have to look for a write-in button to appear.  Putting technology into the hands of the general public doesn’t bode well for the write-in candidate. For most people, the mere thought of having to ask someone for help at the polls would convince them to just choose Reed or Chavez simply because they are too embarrassed to ask how you actually write in something on a computerized screen. 

But, Luddites and general idiots aside, what would stop a write-in candidate from winning here?  Couldn’t they legally advertise on TV?  Couldn’t they legally have signs up?  I still see “Mulcahy for Mayor” signs up on lampposts and fences throughout the city, and I doubt he is being fined or punished for it.  I also assume that a write-in candidate would have to garner signatures in order to qualify, but that shouldn’t be hard. 

In doing a little research, I found that it is rare that anyone actually wins a write-in campaign, unless the candidates on the ballot die or are engulfed in scandal.  (Hmmm, sounds familiar).  But instead of thinking it wouldn’t work, let’s turn over a new leaf here at—let’s all ask: WHY NOT?


  1. I think we should write in Chuck Reed because he’s the best alternative to the current vice-mayor, whose tenure in office has been marred by supporting many of the current mayor’s poor decisions.

    What, Chuck’s already on the ballot?

    Never mind.

  2. One danger with a write-in is that it could weaken Reed a provide Chavez with her only hope of eeking out a victory. Reed is so strong that he easily prevails in a one-on-one contest. A write-in campaign would certainly pull some votes from Reed, and probably a few from Chavez (although the Chavez supporters on this site are so fanatical that they support her in spite of all the negative baggage she carries.) While I would certainly prefer Pandori to either of the current candidates, I would not want Pandori to enter the race if it looked like he couldn’t win and might allow Chavez to win.
    Much to think about and all that is at stake is the future of our city. Good luck to us.

  3. Indeed, why not?  it’s legal.  It’s free.  Don’t not do it because some nay-sayer says “it won’t work”.  It’s your right to vote your mind.  If you’re not satisfied with either of the names on the ballot, it’s your right and privilege to write in Michael Mulcahy or David Pandori or Dave Cortese or Tom McEnery or Reality Check or RIPavilion.

    this isn’t a horse race.  you’re not voting for the candidate most likely to win.  You’re voting for the candidate best suited to lead the City of San Jose.  If that’s not Chuck Reed and it’s not Cindy Chavez, then you owe it to yourself and the city to write in someone else.

    Imagine in the general election if the mayor were elected with less than 50% of the vote.  They’d know they need to walk on eggshells to establish some consensus.

    There’s still power in a vote.  Use it…all of it.

  4. I have often wondered recently if either of the two run-off candidates will be capable of getting the city government turned around.  Now there are major complaints about the City Hall info systems

  5. I am all over a write-in candidate that people actually want to vote for.  It’s the only way I’m going to feel good about voting in November.  I simply can’t vote for Reed or Chavez, they are both seriously flawed and SJ is going to suffer under either of their leadership.

    If this blog can get a write-in thing off the ground, I say let’s identify the candidate (Pandori is obviously the one) and start moving on this.  November will be here before you know it and neither Cindy or Chuck have started any high-profile campaigning.  My main concern is funding for Pandori.  He already hocked his house for June and doubt he’s willing to put up any more $ for a long-shot write-in candidacy, but I am 100% in favor of getting an alternative to the two absolutely unacceptable choices we’re looking at right now.

  6. It would take organization and a single candidate’s name to have a chance of success.  A credible organization would have to lead the effort and run it like a campaign otherwise you will just get a bunch of names that won’t tally up to a total that could win.

  7. The problems about the info systems and the call center are no surprise. Thank your previous city manager and current mayor (and most of the council) for this. Under the GonzoBorgsdorf puppet government, the CM had a “hear no evil” policy. If there was a problem he didn’t want to know about—he wanted to believe everything was perfect and he didn’t want Mr. Mayor to get mad at him. As a result, problems grew and grew and became unmanageable which brings us to today’s current difficulties. So, if you like this scenario, then vote for more of the same. If you’d like a change from the last 7 years, do something about it.

  8. Single Gal,
    It is clear that Pandori has a greater understanding of the issues, and a better plan for San Jose’s future.  But how can we make sure that our efforts don’t make him nothing more than a spoiler in this election, enabling Cindy to become our next mayor?  Cindy is currently trailing in the polls.  I am a “Pandori supporter” first and an “anybody but Cindy” voter second.  Sign me up, but first we must make sure that our efforts will do more good than harm.

  9. 13 – In a normal city that might make sense. Here, they seem less than competent and better at screwing things up than at helping. It would be a gamble getting them involved.

  10. My fear of a write in is that Mulcahy/Pandori/whoever will split the votes with Reed and Chavez will come out the winner. That is not a possibility that I want to take a chance on. Chavez’s camp probably will be pushing for the write in for this reason!

  11. #16 I share your concerns.  And it is not lost on me that Reality Check is staying quiet, hoping for exactly the outcome you are afraid could result from a write-in effort.

    But I simply CAN’T vote for Chuck or Cindy.

    I’d like to know what is the root cause for this phenonmenon of political opposites in close races (which I think will be the case between Chuck and Cindy in November) like in 2000, like the current unresolved election in Mexico, and probably here in SJ in November.  What has happened that we have one extreme or the other being put up for election and not a more moderate candidate who can appeal to the majority of voters who are more toward the center?  There is some serious factionalization going on that has created a divisive political scene like this country probably hasn’t seen since the Civil War, and I for one am sick of it, and out of protest and good conscience I will not vote for either Chuck or Cindy even if a write-in effort doesn’t get off the ground.  I will still write in MY choice for mayor rather than select one of the choices the loathesome local electorate handed to us in June.

  12. Why not?  I’d say there are two legitimate answers to your question.  First, there is no way that he could win.  Second, it undermines the whole point of holding a run-off. 

    1) Can’t Win:
    How on earth is someone who couldn’t even get 20% of the vote when his name was on the ballot expect to get enough votes to win when his name isn’t on it? 

    Even if you figure that 90% of the people who voted for Pandori the first time would write in his name (and that’s generous, since there has to be a good percentage who simply accept the current proccess), there is still a LONG way to go.  Pandori would then need to pull more than half of the votes that went to Cortese or Mulcahy just to get to 33% of the vote and even that won’t be good enough to win.  Reed would surpass that by just pulling a 1/5 of the Cortese/Mulcahy votes. 

    One might argue that using June’s totals as the starting point is meaningless since there will be a higher turnout for the November election.  However, higher turnout actually works against a write-in campaign since the new voters are even more likely to simply choose someone already on the ballot.  Getting those people who weren’t sufficiently motivated to vote in June to become familiar enough with the race/issues to write in Pandori’s name is a long shot – and even if you manage to convince them to write his name in, what if they enter Daniel Pantori or David Panari, or David Lantori?

    2) Point of Run-off System:
    The whole point of having a system where the top two candidates face-off is so that the eventual winner has a popular mandate.  By entering a 3rd contestant into the race you are increasing the chance that the eventual winner will not receive 50 percent of the vote.  The result would be to diminish the mayor’s popular mandate and make the prospect of changing San Jose government/ political culture (which most people on this board seem to think is a good thing) that much more difficult.

  13. Dear Single Gal:

    Today’s paper reports on the dismal level of service one gets when trying to contact City Hall.  Also, we read that the council may approve funds for studying ways to upgrade the arena to try and bring an NBA team to San Jose.

    QUESTION:  If the Silicon Valley Entertainment Group (or whatever they’re called) had the financial firepower to make a serious bid for the Seattle franchise, why do they need to take tens of thousands of dollars from the public trust?  Why is the council considering giving more money to millionaires when they can’t keep swimming pools open, and can’t keep the streets maintained, or the park lawns mowed?

    This administration is not just corrupt, it is inept.

    More Bread and Circuses Please,
    Pete Campbell

  14. Ditto #5 You’d need a full fledged write in campaign to make citizens aware of the option.  Remember that the majority of San Joseans are not necessarily politically savvy and will be lucky to just make it to the polls Nov. 7th.

    Hey, does anyone out there know the criteria for sidewalk repairs?  While walking through Naglee Park the last few weeks I notice that extensive repairs are indicated for Lofgren’s sidewalks.  There are numerous areas with similar if not more extensive damage and there are very few other sidewalks marked.  When you look at hers, many of the areas will soon be damaged again because of the large trees on her property that obviously cause the damage.  So, what’s the process. This could be a good investigative report for you, Single Gal.

  15. Have any of the Pandoriphiles actually read his “book”? Critically? His “plan” for San Jose?
    Something thick and full of words, and bound, might impress the easily impressed as a serious effort at political communicating, but again, exactly how does Pandori get us from here to where we need to be. “Don’t” is not a plan. Even when it goes on for pages. The only hope Cindy has of becoming mayor is for
    this stupid idea of “write-in voting” to gain cur-
    rency, which it won’t. Would love to know why
    SG doesn’t like Chuck Reed: too thin? too serious? too patriotic? Not dashing? Spoil Sport—voting against the Dumb Dome, Grand Prix subsidy, Norcal? Would serve SG right if she got 4 more years of Cindy because of her thoughtless, misbegotten “efforts” to get enough people to smoke what she’s smokin.
    Fortunately, the usually sound asleep voters saw through Labor’s huge efforts AND the religious fervor for Pandori and put Chuck in first place when all the SJ Wiseguys guaranteed that he had no chance in the primary. Too much to expect we’ll all do the right thing, but the clear majority will. George Green

  16. Oh great. Instead of listening to Jason we get a write-in Pandori candadicy, Chuck’s vote gets split and it’s 4 more years of the same-old same old. as Pete says, “This administration is not just corrupt, it is inept.” The write-in campaign will just bring on more of the same.

  17. This is the value of SJI. Toss out an idea—like a write-in campaign—and let people thrash around with it. Public discussion with respect (most of the time) for differing ideas is how we come up with solutions. A write-in may not be the best way to get where we want to go, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it.

  18. I’ll take exception to the write-in campaign fostering more of the same at CH.  Even without a write in campaign we can expect more of the same with Chuck or Cindy as mayor.  It’ll just be waaaaaay more boring if Chuck gets in.  This blog won’t have any material either, so enjoy it while you can.  No matter how you slice it, we’re looking at four lost years with either of Chuck or Cindy at the helm. 

    And in defense of SG, I’d say that if anybody’s out there sharin’ a smoke, it’s Reality Check and George Green.  Actually, those two strike me as Kool-Aid material.

  19. # 10:  Les White, the current City Manager, continues to impress.  He just demoted Borgsdorf’s Assistant City Manager who was part of the “see, hear and speak no evil” crowd.

  20. Just back for Sacto.

    I wholeheartedly endorse a Pandori write-in effort for those who feel disenfranchised by the current choices.

    In fact, I would submint that democracy demands it.

  21. #3:  and even more importantly, lack of venom.

    I agree with KB #5—a write in would take from Reed, thus helping Cindy win.

    #22; if someone were to trip and be hurt, that should get the process moving.

  22. Well, that just about seals it as a bad idea. RR has surfaced and favors it so he must agree that it would benefit Chavez the most.

  23. Sure, it would be difficult, but so are many things in life. In the last election most voters voted against Chavez so she has a slim chance of winning this time. Then you have Reed which few are thrilled about. If you take the rest of the votes the other three candidates received and assume that few of those voters are pleased with either Reed or Chavez, then a write-in like Pandori would be in pretty good shape. There are challenges to overcome with a write-in campaign, but given the voter dissatisfaction with the current two candidates, why not go for it. At least we could stop wasting our time talking about the negatives of Reed and Chavez for a while.

  24. #23 George Green
    I like Chuck as a person, but her is far from perfect.  He has no real vision for making San Jose a great city.
    You ask for reasons why not to be a big Chuck supporter, here are a few.
    1… He came up with a poorly thought out plan, that was not inclusive, for NSJ.
    2…He voted to end the Cisco investigation.
    3…He refused to listen to historic preservationists, when they warned him that an EIR was incomplete on the demolition of the Fox Markovitz Building.  He voted to certify it anyway.  The city lost in court and it cost us over $3,000,000 .
    4…In spite of warnings, he voted to certify an EIR that was incomplete on IBM Building #25.  The courts have ruled against the city and Lowes twice on that one.  His and others, lack of respect for CEQA, have resulted in 2 years of delays and needless court costs.  Sunnyvale city leaders sent the same developer a clear message that they must make changes in their project from the start.  The developers made those changes and now have the store up and running, despite the fact that it was started after S.J.
    When will Chuck get the spirit of (CEQA) the law?
    5…Chuck voted to demolish all of Del Monte Plant #3, rather than incorperate the most interesting and historic parts into a housing project.  Are we starting to see a pattern of disrespecting our heritage here?
    6… He recently was the only council person to vote against changes in the preservation ordinance.  These changes gave more emphasis on the importance of preserving our valuable historic resources.  Why a no vote Chuck?
      Need I go on?  BTW, Cindy voted the same as Chuck on five out of six of these blunders.  Cindy also voted for a lot of costly mistakes that Chuck did not support. Chuck is honest and smart, but he needs to be open to others, for new ideas.  It is ok for Chuck not be a visionary, as long as he is smart enough to collaborate with someone like Pandori. Right now the best thing he has going for him is, he is not Cindy Chavez.  So that gets us here today with Single Gal, and her big idea.

  25. #33, I can appreciate your remarks, this town has destroyed way too much of its historical real estate already, but overall, you have showcased the disaster that was created in June.  Chuck is NOT a visionary, and I’m sorry but that is what this town has needed since Tom left office.  I can’t vote for Chuck, period.  Cindy answers to labor, not her constituents, so there’s no point in voting for her either.  Whether a write-in movement gets off the ground or not, I will be writing in my vote for Pandori in November.  I’m SICK of having to settle for the lesser of two evils, whether it’s for President, Governor, or Mayor, I’m disgusted, and I’m NOT voting for Chuck OR Cindy, period.

  26. Mark T. – Understand your feelings and agree with most of it, however a vote for David at this point is a vote for Cindy. While I am not thrilled with either choice I cannot in anyway assist Cindy in forming the Department of Labor on top of City Hall. We will all do what we have to do but please think about the ramifications of what you are planning to do. Would you rather have Chuck or Cindy as the next mayor??

  27. You guys should write in Lieberman’s name.  That way everyone who lost in a primary can get another chance.

  28. #10 and #27 AMEN!

    If you don’t truly understand Borgsdorf’s teflon qualities try reading the Grand Jury transcripts.  “It’s the City Attorney’s responsibility, no wait, it’s up to the Director of Environmental Services…err, I referred that to the City Attorney”, ad nauseum.

    Did Les White demote M*** L***** ?  If so it wasn’t the first time….look back at Les’ first term as San Jose’s City Manager.  He banished a few non-performers back then.  Wonder if there are a few department heads who are feeling nervous these days?  Anyone want to take odds on the fate of Helmer, Allen and Stufflebean in the near future?

  29. Voter,

    Cindy seems to be doing a pretty good job of making Chuck look good.  But she still has a ways to go before I’ll be able to stomach voting for Chuck.  Cindy seems like a nice person.  But she has sold out to the point of being on back-order and can’t be considered.

  30. Some random thoughts:

    If Pandori couldn’t win the primary by what logic does anyone think he could win as a write-in candidate? Besides, the guy has too much integrity to allow himself to be used as the possible catalyst for a Chavez victory.

    If a write-in vote is a “protest vote” for a 3rd candidate please remember the lessons learned from the Bush-Gore-Nadar election. I wonder how many Nadar voters are happy today with the result of their exercise in voter’s rights?

    Mark T: OK, Reed isn’t entertaining, but this isn’t American Idol. The question is: Would he be competent as Mayor? You might not like the choices but it’s going to be Reed or Chavez.
    For me it’s a no-brainer. It will, however, be interesting to see if Pandori gives an endorsement. 

    Speaking of Politics-As-Entertainment, look how quickly Mulchay turned his back on government service once he didn’t land the starring role as The Next Gavin Newsome. I’ll bet the Chamber’s really proud of their boy now!

  31. #34 Grunt – Katy Allen does a good job. I can’t speak for the rest. Les is awesome though and in the past he didn’t mind getting rid of non-performers. I don’t know what happened w/M.L., I don’t know what he was or was not doing. Not that I have any inside info (b/c I don’t) but like you, I bet there is more housecleaning.

    As for the Pandori thing, while I understand how you guys feel, I don’t think he’s the answer either. And apparently i’m not alone. So what are we to do?

  32. #43 Anyone know who will be key positions on Reed’s or Chavez’s administration if elected? 

    Will they keep any Gonzales people – Guerra, Doyle, Dept Heads, Chief of Staff, senior Mayor’s / Council staff etc?  Anyone who knew about Guerra and that he would be working for Gonzales would have voted against Ron

    FinFan / Reality Check – are the campaign staffs or consultants up for the key jobs?  When you vote for Mayor you vote for Mayor and their key staff   Knowing Who – could help voters make up their minds

  33. #45:  Where’s Jude when we need him?  After the campaigns are over, can he return to CH and provide a moral compass that has been desperately needed these last few years?  Nah, just a pipe dream—Chuck and he wouldn’t mesh.  Too bad.

  34. Willow Glen Mom #42

    Good question! 2 months ago, it would have been Cindy (the vision thing, thinking outside the box, etc.), but after the “labor peace” fiasco in regards to New City Hall and food vendors there, plus a few other things, I really don’t know who I will vote for. Chuck is a good, honest man but I don’t think he will do much to advance the city unless he has a good team that helps him. Iv’e not seen that yet, so the answer is I honestly haven’t made up my mind.

  35. #44 and #45 brought up really good points. Some people are only as good (or bad) as the people around them. I too would like to know who some of the staffers would be and, how much influence they would have. Cindy needs someone who is not crazy in love with unions and Chuck needs a bright forward thinking person. Someone give us an idea as to who these two would have!

  36. #48:  Why would Victor leave a varied consulting practice to get tied down with one person?

    And Phaedra could be far more effective behind the scenes staying @ SBLC, rather than be in the light of day and accountable to the public for the decisions she makes for Cindy.

  37. If Chuck wins isnt his consultant Victor A the odds on favorite for Chief of staff (cant give any more insight than that)

    If Cindy wins Im guessing Phaedra is her chief of staff, maybe Neil S will be her budget director or maybe head of redevelopment?
    More yet to come

  38. #49
    You failed to grasp the true meaning of my posting. They wouldnt actually serve those positions but would be the behind the scenes folks. Kind of like in the movie Casino where you had your center piece so called leader and then the real leader. With the way our city is going we are starting to look more and more like a town run by “behind the scenes individuals.” I wonder where someone like Victor Duong will fit into this picture. Find out whom he has raised money for lately

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