Pierluigi Oliverio has come under fire recently for his campaign fliers that show him posing with kids and what some people believe is his “pseudo family.” I just have to come to the defense of Oliverio. Being single is tough no matter where you are or where you live, and even tougher, apparently, if you are running for a council seat in the ultra family-oriented Rose Garden and Willow Glen neighborhoods.
I believe Oliverio when he says that he wasn’t trying to trick or dupe the voters into thinking that those people were his family, but I know his advisors, and perhaps Oliverio himself thought, “Well, this couldn’t hurt.” Unfortunately, in some people’s eyes, it can. I think this episode may be more of a reflection on the campaigning process itself and what type of person candidates feel they need to present to the voters. Yes, a devoted father of three who wants to make his city better does speak to the voters more than a single guy looking for “Mrs. Right.” Maybe people feel that a family person is more likely to keep their roots here and that single people can be flighty and may not invest enough time in the area.
Ron Gonzales ran on a platform of being a devoted husband to his wife of many years, and it worked for him in the short run. In the long run, though, he didn’t need it and started a new chapter in his life. Similarly, Sam Liccardo is a noted bachelor but, in District 3, being a family man wasn’t so important to the voters. (Well, the 300 people who voted anyway.) The district has fewer single-family homes and more single voters than other areas of the city, and Sam Liccardo not being hitched with 2.5 kids wasn’t a factor at all.
I hope that the flyers don’t end up hurting Oliverio in this runoff and that voters will see him for the person he is, not for the picture of what they want him to be. I think he could bring a lot of positive energy to City Hall, even if he has to check the box that says “single.”