Last week, Pat Dando, who announced back in December that she would be leaving her post as Chamber CEO at the end of this month, decided to extend her stay in office. Her stated reason is that she wants to give the Chamber search committee more time to find the perfect candidate. What’s more likely is that she’s keeping the seat warm for Pete Constant.
The lone Republican on the San Jose City Council, Constant has made no secret of the fact that he covets the Chamber gig—as well as the Sheriff’s job, if Laurie Smith departs, which doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon. City Hall insiders suggest that he is loathe to depart until the city deals with its current $105 million budget crisis, which is almost guaranteed to go up if (when?) Gov. Jerry Brown kills the Redevelopment Agency.
Mayor Chuck Reed intends to pass his budget ASAP, and Constant’s vote is crucial if the mayor is going to win. Still, this fight could easily drag on until June. So Dando, who succeeded former Assemblymember Jim Cunneen as Chamber CEO in the summer of 2005, must hold down the fort until summertime.
Her presence around the office would also allow Dando—a celebrated micro-manager—to continue to influence the committee’s decision. Dando isn’t directly involved in the search process, but she did lay out criteria for the Chamber search committee chair Gerry DeYoung.
Having managed and owned photography studios over the course of three decades, Constant has small-business experience and would be yet another Republican in a long line of Chamber CEOs. But some of the Fortune 500 companies in the valley—such as Cisco, HP and Applied Materials, who write the biggest dues checks to the Chamber every year—might prefer someone less politically polarizing than Constant. Some will recall the battle that erupted when the ChamberPAC tried to endorse Larry Pegram—another right-wing Republican and former San Jose cop.
If he doesn’t get the Chamber job, formerly “Big” Pete will still have some options: stay in City Hall and make a run for mayor in 2014, or take on Campbell Councilmember Evan Low in a 2012 race for the 24th District State Assembly seat.
Meanwhile, Dando has moved to The Villages, in the eastern hills of San Jose. That could very well make the lawmakers who represent that adults’ ccmmunity—US Rep. Zoe Lofgren, County Supervisor Mike Wasserman, and (especially) Assemblymember Nora Campos—keep close tabs on her next moves.