Alvarado, Chavez Make Final Push for Tuesday’s County Supervisor Election

Voters in Santa Clara County’s District 2 will choose a new county supervisor Tuesday, when Teresa Alvarado and Cindy Chavez face off in a special election. The two Democrats are vying to replace the seat vacated by George Shirakawa, Jr., who resigned amid scandal in March. 

In the June 4 primary, Chavez received 41 percent of the vote and Alvarado came in second with 31.5 percent, setting the stage for Tuesday’s runoff. Coming within 10 percentage points of Chavez, the obvious frontrunner in the primary, was seen as a partial victory for Alvarado, but it remains to be seen if she has cut into that advantage enough to make Tuesday’s race close.

Alvarado has campaigned on a message of transparency and governmental reform, in an attempt to illustrate her distance from Shirakawa and his cronies. Chavez has emphasized her experience and support for workers.

Both candidates have made crime a central issue in the race—never mind the fact that county supervisors have no control over the operation of San Jose’s police force, which handles nearly all crime in District 2. Nevertheless, promises to combat corruption and crime resonate in a district that has been subjected to both. (Editor’s note: In respect to full disclosure, San Jose Inside endorsed Alvarado for county supervisor.)

Still, the deciding factor in Tuesday’s election may be neither crime nor corruption, but political savvy. As the Mercury News’ Scott Herhold argued in a recent column, “Chavez is a professional politician. Alvarado is not. That distinction cuts both ways.”

When mediating a recent San Jose Rotary Club debate between the two, Judge Arthur Weisbrodt questioned Alvarado why she hasn’t attacked Chavez more aggressively, and whether Chavez would be a “rubber stamp” for labor—an issue the longtime labor leader herself called “the elephant in the room.”

That elephant could grow in stature as the county plans to address pension reform.  The county’s $4.1 billion unfunded liabilities will be a central issue in Tuesday’s election, according to a recent report, particularly in a political climate that remains charged by Measure B’s passage last June. Alvarado, who has aligned herself with Mayor Chuck Reed’s message of fiscal reform, voted for Measure B, while Chavez, a former leader of the South Bay Labor Council, helped organize a campaign to oppose it.

Chavez has greatly benefited from the coordinated support of the Santa Clara County Democratic Party and the South Bay Labor Council, while Alvarado’s campaign cannot receive help from independent expenditure committees. Both campaigns have been accused of breaking campaign laws in this regard.

Tom Torlakson, California’s superintendent of public instruction, and insurance commissioner Dave Jones recently endorsed Chavez for the seat, lauding her experience as an advocate for public education.

Alvarado, meanwhile, has been endorsed and supported by the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Reed and others. Like every election, Tuesday’s runoff will be decided by those who show up to vote—assuming absentee ballots haven’t already put this thing in the bag.

9 Comments

    • The last thing this County needs is another supposed Democrat like Chuck Reed. Teresa Alvarado’s “Democratic” values have been thrown in the trash because she desperately needs to win this time around. I’m sure Alvarado is a nice person, but she has seriously played into the Republican Party’s hand and turned her back on the majority of residents in this County. Most Republicans want to take away our constitutional rights, especially the woman’s right to choose. Cindy Chavez is the best choice for Santa Clara County. Chavez’s record conveys that sentiment and so much more, at least that’s what Alvarado thought in December 2012. Here is Alvarado’s letter to the San Jose Mercury News:

      Chavez Demonstrates a Laudable Record
      By Teresa Alvarado

      The Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley applauds Cindy Chavez for her continued impact on major policy initiatives to improve the financial stability, health and well being of our community. Chavez was the first Latina to represent the downtown district on the San Jose City Council. Her contributions to downtown development, new housing, BART and the Children’s Health Initiative have benefited the entire region. As an organization founded to promote Latina leadership, we look to civic leaders like Chavez who actively participate at the decision-making tables with intelligence, tenacity and a spirit of bridge building.

    • You hit the nail on the head – Tony (Big Geo) will be cruising ‘round the ‘hood in his jumbo SUV with his ankle bracelet and his gun, while Livia Soprano (Chavez) calls the shots at 70 West Hedding. Not a pretty image, folks.

  1. I direct you to Google
        “Fixing The Mexican Heritage Plaza.”
    Jack Van Zandt Oct 4, 2007 San Jose Inside
    If you read this post in it’s entirety, You will choose well.
    The Village Black Smith

    • I read the article, Now I am totally confused (TIC) – thank goodness I haven’t voted yet.

      San Jose Inside/Metro the Mercurynews (that “other paper”) has been telling us over and over that Teresa is the “political outsider.”

      Van Zandt paints a picture that Teresa is actually a political insider!!!

      Can this be true?

  2. Oh, give me a break. In this election, “the right to choose” is not an issue. Every time someone is losing the argument, they drag out the Republican boogeyman and drag in irrelevant issues like abortion. Let’s keep the focus on trying to prevent more corruption and mismanagement at the county level.

  3. the key here is the “$4.1 billion in unfunded liabilities” and all of the “U’s” throwing their support behind the candidate who’ll do everything to ensure us regular folks & city/county/state/federal taxpayers get shafted once again. Chavez? U gotta be kiddin’…

  4. this should be an easy decision.  just ask yourself who has the best long term interest of the county at heart and who is just padding her resume with plans to assume Zoe’s throne when she retires in a few years?

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