As a woman, a feminist and a lifelong activist, I’ve been aghast at how dirty this campaign season has become—particularly as it relates to several female candidates.
Women often feel we should support female candidates because there aren’t enough women in politics and until there are, we’ll never achieve equal representation, close the wage gap, stop ridiculous attacks on health care, and so on.
However, we have a few female candidates this year who prove the importance of substance over sisterhood.
Assemblywoman Nora Campos and Santa Clara County Board of Education trustee Darcie Green have turned this election season into a pilot of Real Housewives of Silicon Valley. The soon-to-term-out assemblywoman and her aspiring successor sunk to a new low by lobbing ludicrous, borderline comical accusations against state Sen. Jim Beall.
(For more on that, see San Jose Inside’s coverage of the fiasco.)
These sisters in scandal presented no evidence to convince the public that they’re being “bullied” and “harassed” by Beall and his union “thugs.” Their words, not mine.
You know, evidence like the kind that got Green’s husband convicted of beating and stalking his exes before she got fake-engaged to him on a Summer Jazz Fest stage last summer.
Or evidence like the kind that got Campos’ brother, former San Jose Councilman Xavier Campos, cornered enough to invoke the Fifth instead of answering questions about a stolen election.
Or evidence—at least in the form of accounts by credible witnesses—like the kind that makes her husband look a lot like an aggressor after a recent rumble that got his balls all a-jumble.
The assemblywoman’s storied turnover in legislative staff tells quite a tale in and of itself. Constituents meet a seemingly sincere leader who promises to do everything she can to help. “Here you go, here’s a card,” she says, offering the contact info for one of her aides. Much good that does when said staffer gets axed in one of her inevitable staff purges.
I personally have gone through this process several times. I’ve even stopped by her Sacramento office, without an appointment, to find it almost empty, and have the receptionist confess they have staffing issues.
If Campos can’t treat her staff well—you know, the people there to support her and her constituents' needs—what does that say about her as a public servant?
Given all these issues, what better way for these two to deflect from their own problems than to point an accusatory finger at someone else? It’s a calculating distraction. In Green’s case, it’s an attempt to become relevant.
If these female candidates truly want to find someone who has put several women through “emotional terror” they’d look at Democratic Central Committee candidates for AD28.
“Putting people over the powerful” reads the cover of one of ex-San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen’s political action committee fliers supporting her AD27 campaign to replace Campos. How ironic.
That same PAC also put out a piece that seems to brag about her supporting the controversial pension reforms brought by Measure B. Yes, that Measure B—the one that gutted San Jose’s staff and police department. I can’t imagine shy she’d want to brag about that, with San Jose’s murder rate on track this year to reach the historic highs it hit during her time on the City Council.
Meanwhile, that wasn’t her PAC that put out the DUI hit piece against her opponent, former council colleague Ash Kalra. That was her doing. The fact that Nguyen felt she couldn’t win on her own merit, but had to go for a Campos-style below-the-belt hit speaks volumes about her character.
Let’s look at Helen Chapman, who’s running for the District 6 council seat up for grabs as Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio rides out the rest of his term. Chapman became an early darling of both the homeless community and labor groups. Now that she’s publicly stated she’s against stricter rent control, which is one of the biggest issues facing the city, does she still deserve labor’s endorsement? Does another “no” vote on the council support “immigrant women rising?”
When she came out against the Evans Lane project—a transitional housing complex for the homeless—she rightfully lost the support of many homeless residents and advocates. Rent control and homelessness go hand in hand and disproportionally affect women, who stay homeless longer than their male counterparts in Silicon Valley.
Do four years of potential votes against supportive housing and rent control sound appealing to women and other marginalized communities?
Women need and deserve candidates that truly represent us and the issues that affect us with integrity, honesty and an unwavering sense of self that doesn’t change based on polls, donors or intimidation. We are a strong sisterhood when we have good candidates. We have and we will continue to make great strides.
Shaunn Cartwright is an activist, housing rights advocate and co-founder of South Bay Tenants Union. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.