San Jose City Council candidate Helen Chapman will take part in a series of political forums this fall, after threatening last week to pull out over the District 6 incumbent’s role in organizing the events.
Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio, who terms out at the end of this year, invited Chapman and her opponent, Dev Davis, to three candidate forums this fall. In a scathing email, Chapman questioned Oliverio’s use of city resources to facilitate the events.
“I cannot participate in these forums should we not be able to establish strong nonpartisan and unbiased management over these forums,” she wrote in an email to Oliverio, which she shared with several local journalists.
Chapman said she was also surprised that the incumbent didn’t contact her campaign about her availability before booking the three dates. She then asked that his staff to recuse itself from moderating or picking questions for the events.
“I believe my opponent would agree that impartiality is important when city resources are used in city affairs, especially elections and/or politics,” Chapman wrote.
Davis, however, had no qualms with Oliverio organizing the events.
“As candidates, we have a responsibility to allow residents every opportunity to get to know us and how we stand on the issues,” Davis wrote in an email to Julia Baum, the Mercury News reporter who moderated one of the candidate events leading up to June’s primary election. “I am grateful for these planned forums, and I’m looking forward to participating.”
Oliverio reassured Chapman that moderating journalists, which will include San Jose Inside’s Josh Koehn, will have complete control over which questions, submitted by D6 residents, are relayed to candidates during the forum. The venues, he added, will be provided free of charge. And the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters will offer on-site voter registration.
“Thank you for following up,” Chapman replied. “I am encouraged by your clarifications. … With your assurance of impartiality, I look forward to participating.”
Oliverio raised the hackles of some primary candidates over a “voter information transparency project,” in which he asked candidates in the primary to share how they would vote on real issues coming before the council. He also staged a series of forums, similar to the ones set for Sept. 14, 26 and Oct. 17. Chapman participated in the forums, but not the incumbent’s “transparency project.”
Chapman and Davis finished ahead of six other candidates in June, securing their place in the fall runoff. It will mark the first time two women will square off for the D6 seat.
Davis, a Stanford University researcher, garnered the most votes June 7. Chapman, a former parks commissioner and San Jose Unified School District researcher, finished a close second.