The role of a Santa Clara County supervisor has gone from one of the cushiest jobs in local politics to one of the most demanding. The five-member board oversees a multibillion-dollar budget, 20,000 employees, two embattled jails and one of the largest public hospital systems in the state. It governs a byzantine network of departments and nonprofit contractors that deliver social services for the homeless, sick, elderly, poor, non-citizen and otherwise most vulnerable among us. Now, more than ever, under a Trump administration at odds with progressive state and local governments, the county could be in for a fight to save its federal funding. That hasn’t stopped people from lining up for the job more than 16 months before the June 2018 primary election in the hopes of succeeding Supervisors Ken Yeager, who terms out at the end of 2018, and more than three years for the 2020 race to replace Dave Cortese. Not a week since he entered the race for Yeager’s District 4 seat, Santa Clara Councilman Dominic Caserta already has his fundraising out of the way with a reported $250,000 war chest. After a failed run for Santa Clara Valley Open Space District, former San Jose Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio is preparing to run against Caserta along with his former council colleague Don Rocha, Campbell Councilman Jason Baker and San Jose Unified trustee Susan Ellenberg. Another possible contender for the seat: Patricia Gardner, head of the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits, a coalition that includes a number of organizations funded by the county. Meanwhile, some names being floated for Cortese’s seat include Derrick Seaver, executive vice president of the Silicon Valley Organization (formerly the San Jose-Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce) and former North San Jose Councilman Manh Nguyen, who got ousted from his seat after only a year by Councilman Lan Diep. Other tentative contenders: former Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves, his successor Rich Tran, who is still very intent on going viral, and ex-Sunnyvale Councilman Otto Lee.
Correction: A precious version of this story misstated the year Dave Cortese terms out of office. San Jose Inside regrets the error.