District 9 City Council Hopefuls Share Their Vision for San Jose

Candidates angling for San Jose’s only open City Council seat on the June ballot shared more than a stage at a Monday forum hosted by the Santa Clara County Democratic Club.

In an hour-and-a-half question-and-answer session at Harry’s Hoffbrau, District 9 hopefuls found common ground in their reasons for running, their dislike of a contentious developer-backed ballot measure, the need for more housing and their support for rebuilding the police force.

The contenders—Rosie Zepeda, Pam Foley, Shay Franco-Clausen, Kalen Gallagher and Sabuhi Siddique (a sixth, Scott Nelson, was absent)—diverged when it came to money in politics, building density and Google’s planned entrance into downtown.

“I support Google coming and all that it can bring with it, but the devil is in the detail,” said Foley, a 14-year San Jose Unified School District trustee endorsed by the Silicon Valley Organization (SVO).

Gallagher, a teacher-turned-startup entrepreneur and five-year Campbell Union High School District trustee, agreed that the project would be a boon for city coffers, but could also price out more people and snarl traffic.

“There’s a good way to do it and a very awful way to do it,” he said.

Siddique, who sits on Santa Clara County’s Human Relations Commission, said the city should be bold enough to demand enough affordable housing for the 20,000 or so jobs Google is expected to bring.

Zepeda knocked the city for what she called a lack of transparency on the Google negotiations and other developments. “A lot of those deals are done behind closed doors,” said Zepeda, a former teacher, adding: “Google hasn’t even broken ground and it’s already causing displacement.”

Franco-Clausen, a former state legislative aide who works for a nonprofit called Silicon Valley FACES, echoed those concerns about affordable housing and called on Google to incentivize public transit use for employees.

The event, which was moderated by SVO vice president and former Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, touched on progressive points that enlivened the audience but might not play as well with a broad swath D9, which is largely suburban and, though majority Democrat, populated by more registered Republicans than the rest of the city. Among them: LGBTQ rights, transgender bathroom access, keeping corporate money out of politics and whether being a victim of domestic violence should qualify someone for public housing.

All five candidates supported that last proposal to make abuse victims a protected class. And all but one swore off donations from, developers, political action committees and special interests. Foley said she’s proud to be endorsed by the SVO (formerly called the San Jose-Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce).

Franco-Clausen touted her progressive backing and South Bay Labor Council endorsement. And in response to an audience question about whether she supports gay rights, noted that she’s the first out lesbian to run for city office in San Jose.

“I’m the ‘L’ of the LGBTQ,” she quipped.

Though she said she has “no platform because it should be your platform,” the mother of five has a compelling personal story. And when a woman in the audience asked how well she’d serve the district if she only recently moved there from Sunnyvale, Franco-Clausen clearly relished the chance to share it.

The short answer, she said: homophobia. She and her wife, a local cop, submitted 40 applications before they found a landlord willing to rent to them. And by that time, their apartment search had taken them from south San Jose to Sunnyvale.

“This is something you face on the regular, even when being a coach,” she said. “But as soon as the opportunity came, I moved back into the place I call home.”

Though time constraints prevented the candidates from offering much in the way of detail on policy, a few pitched some interesting ideas.

Gallagher said he’d hire an experienced community organizer to build up neighborhood associations, which are relatively few and far between in D9. He also suggested cracking down on porch pirates by planting GPS trackers on packages. And to address displacement, Zepeda said she’d like to prevent Chinese buyers from snatching up local homes in all-cash buys.

As for district-specific issues, all the candidates criticized plans to turn the aging Cambrian Park Plaza shopping center into an urban village. Zepeda said she’s opposed to urban villages anywhere in the city, which raised some eyebrows.

Gallagher and Franco-Clausen said they’d like to slow things down to include more community input. Foley called the proposal from Weingarten Realty to redevelop the mid-century strip mall “controversial” and the “wrong plan for the community.” Siddique agreed, saying the hundreds of town homes and 109,000 square feet of retail would be too dense for an area with inadequate public transit.

The candidates had little chance to engage each other—that’s slated to happen at a debate next month. But the event let them air their views and make their case for a club endorsement, which went to Franco-Clausen.

Santa Clara County’s Democratic Central Committee (DCC), however, won’t announce its pick until April 5. That endorsement carries more weight because it means the DCC can spend money on behalf of its preferred candidate.

The D9 seat, which opens up as Councilman Don Rocha terms out, is one of a few contested races in San Jose. The others are in District 7, where Councilman Tam Nguyen faces a handful of challengers, and Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco’s District 5.

Top row, from left: Madison Nguyen, Shay Franco-Clausen, Pam Foley and Kalen Gallagher. Bottom row, from left: Scott Nelson, Sabuhi Siddique and Rosie Zepeda.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the News Editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

41 Comments

    • Robert- I’ve seen lots of signs for candidates where they don’t belong. Call their campaign headquarters, or the Code Enforcement and ask them to remove them.

      • Call Pierre Luigi…. He will proudly remove all illegal signs anywhere anytime! Oh! Also you can use Rose Herrera’s husband, he will remove signs for you too! He will even haul them to a nearby shopping center dumpster during late evening hours, so as not to disturb anyone.

  1. South Bay Labor made a stupid, stupid mistake endorsing Shay over Kalen Gallagher. Shay’s candidate site suggests her highest level of education is an AS from 2015 (She includes this under her “awards and recognitions,” which I’m not sure is how I’d characterize a diploma personally) and describes her current job (the only work experience she references) thus: “Working for Silicon Valley FACES, as the Director of Development and Government Relations, the work we do to addresses bullying, conflict management, restorative practices, gender bias and bigotry, is another way to provide our youth with safe spaces to express themselves and listen to understand how I can serve them.” That’s a whole lot of BS packed into one sentence, but the way it ends is very telling. Anyway, my understanding is that a government relations professional is akin to a lobbyist, which makes sense for her given that her background is in political affairs (she makes no mention of the fact that she ran Ash Kalra’s campaign for assembly).

    It would be great to see another LGBTQ Councilmember when we haven’t had one in such a while, but I feel like she is making her identity the main plank of her platform because she lacks the sort of background and experience that would prepare her to make the decisions of a Councilmember. Gallagher is running on the strength of his ideas and resume (not to mention the name recognition he’s accumulated as a school board member), and has a history of involvement with progressive causes. I can guarantee you that the other candidates would rather face Shay in the run-off than Kalen, and every victory that Shay achieves is a win for SVO (and Pam Foley, who is likely to face either Shay or Kalen in the run-off).

    • It was not covered in the article, but Shay did say she is on Ash’s campaign staff during this panel.

    • What a Shayme- “Working for Silicon Valley FACES, as the Director of Development and Government Relations, the work we do to addresses bullying, conflict management, restorative practices, gender bias and bigotry, is another way to provide our youth with safe spaces to express themselves and listen to understand how I can serve them.” That’s a whole lot of BS packed into one sentence, but the way it ends is very telling.”

      LOL! What a catty remark coming from someone who knows nothing about the program Shay runs. I attended Camp Everytown on several occasions. I even helped sponsor two kids myself because the program does exactly what it claims to do. Given your ignorance of the program, you might want to enroll yourself in it. Sounds like you could use it…..

      • Maybe she should explain it better. Learning from your comment that they operate a camp is more than I learned from reading her bio.

        • Shaymeful- Try giving her a call and talk to her. She’ll give you all the 411 you need. You might try changing your name on here too because it just shows me the contempt you have for her, and what a closed mind you have towards her as a candidate.

          • WHAT A SHAYME –
            It seems to me that you are more interested in trashing a particular candidate than paying attention to the issues facing District 9 and the City of San Jose that these candidates take. You characterize “the work we do to addresses bullying, conflict management, restorative practices, gender bias and bigotry, is another way to provide our youth with safe spaces to express themselves and listen to understand how I can serve them” as BS. You think work on bullying, conflict management, gender bias and bigotry is BS? Respectfully, that says more about you than it does anyone else.

          • CHRISTIAN –

            Anyone can “address” an issue or a series of issues, but Shay offers no explanation on how she actually alleviates or solves these problems.

            What is she actually DOING to “address” those issues? She offers no concretes, her only elaboration is that she is creating safe spaces and getting kids to listen to her.

            Bullying, racial bias, etc. are not BS issues, but saying that your job is addressing these issues as another way of getting kids to listen to understand how you can help them is BS. If her job is to get kids to understand how she can help them, why doesn’t she just say how she helps them, instead of using such vague language?

            If you asked someone what they do for a living, and they say “I do work addressing important issues as another way of creating safe spaces and getting kids to listen to how I can help them,” would you be any closer to knowing what they do for a living? If she organizes workshops, she can say she organizes workshops, if she lobbies the gov’t (which is what a typical gov’t relations professional does) she can say she lobbies the gov’t on these issues, but she says she helps kids by getting them to understand how she can help them.

  2. “The short answer, she said: homophobia. She and her wife, a Palo Alto cop, submitted 40 applications before they found a landlord willing to rent to them. And by that time, their apartment search had taken them from south San Jose to Sunnyvale.” What a load of BS. Being gay is such a non-factor when selecting a tenant around here. Seriously, 39 prospective landlords turned you down because you were gay? How did they even know you are gay? The only thing a landlord cares about is your income, your credit worthiness, and being a responsible renter. If this is what you are hanging your hat on that is pathetic.

    • >Being gay is such a non-factor when selecting a tenant around here.

      Not to mention gays bring property values up, not down.

      • I heard they have great fashion sense! I often advertise that I will rent to gays at a discount!

  3. Interesting….
    So the other candidate’s buddies have decided to come on SJI and bash Shay. Dirty politics at its finest! People who know nothing about Shay, voicing their ignorant opinions. Well, I’ve known and worked in the community with Shay long before she decided to run for office, and I am continuing to work with her on community issues now.

    I’ve known Shay for almost 20 years. We were neighbors for many years. She was a good neighbor, and is a great mother. I support her 100%, and I’ve endorsed her. Instead of bashing her, why don’t you sit down face to face with her, and get to know her? Instead of bad mouthing her, listen to her personal stories, and respect the struggles she’s overcome to get where she is today.

    And YES, landlords do still discriminate against gay couples. Do your research. If it wasn’t still happening, there wouldn’t be so many complaints being filed with the Net Work for a Hate Free Community, and other government agencies.

    Shay has worked in this community for decades. She’s also worked with government officials on vital issues that none of these other candidates have. That’s one of the reasons she got involved in and ran a very successful campaign for Assembly Member Ash Kalra, who ran against our former Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, who had millions behind her!

    Shay’s work more than qualifies her to serve this District more than any school board member, who just uses that office to run for an office in government. The schools are mess, and so are their budgets. So why would I vote for any school board member who can’t even help balance a school budget?

    Kids and teachers are going without a lot of things they need, and these school board candidates haven’t done anything to change things for the better. We have kids walking to and from school without crossing guards, while people drive like lunatics! I don’t see any of these school board candidates at City Hall lobbying the City for more money for crossing guards to keep our kids safe!

    And while we’re at it, the job Shay does at Silicon Valley Faces is important to our youth. Try looking into the program before you belittle its vitality, and success in prejudice reduction in our schools.

    As for Pam Foley, she’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. She’s all for helping developers and big business get what they want, regardless of what the community wants. She talks out of both sides of her mouth. She ran for this office before and lost. That should tell you something about how our neighborhood feels about her. Follow the money people, and the endorsements. Foley’s says it all.

    • Yes, dismiss my opinion because I’m a candidate’s “buddy” when you have no idea who I am or my relationship to any of the candidates. And then admit you are Shay’s buddy.

      I’m opinionated, but my opinions are based on my own reasoning rather than personal affiliation. I tried to offer those reasons, and strangers who don’t know either candidate can consider my reasons. You attack Pam as a tool of developers and offer no explanation. You claim that you know how the “neighborhood feels about her” because she “ran for this office before and lost,” which is beyond misleading and simply false, as she declined to run before ballots were drawn:
      http://www.sanjoseinside.com/2009/08/18/foley_drops_out_of_district_9_race/
      http://www.smartvoter.org/2010/06/08/ca/scl/race/5209/

      I would have a lot more respect for Shay’s position with Silicon Valley FACES (notice I’m not saying I don’t respect the org itself) if she could articulate what they do and her role with them in a meaningful way. But if it comes down to creating “safe spaces” and getting kids to “listen to understand how [Shay] can serve them,” that’s not something that qualifies someone to lead the 10th largest city in America.

      Pam Foley and Kalen Gallagher both have public records that they can run on as a result of their school board experience. Voters can look at what ideas they’ve put forward and how well they’ve worked with their colleagues. You can dismiss the work of school boards, but they have both made hard decisions in situations where it was impossible to please everyone. I have done enough research to personally believe that they are both impressive. If you want to attack them for not lobbying the City for more crossing guards, that can potentially be a legitimate criticism, but Shay has not even opened herself up to the potential of similar criticism because she has never held the responsibilities of a publicly accountable official.

      • SHAYME *ring* SHAYME *ring* SHAYME *ring* – Your sign in name and the comments you made regarding Shay says it all, so yeah, I’m going to dismiss them as ignorant prejudice.
        At least I have the integrity to admit that I support Shay and why, and I post my name, not some idiotic rude condescending sign in name like SHAYME *ring* SHAYME *ring* SHAYME *ring*. Unlike you, I have done my research and reached out to the candidates. Kalen Gallagher, and the two others didn’t respond. Sabuhi Siddique and I met and talked. She’s a very nice lady.

        Attacking Foley, I don’t think so. Telling it like is is more like it. She avoided getting involved in stopping a proposed 5 car stackable automated car wash 167 feet from Farnham Elementary School. Both Shay and Sabuhi Siddique came out and looked at the situation and took a public stand against the car wash. We won and defeated this idiotic project and they helped us win. That’s more than I can say for Foley who said, “I’m not coming out there because Shay will be there.” Hum… I guess she doesn’t get the concept of “Principles before personalities.” I guess the safety of these kids walking to and from school with a 5 car stackable automated car wash dumping cars into the direct path of where they would be walking was less important to her than her ego, and her hatred of a fellow candidate.

        You said,” You attack Pam as a tool of developers and offer no explanation.” I guess follow the money, and endorsements escaped your attention. And YES, I know how my neighborhood feels about Foley. I lived here for going on 21 years, and have been involved in my community. Have you?

        You said, “I would have a lot more respect for Shay’s position with Silicon Valley FACES (notice I’m not saying I don’t respect the org itself) if she could articulate what they do and her role with them in a meaningful way.” Since you’re so unhappy with her campaign, and you think you know how to run it better, go volunteer for her, or talk to her about it, but don’t come on a public blog and bash her with ignorant commentary.

        Foley deletes any comments she does not like on her FB page, and deletes any questions you ask her if she doesn’t want to answer them, so imagine her as our new Council Member. No thanks, I’ll pass.

        You said,” Pam Foley and Kalen Gallagher both have public records that they can run on as a result of their school board experience. Voters can look at what ideas they’ve put forward and how well they’ve worked with their colleagues. You can dismiss the work of school boards, but they have both made hard decisions in situations where it was impossible to please everyone. I have done enough research to personally believe that they are both impressive. If you want to attack them for not lobbying the City for more crossing guards, that can potentially be a legitimate criticism, but Shay has not even opened herself up to the potential of similar criticism because she has never held the responsibilities of a publicly accountable official.”

        I call BS on that. If they are doing such a great job, then why are the parents, kids, and teachers going without so much? Why are schools closing because their budgets aren’t giving our schools what they need? Why are kids getting hit and killed walking to and from school because they aren’t getting crossing guards funded? You call that impressive? Wow.

        You said, “If you want to attack them for not lobbying the City for more crossing guards, that can potentially be a legitimate criticism, but Shay has not even opened herself up to the potential of similar criticism because she has never held the responsibilities of a publicly accountable official.”

        I’d have to disagree with you on that. Shay has been very involved in County and City politics and has been criticized. Your comments are a great example of that.

        • Carl, I think this conversation has run its course.

          I’m sorry if my sign-in names offended you. They brought me some personal amusement. I’m also sorry if my criticism of Shay came off as overly personal. She is a public figure and is putting herself before the public to be judged. I am overly opinionated, no doubt about it, but democracy requires us to have opinions and to participate.

          I now realize I have not said this explicitly, so let me state for the record that I’m not affiliated with Pam Foley or her campaign consultant. I’m pretty much just some guy!

          Next time, I challenge you to defend your preferred candidate without leveling accusations of prejudice or nefarious activity on the part of your preferred candidate’s opponents. I will challenge myself to be less idiotic and rude and condescending.

          • Walk of Shayme – “Next time, I challenge you to defend your preferred candidate without leveling accusations of prejudice or nefarious activity on the part of your preferred candidate’s opponents.” We can agree to disagree that. I was not leveling accusations of prejudice or nefarious activity on the part of my preferred candidate’s opponents. Everything I said was based on sheer facts and my personal experiences with them.

            I called you on doing the very thing you are accusing me of, and I make no apologies for expressing my opinion on your rude and ignorant commentary. Like I said, I’ve done my research, and your comments prove that you haven’t.

            People working on campaigns always come out of the woodwork during election time and do exactly what you and others on here are dong, and it’s offensive and sickening. I’m disgusted that you find it amusing to hurt a decent person’s reputation for entertainment.

            Let’s just stick with the facts, focus on what the candidate’s stands on the issues are, stop the bashing, and nit picking every little petty thing you find amusing. People need to meet the candidates, talk to them, and then base their decisions on that, not gossip or dirty politics.

            I am going to close by thanking everyone running for office, whether I like them or not, because it takes a lot of time, money, and sacrifice to run a campaign. I’ve worked on a lot of campaigns and I know what goes into it. So thank you to ALL the candidates for running.

          • I really was trying to walk away from this conversation, but I can’t help but point out how hypocritical it is for you to play the victim card when someone criticizes your candidate, when your default response to that criticism was to make ad hominem attacks on another candidate.

      • SHAYME *RING* SHAYME *RING* SHAYME *RING* :
        “But if it comes down to creating “safe spaces” and getting kids to “listen to understand how [Shay] can serve them,” that’s not something that qualifies someone to lead the 10th largest city in America.”
        I would disagree. I would ask the candidates what initiatives and ideas have they brought to our City? Shay has a job that requires her to teach youth skills that will help them throughout their lifetime. She handles the budget for her program, and collaborates with other people/organizations in our community to accomplish her program goals.

        Other than sitting on a board, and working with and largely following the recommendations of the District Superintendent to run the school district, what initiatives and ideas have Foley and Gallagher brought to our community? When a 5 car stackable car wash exiting on Woodard Road in the direct path of Farnham School Children walking to and from school was proposed in our neighborhood, we did not hear from Mr. Gallagher, and Ms. Foley never came out to see what was going on, and never spoke to us about her position or her concerns on this development. Shay on the other hand came out twice, and spoke to us and school parents about responsible development, that takes into account the safety of our school children.

        Yes, I am proudly supporting Shay.

    • I’m not bashing. Just saying, she needs to follow campaign sign laws.

      BTW Observation and I are regulars here. Not sure who “IT’S A SHAYME” is but he’s on point. I wouldn’t vote for anyone that claims being a victim in any sense of the word. Shows weakness as a candidate, and would probably be even weaker as a councilmember. At least 1/2 of these candidates are playing some kind of victim card, be it race, sexuality, or gender.

      Foley you’re right on. She’s out. No thank you.

      About the only person I actually like out of this group is Kalen. Unlike Rocha who only served 1.5 years on the school board before quitting to become a councilmember, he’s been there 5 years. Not that I got anything against Rocha’s early resignation from that post, but I’ve talked to a few school board members from that time that were upset that, in their words, “Only used the post as a stepping stone to a higher office.” Kalen seems to be the safest bet if I’m looking for someone that’s done their time, done it well, and is ready for the next phase in their role of leadership.

      • Robert Cortese- I didn’t say you were bashing Shay because you weren’t. You brought up a legitimate concern about campaign signs, and I simply told you where to report it.

        Shay isn’t playing the victim. If telling her story is a sign of weakness, then half or more of the public is too. Many of us can relate to that kind of honesty, and prejudice. I’ve known and worked with her for 20 years, and Shay is a tough, undeterred lady. She fights for what she believes in, and unlike the other candidates, she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty in the trenches.

        This Kalen guy, ignored my attempts to get to know and meet with him. That tells me what kind of Council Member he’d be. No thanks.

        BTW- Thanks for staying involved in our community Robert. You’re a pretty good egg!

    • Well said, Carl. I am definitely getting the feeling that the Shay bashing is over-the-top and questionable.

      • A Real Cambrian Park Resident- The other candidates feel threatened so they’re out in force. None of them get the concept that the only thing the voters want is to know where the candidates stand on issues, and who is dumping money into their campaigns.

        I for one have done my research, and I’m sick to death of school board members using that office to win elections they are running for. They need to get out here in the “real world” with the rest of us.

    • “If it wasn’t still happening, there wouldn’t be so many complaints being filed with the Net Work for a Hate Free Community, and other government agencies.” Very few gay people are discriminated against when it comes to housing around here. The problem is people don’t want to assume responsibility for some other reasons (credit, bad references etc), then cry they are being discriminated against. And I have tons of gay and lesbian friends around here, and that has never been an issue for them….

      • Observation- I don’t disagree that there are other factors that contribute to why a landlord picks one renter over another, but I disagree that discrimination is not alive and well. Shay is also a person of color and yeah, they are discriminated against.

  4. We’re doomed.

    If you stand on your toes and squint toward the horizon, I think you can see the end of civilization.

    Destroy your files. Destroy your codebooks. Take all your cash and gold and ammo and a three day supply of food and head for the hills.

  5. “Gallagher, a teacher-turned-startup entrepreneur and five-year Campbell Union High School District trustee..”

    How can Gallagher be on the Campbell Union High School District and live in D9?

  6. Pam Foley is buds with Chuck Reed, big business and big real estate. This should explain it all. Same old politics. We need change.

    I don’t vote based on someones sexual orientation or race. I tend not to vote for someone that uses this point in their campaign platform.

    • Just Anon For Now- Thanks for the reality check. I agree. She’s also using Reed’s campaign consultant. That explains all the dirty politics and Shay bashing on here.

  7. > Silicon Valley FACES
    . . . .

    > As always, our mission to build communities free of bias, bigotry, bullying, and violence is at the core of all we do, and we plan to grow and shape our programs to evolve with the needs of the many “faces” of Silicon Valley.

    . . . .

    > Also brand new this fall, FACES launched conflict management courses tailored to law enforcement personnel in an effort to avert problems before they happen.

    Perhaps it’s time for a little “mansplaining”:

    “build communities” is just tribal-speak for reminding people of their “tribal identity”.

    “bias, bigotry, bullying, and violence” is what tribalists experience when they try to steal someone else’s private property, poach in someone else’s garden or orchard, rustle cattle, steal horses, shoplift, commit credit card fraud, or grift off of the taxpayer. Or, provoke “law enforcement personnel”.

    • SAN JOSE OUTSIDE THE BUBBLE- You might want to go visit this place and see what this program does for our youth. Law enforcement has always participated in this program. I think it is a great way to educate our youth on all the things they need to learn. Like I said, I helped sponsor two kids to go. It was well worth it.

      • > You might want to go visit this place and see what this program does for our youth.

        CARL:

        Before I schedule my visit, could you tell me what “community” your group is trying to build up?

        Also, who is your group accusing of perpetrating “bias, bigotry, bullying, and violence”?

  8. SAN JOSE OUTSIDE THE BUBBLE-

    It’s not my group. I was on the MLK Board when I found out about SVF and Camp Everytown. I went for a visit a few times over the years, and found the training they are giving these kids to be important considering all the bullying, prejudice, and discrimination against one another in schools, on the internet, and law enforcement.

    “Who is your group accusing of perpetrating “bias, bigotry, bullying, and violence?’
    Kids at school treating each other badly, and it gives them a better idea of what challenges law enforcement faces.

    I hope you do visit Camp Everytown. It is educational and life changing for young adults, and for we visitors too.

    Shay runs that program and does it well.

    • > Kids at school treating each other badly,

      Why not just have the kids’ parents teach them to treat other people nicely and respectfully.

      Also, encourage them to go to Sunday school and learn morality and the Golden Rule.

      I understand that every major religion espouses some variation of the Golden Rule.

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