San Jose’s three City Council races couldn’t have been more lopsided by bedtime, with Tam Nguyen snagging the Little Saigon vote to lead Maya Esparza, Charles "Chappie" Jones ripping up Paul Fong's carpetbag, and policeman Raul Peralez saving the keester of organized labor and the police union by trouncing Don Gagliardi to avoid the sweep.
Peralez celebrated his early lead in the District 3 race from his campaign headquarters, while supporters began to trickle into Mezcal for a catered dinner and margaritas. The high-end Mexican joint, still decorated for Dia de los Muertos, was plastered with Peralez’s blue campaign signs. Servers walked around dishing up chicken taquitos, sea bass ceviche and cheese quesadillas while everyone waited (for more than an hour) for the man of the hour to make an appearance. Results flashed on the projector showed a 15-percentage point lead over Gagliardi. (Returns as of 2:20am has him up more than 17 points.)
“What’s going to separate Raul is how hard he beat the streets,” remarked Mauricio Mejia, who endorsed him after a failed bid for the same seat in June’s primary election. Peralez relied a lot on his family, one of his uncles noted. One of his 15-year-old nieces dialed 5,000 phone numbers. His mom, who was out bright and early waving campaign signs, wore a sweatshirt emblazoned with her son’s name.
Chappie Jones, holding his bash at the Winchester Mystery Mansion, sounded a bit shocked with the first returns indicating the race was his. “I thought it was going to be a nailbiter," Jones said. "I had to look at the results three times.”
He said he chose the mansion because of its exceptional wine and beer courtyard. "The mood definitely went up after the first returns," he joked.
Nguyen, perhaps the biggest surprise from the June primary, held a 7-percent lead over Esparza by the end of the night, with 37 out of 40 precincts reported.