June Primary 2018: Elections to Watch in Santa Clara County

California’s long-awaited primary comes Tuesday.

That means it’s down to the wire for two contested San Jose council races and one open seat, a sought-after place on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and a ballot measure that pits smart-growth advocates against wealthy developers. It’s also a day of reckoning for Sheriff Laurie Smith, who faces her fiercest challenge yet as she seeks an unprecedented sixth term, and for Judge Aaron Persky, the subject of a judicial recall that’s arguably the highest-profile campaign in the history of South Bay politics.

San Jose Races

In San Jose, the District 9 City Council race is certainly one to watch. With Councilman Don Rocha terming out, it’s the city’s only open seat and has drawn a crowded field of would-be successors: Shay Franco-Clausen, Pam Foley, Kalen Gallagher, Rosie Zepeda, Sabuhi Siddique and Scott Nelson.

In terms of who drew support from the region’s two de facto political parties, business and labor, there’s Franco-Clausen with the South Bay Labor Council endorsement and Foley who’s backed by the Silicon Valley Organization (formerly known as the San Jose-Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce).

Only three times in San Jose history has an incumbent lost re-election, according to City Clerk Toni Taber. There was Councilman Claude Fletcher in 1984, Manh Nguyen in 2016 and Xavier Campos in 2014. But there’s now a chance it could happen a fourth time in San Jose’s District 7.

Councilman Tam Nguyen is going to have a tough time hanging on to his D7 seat with the Vietnamese vote split among SVO fave Thomas Duong, Chris Le and Van Le. Nguyen may very well be in for a November re-match against Maya Esparza, who narrowly lost to Nguyen in 2014 and this year enjoys the considerable resources that come with a South Bay Labor endorsement. Also in the running: Omar Vasquez and Jonathan Fleming.

There’s a not-so-heated contest for San Jose mayor, with Sam Liccardo up against a few obscure candidates—that is, Steve Brown, Quangminh Pham and Tyrone Wade—and the city’s District 5, where Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco holds a clear advantage over two challengers Danny Garza and Jennifer Imhoff-Dousharm. In local races, candidates who clear the primary with more than 50 percent of the votes—a pretty likely outcome for Liccardo and Carrasco—get to skip the November runoff.

Santa Clara County Races

Another open South Bay seat that’s drawn a host of candidates is the District 4 spot about to be vacated by county Supervisor Ken Yeager. Its field of seven contenders recently narrowed a bit when Santa Clara Councilman Dominic Caserta suspended his campaign amid revelations that he allegedly sexually harassed high school students and campaign volunteers. But it should be noted that his name will still appear on the ballot.

The six D4 candidates who do remain in the running are: Don Rocha, Susan Ellenberg, Pierluigi Oliverio, Jason Baker, Mike Alvarado and Maria Hernandez. Oliverio’s the SVO pick and Rocha’s the labor favorite.

Some uncontested races on the ballot include those for District Attorney, District 1 County Supervisor, County Assessor, Superior Court Judge and San Jose council districts 1 and 3—in which Jeff Rosen, Mike Wasserman, Larry Stone, Vincent Chiarello, Chappie Jones and Raul Peralez, respectively, automatically win their next terms.

If voters recall Judge Persky, they’ll also have to pick his replacement. The two options are Assistant District Attorney Cindy Hendrickson and lawyer Angela Storey.

State and National Races

In California’s so-called jungle primaries, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the fall ballot. That makes Tuesday’s state and national contests all about the runners-up.

Still, it looks like Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) will face only token opposition in the 17th Congressional District, where the candidates include Democrats Khanh Tran (of Alum Rock Three fame) and Stephen Forbes, Republican Ron Cohen and Libertarian Kennita Watson. Same for Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-San Jose) in the neighboring 18th and Rep. Zoe Lofgren in the 19th. Come November, Eshoo will defend her seat against either Republican Christine Russell or no-party-preference John Fredrich and Lofgren against write-in Republican Justin Aguilera.

In the state Assembly races, there’s Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) in the 24th District who faces Libertarian Bob Goodwyn and Republican Alex Glew. In the 25th Assembly district, it’s Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) versus Libertarian Robert Imhoff (whose wife is running for San Jose council in D7), Republican Bob Brunton and Democrat Carmen Montano. Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) in 27th is running against Republican Gordon Lancaster and Evan Low (D-Campbell) in the 28th against Republican Michael Snyder. In the 29th, which reaches from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties to the southern edge of San Jose, Mark Stone (D-Monterey) faces Republican Vicki Nohdren.

State Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), who’s going to defend his seat from either Libertarian Ali Sarsak or Republican Victor San Vincente in the fall, appears slated for an fairly easy general election contest in the 10th District as well.

Beyond Silicon Valley, candidates are vying to become the next governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, controller, attorney general and insurance commissioner. Also on the ballot are races for the Board of Equalization, U.S. Senate and Congress, state Senate and Assembly and superintendent of public instruction.

One of the most closely watched races in the nation Tuesday is the one for U.S. Senate, in which 26-year incumbent Dianne Feinstein (D-San Francisco) is poised to coast through the primary to face fellow Dem Kevin De Léon as a likely challenger in the fall.

Measures and Bonds

In addition to competing development initiatives in San Jose (Measure B and the city’s response in Measure C), there are a dozen others asking for, among other things, new taxes and infrastructure. Locally, that includes five school bond proposals.

It also includes a charter amendment in Santa Clara on the ballot as Measure A, which would establish two voting districts to replace the city’s at-large system. The measure comes in response to a lawsuit that calls the city’s existing system unfair to minority candidates. But in a December hearing, a judge called the measure “suspect,” according to an editorial in the Mercury News opposing the initiative.

Voters will be asked to weigh in on a Bay Area-wide proposal to raise tolls at seven bridges to pay for 35 infrastructure projects aimed at easing traffic congestion. If nine area counties approve Regional Measure 3, it would up the tolls by $3 in three stages through 2025. Click here to learn more.

More Useful Info

Click here to see the official candidate list and here for the list of local measures. To get a sense of where some of the local candidates stand on certain issues, check out the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s questionnaires here.

Total voter registration in Santa Clara County as of June 1 came to 847,834, according to the Registrar of Voters (ROV). That includes 645,974 permanent mail-in voters and 7,859 who are in the military or overseas.

There are 394,342 Democrats in the county, 154,945 Republicans, 17,593 American Independents, 5,755 Libertarians, 3,451 Greens, 2,160 members of the Peace and Freedom party and 269,588 who list no party preference.

Polls open at 7am. If you’re unsure of where to cast your ballot, look up your assigned polling place by plugging in your address here.

For those who want to memorialize their democratic participation from the voting booth: yes, you can take a #BallotSelfie, thanks to a state law passed in 2016.

Once the polls close at 8pm Tuesday, results will start rolling in on the ROV website, starting with returns from early voting and mailed-in ballots. You can also find them on the ROV’s Twitter and Facebook.

Based on past years, however, all precincts may not report until the early morning hours the following day. Then there are the stragglers. Ballots mailed in on election day won’t arrive until later, which means the final counts may take until at least this weekend.

San Jose Inside will be hitting up as many election watch parties as possible Tuesday night to document the excitement. If there’s an event you’d like us to check out, let us know in the comment section below.

Be sure to also follow us on Twitter and look for our election night roundup on in our next print issue, which hits newsstands Wednesday morning.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Why did you fail to mention D7, and the many people running against Tam Nguyen? This neighborhood has been ignored for far too long, please don’t disenfranchise us further by excluding us from your recap.

  2. I’m just amazed that the incumbent in San Jose district seven was disbarred last year for financial malfeasance. How can he even run?

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