Mayoral Fireworks on Fireworks

The mayor's race is on, so of course there are going to be fireworks. But the latest tiff in San Jose's quadrennial contest actually involves fireworks.

Earlier this week, county Supervisor and aspiring mayor Dave Cortese sent out a bubbly press release applauding his colleagues on the county Board of Supervisors for approving his motion to shell out $70,000 of county money for a city-sponsored 4th of July celebration. Budget cuts nixed fireworks from the main event six years ago. Cortese noted that some $20,000 of the county's money would pay for a campaign to tell the public they're doing it wrong and promote safety.

But the announcement trumpeting Cortese’s win paints an incomplete picture, according to Carl Salas, president of the Rotary Club.

Apparently the Rotary Club of San Jose played an important part in trying to revive the once-annual holiday display and brought up the idea to Cortese's opponent in the mayor's race, Councilman Sam Liccardo, who declined to comment, and Supervisor Cindy Chavez. In fact, the money from the county covers only part of the cost for a fireworks show, with the rest expected to come from the city and corporate sponsors, contrarian rotarians argue.

"In the end, I don't care who takes the credit, as long as we get our fireworks back," Salas said.

Cortese didn't know the backstory before he made his announcement, according to his communications manager Janice Rombeck.

"When Dave moved the idea of the county's share of sponsoring fireworks forward he wasn’t sure of Rotary’s actual level of commitment, nevertheless he acknowledged their interest publicly more than once," she said. "As a 27-year Rotarian himself, Dave is grateful for Rotary's partnership and hopeful enough money can be raised to make this event happen for the community."

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


  1. People definitely want fireworks back. It smells like Cortese knows how to jump in front of a parade that’s already going, but that’s part of being a politician. Also, there has been a noticeable growth here in dangerous private fireworks displays, but that may be a national trend.

  2. I’m going to make up a “fireworks show” indicator for the economy. When Oakland and Stockton bring back fireworks, it’s time to sell you home and all your stocks.

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