The Silicon Valley Organization—formerly known as the San Jose-Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce—passed over one of its own employees to endorse Pierluigi Oliverio in the race for the District 4 seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
Oliverio, who spent a decade on San Jose’s City Council before terming out in 2016, is running against four other candidates to succeed Supervisor Ken Yeager when he terms out at the end of the year.
“Throughout his public service, Pierluigi has demonstrated a leadership style that includes listening to all sides, thoughtful policy deliberations, prioritizing neighborhood services, championed fiscal responsibility and transparency in local government,” The SVO noted in a press release on Thursday. “For these reasons, Pierluigi has earned SVO PAC’s sole endorsement.”
The former Willow Glen councilman said he’s honored by the distinction.
“I’m proud to be endorsed by an organization that recognizes my fiscal pragmatism,” Oliverio said. “I believe they selected me because of my consistency, because I don’t try to represent myself differently to different groups of people. … All the other candidates in the race were seeking the labor endorsement, and I did not.”
Fellow candidate Susan Ellenberg—a San Jose Unified trustee who works for the SVO as a senior director of community development—called her employer’s decision a letdown and said it reflects a deeper cultural problem at the organization.
“Today’s endorsement is in no way a reflection on my work at the SVO Foundation,” Ellenberg said in a prepared statement before the SVO announced its preferred candidate. “It does demonstrate, however, that there are still some who do not share the vision I believe in, and are more interested in the policies of the past: low minimum wages, lack of affordable housing, and a divisive ‘us versus them’ attitude between workers and employers. My opponent shares that outdated vision; I do not.”
Oliverio shrugged off the criticism, saying he’s going to double down on his campaign and on prioritizing what he calls the county’s primary responsibility: to care for people with mental illness.
“At the end of the day, I’m focused on caring for the severely mentally ill to reduce homelessness and to free up police officers’ time,” he said. “I’m very focused on being efficient with taxpayer dollars so that we could care for the seriously mentally ill instead of only talking about it when there’s a mass shooting.”
Ellenberg and Oliverio are running against Santa Clara Councilman Dominic Caserta, San Jose Councilman Don Rocha and former Campbell Mayor Jason Baker—all of whom have collectively raised more than $1 million so far.
The South Bay Labor Council gave a dual endorsement in the race to Rocha and Caserta.
The SVO on Thursday also announced its endorsements in two San Jose council races: Thomas Duong in District 7 and Pam Foley in District 9.