District 10 Cattle Call

Redevelopment Agency director Harry Mavrogenes might be quitting the broke-ass agency—hey, four decades is enough to ask of anybody in this town—but he’s not planning to fade into the sunset and paint water colors. That’s what his one-time boss Frank Taylor did. Or live on a boat in the Caribbean on the San Jose tax money she escaped with, as predecessor Susan Schick did. Maybe he’s a glutton for punishment, but the Mavster will be staying involved in local public affairs.

On Monday, he’ll participate in San Jose Stage’s vicious political satire production, Monday Night Live. Last year he was taken to a garbage dump for a Pulp Fiction-style execution in a video screened at MNL.

And, get this, he says he’s been encouraged to run for Nancy Pyle’s termed-out District 10 council seat next year and is “considering it.” Just when we thought we were hearing things, Mavrogenes repeated himself, saying he was “thinking about it.” (Memo to trial ballooners: good strategy to get ink is to repeat key point twice or more within earshot of journalist at social function.)

Financial advisor Johnny Khamis is the only person who has come right out and filed papers with the city clerk, but a flock of other candidates are swarming to join the fight over District 10 dominion. Claude Fletcher, a councilmember and failed mayoral candidate back during the Reagan administration, is considering leaving his post as chancellor of Valley Christian High School for a return to politics. Evangelical activist school board member Leslie Reynolds is also expected to join the fray. And former council aide Edisa Bitbadal will likely try to parlay the exceptional wisdom she gained while working for former boss Kansen Chu.

But only one other mentioned candidate comes close to knowing how to play the political game as well as Sega Mavrogenesis—former top cop Rob Davis. If the recently retired police chief decides to run, he might not even have to raise campaign funds after all the money he cashed out in sick leave.

UPDATE: Add Robert Braunstein, who runs Cal-Hi Sports and is a long-time Almaden resident, to the list of people seriously considering a run for the D-10 seat. He should find out soon enough that similar to sports, politics don’t build character, they reveal it.

The Fly is the valley’s longest running political column, written by Metro Silicon Valley staff, to provide a behind-the-scenes look at local politics. Fly accepts anonymous tips.


  1. Wow a political runoff between Harry, Rob and Evangelical Christians  

    Does that mean that THE big issue will be Pete Constant’s porn filters in libraries

    Who will politically tone deaf Mayor Reed give a big political kiss of death to by supporting former Redevelopment Manager, Mormon Police Chief or another Onward Christian Soldiers “Library Porn Filter” Evangelical Christian candidate

    Will we have a replay of Chuck vs Cindy in the fight over who wins and gets City Hall political spoils

    Let the political fireworks begin in liberal San Jose with next year’s 11th budget crisis, more layoffs and service cuts

    Could be more fun political soap opera than the Republican Presidential Mormon, Tea Party, Has Been, and Want-a-be’s politician runoff

  2. Former Chief of Police Davis, is worse that Pete Constant,  suppose he will ask for a disability retirement as well.  Since his ass sat on his chair for so long and did nothing but improve the department or his fat retirement check.  He left the PD is in shame.

  3. We put all the blame on unions and this people are leaving with HUGE payouts. Shame on you city council to layoff hard working city employees /  God bless you when you family is in danger and no officer is able to repond.  Sure the gang bangers love it.

    You voted for it good luck.

  4. Not a lot of Spanish speaking voters in District 10, maybe Rob Davis should work on his twisted English they same way the city council does.

  5. Sounds like there aren’t any real progressives in the race. The real secret is that the 10th has a 6 point DEM advantage, so there should be more progressives running. (yes I know its a non-partisan race, I’m just sayin)
      I think its a mistake to assume that only republicans/moderates can win the district.

  6. D10 is the one district where a moderate/conservative can usually get elected.  The neighborhoods usually want someone who is business oriented in terms of “get ‘er done” management and keep the streets paved, streetlights on, parks open and libraries stocked.  There’s no appeal to redevelopment or ethnic based projects or promises, though there is growing clout in some ethnic communities in the district such as Indian-Americans who made a huge difference for Pyle.

    As with all council races, a candidate needs a measure of credibility usually established by work in the district such as on a community association or with a local school or such.  They also need to bear more than casual scrutiny in terms of personal life as its a certainty that op research will dig up any dark secrets from the past from bankruptcies, divorces, DUI arrests, etc.  Finally, the best candidate will have both extensive “social capital” and access to “hard capital” fundraising.

    A competitive candidate should expect to raise and spend about $40-80 thousand going into the primary and should try to win outright without a run-off.  That’s a winning strategy.  4000 small contributors of $100 each equals the next D10 council member, but most folks can’t pull that off and end up cutting deals with interest groups that pull cash to the campaign throug independent expenditures and “bundled contributions” where a bunch of cash comes from one source but looks like its the legal max from a group of individuals.

    Also, beware of campaigns that loan themselves cash as this translates into influence sold after the election when no one is watching and folks can contribute to help a sitting council member retire campaign debt at the same time they talk about business before the council.

    BTW – Born and raised in Almaden, but just outside the city limits in unincorporated New Almaden, so I’m engaged in but not wholly a part of city politics.

    • That’s some pretty good ‘inside baseball’ BW.
      What can be gleaned from it all?
      How about the responsibility that each voter has to make certain that the election is NOT bought. We ALL have that power when we cast our ballot. No amount of money in the world has the ability to overcome the free choice we have in the voting booth.

      What else?
      Maybe that we should be the MOST skeptical of the candidate who has raised the MOST money. Not dismissive of course- just skeptical. The reflexive impulse of the poorly informed voter is to assume that the most well funded candidate is the most legitimate. Perhaps this logic is 180 degrees out of whack and that by automatically voting for him you’re voting for a guy who will have little likelihood of representing the public’s interests.

      Anything else?
      Maybe that if you’re NOT an informed voter you shouldn’t vote.

      By the way Blair, I always slow to 25 when passing through New Almaden on my way to Mine Hill Rd. Neat little enclave. Long may it retain it’s character.

    • I realized after the fact that my math was way off.  400 x $100 would be 400,000 which is way more than a city council race should cost.  Most spend 40-80 thousand going into the primary and should have at least 10-40 thousand more going into the run-off.

      You can do it on the cheap, but sadly people rate your “electability” based in part on your ability to raise large sums of cash.  Additionally, there is in fact a documented link between getting a contribution and people becoming so committed to your candidacy that they go out of their way to not only vote for you but to get family, friends, neighbors and others to also vote your way.  It’s kinda a psychological thing, so a lot of small donors is actually really, really good.  I’d say 400 $20 donors would be worth more than 40,000 that comes from loans to yourself and a few lumped contributors.

      Good luck, and try walking the neighborhoods a lot and really listening.  Most “high profile” candidates rely on paid and unpaid volunteers to walk precincts and only knock on the doors of likely voters (based on voting records from the registrar of voters which show who votes in off year elections in the past.)  Put the time to knock on every door, and if someone is new to the area, welcome them, offer them a voter registration card, ask them what they like and don’t like about Almaden, and take some notes.  You’ll learn more that way than all the consultants, and other political pros can pretend to sell you at a high price (and be a better representative after the election to boot.)

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