Story of the Week: District 8 City Council Race Approaches $1 Million in Spending

Thursday marked the last filing deadline for campaign disclosure forms and independent committee expenditures before the Nov. 6 election. This means the next 11 days will feature a flurry of campaign spending, the details of which won’t be known until after people go to the polls.

One thing that can be said for certain, though, is that the District 8 City Council race between Rose Herrera and Jimmy Nguyen is costing major money. How much? More than $700,000 so far on the primary and runoff, and it could approach $1 million by the time the election is held. City Clerk Dennis Hawkins couldn’t be absolutely certain—insert a library joke here—but he said this could be the most expensive City Council race in San Jose’s history.

“Aside form a mayor’s race, obviously that’s a bigger race, I don’t recall any council races that had this much spending or activity,” said Hawkins, who has been City Clerk two years, worked in the office for six years and been with the city for almost 19 years.

Looking at money spent by both campaigns, as well as independent expenditures supporting and opposing both candidates, more than more than $700,000 has gone into the race as of Thursday, Oct. 25. This doesn’t even include spending by, for and against Patricia Martinez-Roach, who came in third in June’s District 8 primary.

Herrera’s personal campaign, Re-elect Rose Herrera for City Council 2012, has spent $190,304.15 this year. Her campaign recorded a cash balance of $67,207.81, according to filing on Oct. 24, so that expenses total should only increase.

Jimmy Nguyen’s personal campaign, Vote Jimmy Nguyen City Council 2012, has spent $66,212.07 this year, as of Oct. 25, and it has a cash balance of $14,260.13.

However, the real money in the race comes from political action committees (PACs). The following is a list of PACs and how they have spent money to influence the District 8 City Council race:

San Jose Reform Committee Supporting Rose Herrera for City Council 2012 has spent $117,835.53 this year, and has a cash balance of $50,142.02. The state watchdog Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) could find that some of this money was illegally transferred from Mayor Chuck Reed’s PAC, which supported Measure B in the primary, and fines could be handed out. By then, however, the race could already be decided.

— The San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee (ChamberPAC) spent $ 76,079.51 to support Herrera through Oct. 25, not including an Oct. 22 mailer that cost $9.809.36, according to a late independent expenditure report.

— The Santa Clara County Government Attorneys’ Association PAC opposed Herrera by spending $59,198.23 and supported Nguyen at a cost of $3,543.50.

— The South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council Committee on Political Education Sponsored by South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council has spent $6,557.82 to support Nguyen as of Oct. 25, according to a late independent expenditure report.

— The Association of Retired San Jose Police Officers and Firefighters Political Action Committee spent $20,000 on an Oct. 13 mailer supporting Nguyen.

— The San Jose Police Officers Association PAC, which has yet to file disclosure forms since August, according to the City Clerk’s online database, spent $54,648.71 to oppose Herrera in the primary.

— The San Jose Firefighters, IAFF Local 230 Political Action Committee has spent $7,000 to support Nguyen after the primary, because at that time it supported Martinez-Roach. The PAC also spent $53,425.88 to oppose Herrera in the primary.

— A group called Committee for Safe San Jose Neighborhoods - Support Nguyen for City Council 2012, a coalition of local police officers & firefighters, prosecutors, architects, engineers, registered nurses, taxpayers has spent $14,720.79 to support Nguyen. (Worth noting, the group received $45,000 from the Registered Nurses Professional Association Political Action Committee.)

This probably isn’t a complete list, so please feel free to note if we left off a PAC and any dollar amounts.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. Well, we know that $100,000.00 was illegally funneled to Rose Herrera by Mayor Reed’s Measure B fundraising Committee. And even though they have been ordered to return the money, they will benefit from it’s use until such time as they pay it back. Perhaos the good citizens of District 8 should vote for Mr. Nguyen just on principle alone. Plus, some new blood on the council may be a good idea right about now.

    • Or even half that much to know that Nguyen is woefully inadequate as the alternate choice.

      Come on SJPD if you put half as much effort into finding an actual candidate that D8 residents could support and get behind rather than offering up two (first the ridiculous Martinez-Roach and now the too green Nguyen) as the option to Herrera.  My guess is voters don’t particularly like Herrera all that much, she’s never been a public council darling but for goodness sake give voters a reasonable option!  All that money spent on mailers should be used to develop and actual leader in D8.  Where are all the leaders from D8 hiding? Are they so buried in tech companies that they have no interest in what happens citywide?

      SJPD run one of your own.  So many cops have retired (isn’t the last count 350 by your numbers?) so run one to protect your interests and look out for SJ residents.  While you’re at it, run a retired cop in D5 too.  I’d take a retired police officer over Councilmember Gump (I mean Campos) who has the Shirakawa stink all over him.