Supervisors Lean Toward Special Election

UPDATE: The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously (4-0) to call for a special election on June 4. A second reading of the matter will take place at next week’s BOS meeting.

County supervisors seem poised to call a special election Tuesday rather than appoint someone to fill the seat of George Shirakawa, who resigned from his supervisor post Friday just hours after being charged with five felonies and seven misdemeanors relating to his misuse of campaign and public funds.

Ken Yeager and Dave Cortese each said they want to hold a special election, while supervisors Mike Wasserman and Joe Simitian both took more cautious approaches to the matter, saying they lean more toward calling a special election but will go into Tuesday morning’s meeting—9am in the Board of Supervisors chambers—with an open mind.

Shirakawa was only two months into his second term when the District Attorney’s Office announced that he had “moved more than $130,000 in and out of campaign accounts and public money accounts” to gamble at casinos in addition to treating himself, friends and family to meals and vacations.

“Given what’s occurred, it’s critical that the residents feel they have a legitimate elected official representing them,” said Yeager, who succeeded Shirakawa as Board president in January. “And I don’t think that would happen with the four sitting supervisors making an appointment.”

Simitian, who returned to the county Board in January after terming out of the State Senate, said: “As a general rule, I am inclined to favor an election. That being said, I want to listen a little bit to the conversation tomorrow and take a look at what the circumstances are case by case.”

Shannon Bushey, the acting county Registrar of Voters, said that if supervisors decide to call a special election, the most likely timeframe would be between June 4 and June 29. Fifty-six days after an election, which would count as a primary, a runoff would be held if no candidate receives more than 50 percent plus one vote.

The county’s effort to scrub Shirakawa from its website has been swift. As of Monday, there was no direct mention of Shirakawa on the District 2 page and a blank headshot resides where his picture could be found as of last Friday on the county scroll of supervisors. The only hint on the District 2 page that Shirakawa was a county supervisor as of last week is the reference to “his resignation.”

“The Board of Supervisors has 45 days from the date of his resignation to either appoint someone to fill the vacancy or set a date for a special election,” the page reads. “If the Board does not decide by then, it would be up to the Governor to appoint his replacement.”

Eddie Garcia, Shirakawa’s chief of staff, also no longer works for the county, as he was relieved of his duties by Deputy County Executive Luke Leung on Friday, according to a source. The rest of Shirakawa’s staff remains in place for the time being to answer calls and respond to constituents, under the supervision of Yeager’s office.

And if things weren’t awkward enough in the District 2 office, Monday also marked the first day for new hire Vanessa Compean, who joined Shirakawa’s office as a policy aide.

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


  1. One has to wonder if Former Chief of Staff Garcia has finally stopped laughing.  He seemed to think all of Shirakawa’s misdeeds were humorous when Josh first interviewed them months ago. 

    Anyone else in the office being held accountable for the missing money and failure to file all those reports?  Isn’t that what an elected official’s staff should be doing to earn their pay, to actually get the work done?

    DA Rosen should require that part of Shamed Shirakawa’s guilty plea and deal be that he name where he got the money from and what price he paid (in “favors”) for all that money.  The public has a right to know who exactly he sold us out to and why.

  2. Aware D5,

    I think he’s still laughing. If you look at Garcia’s Facebook entry, you’d never even know he was fired. He gives no apologies, or explanations, just a sunny account of his future plans. Pretty disgusting if you ask me.

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