As the S.F. 49ers geared up to face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, a group of local activists implored the team for help with a very different kind of match-up.
In a Feb. 1 letter to Niners lobbyist Rahul Chandhok, opponents of Measure C—an initiative that would switch the city of Santa Clara’s council elections from six districts to three—asked for support defeating the ballot proposition, which goes to voters in the upcoming March 3 primary.
Santa Clara, home to the 49ers-run Levi’s Stadium, went from at-large elections to district contests by court order after getting sued minority litigants who claimed the prior system violated the California Voting Rights Act by unfairly disadvantaging non-white candidates. As proof of systemic bias: in nearly four decades, the city only elected one non-white council member, and that person only won after Santa Clara divided its council seats among six districts.
“There is no doubt that there is a better democracy and a better Santa Clara when that diversity is reflected and represented in local government,” Richard Konda, head of the Asian Law Alliance, one of the litigants in the voting rights case, wrote to Chandhok.
But the city, led by Mayor Lisa Gillmor, flatly opposed the six-district voting system and backed Measure C to cut the number of districts in half.
Konda asked Chandhok if the team would link arms with his No-On-C coalition, which includes San Jose-Silicon Valley NAACP President Jethroe Moore III, the La Raza Roundtable’s Victor Garza and former Assemblyman Paul Fong.
“As a valued community organization in Santa Clara, we know the 49ers share our collective and steadfast belief that we can build strong and healthy communities when all of our voices are heard and represented,” Konda wrote. “For that reason, we urge you to join us in our fight to defeat Measure C.”