Newest Addition to Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Represents Critical Swing Vote

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors shifts a bit more to the center with Susan Ellenberg’s decisive victory as an independent over South Bay Labor’s shining hope to succeed Ken Yeager, terming-out San Jose Councilman Don Rocha.

How Ellenberg’s presence impacts the five-member board’s approach to issues such as the housing crisis, union contracts, jail reforms and core county services will come to light as the dynamics take shape in 2019. But the blurred political lines will likely incentivize cooperation now that one of the South Bay’s most formidable labor leaders, Supervisor Cindy Chavez, no longer holds sway over a reliable voting bloc.

“They spent a lot of money to not have me in this seat,” says Ellenberg, a San Jose Unified trustee and  former attorney. “But I think collaboration is essential. If I could promote that, it will be a good thing.”

As she sees it, her transition has already set a collaborative tone by working alongside Supervisor Ken Yeager’s staff as he winds down the end of his second term. Yeager Chief of Staff Jim Weston and Policy Director Brian Darrow will stay on the job for a month after Ellenberg’s swearing in to help her and her District 4 office find its footing. Ellenberg’s campaign manager, Angelica Ramos-Allen, will lead the transition and assume Darrow’s position.

For chief of staff, the supervisor-elect hired her former Silicon Valley Organization colleague, Derrick Seaver, who has spent the past year as policy director of the San Jose Downtown Association.

Seaver’s hire could be seen as a way of reaching out to the business community, though Ellenberg said her reasons were more straightforward than that. “Derrick has a lot of policy experience,” she says. “We work really well together, which for me was first and foremost. Plus, he’s totally on board with my vision to help children and families.”

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  1. Whereas she spent a lot of her own family money and millionaire friends donations to buy the seat.

    She didn’t earn the trust of union workers in the race, it’s her job to earn it now that she represents them. But instead she wants to bring up how working class people spent the money they earned, but not how she spent the money she inherited, and then hire a chamber of commerce rep to run her office? Tone deaf, and sends a clear message.

    • Such animosity in the face of Labor pouring boat loads of money into Rocha’s campaign..AND I MEAN SH*T LOADS!….that’s OK in your eyes but the fact that Susan E. spent her own money or donors’ money is not OK…perverse way of viewing politics. Limited thinking indeed.

  2. > my vision to help children and families.


    Is this just a typical politician throw away line? Or is she really intending to say something serious?

    One way she might “help children and families” is to push back against the wacky extremism of the “gender tribalists” and what is known in Catholic circles as the “lavender mafia”.

    Male shaming, woman-privilege in family courts, glorifying single motherhood, relativizing and optionalizing marriage, and opposing school choice are all things that DO NOT help families and children.

    What’s in you vision, Supervisor Ellenberg?

    • Ya think ‘helping the children’ extends to those just a few weeks from being born… ?

      Nah. They can’t vote. Snip ’em.

  3. This may be the new normal for local government races where wealthy candidates spend over six figures of family money to win. Voters are suckers for populist slogans and promises that cannot be kept.

    • Once again, Labor can spend upwards of hundreds of thousands to elect their minions, but the wealthy are despised for privately funding campaigns. Hypocrisy indeed!

  4. Derrick is an excellent choice for Executive Officer and will do great working with other members of the Board of Supervisors. I meet Derrick several years ago when we held monthly meetings for the Silicon Valley Young Democrats. Will always have his back.

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