Susan Ellenberg Leads Pack in Santa Clara County Supe Race

Observers said this would be a good year for women in politics. And though we’ll wait for the general election to see how much that holds true, Tuesday showed promise. Female candidates running for office in record numbers throughout the U.S. cleared major hurdles in the primary, including here in the South Bay.

That was certainly the case in a competitive bid for Santa Clara County supervisor that took a dramatic turn when a frontrunner, Santa Clara Councilman Dominic Caserta, bowed out last month amid allegations of sexual misconduct. The field of candidates vying to replace terming-out Supervisor Ken Yeager went from seven to six a few weeks before the race culminated Tuesday with a woman leading the pack.

Susan Ellenberg garnered more than 32 percent of the vote in the District 4 contest with all precincts reporting Wednesday, putting her way ahead of apparent runner-up and potential runoff challenger Pierluigi Oliverio.

Terming out San Jose Councilman Don Rocha trailed Oliverio by a razor-thin margin with 19.99 percent of votes, which looks close enough to trigger a recount. Campbell Mayor Jason Baker placed fourth at just shy of 12 percent.

Source: Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters

Ellenberg was clearly in good spirits—all smiles, hugs and handshakes—Tuesday night at Luna’s Mexican Kitchen, where she watched the returns surrounded by campaign volunteers and well-wishers.

“Our inside ongoing joke or thing that we tell each other is every day is an adventure because there seems to always be something that’s unexpected, could be great (or it) could shake us for a few moments,” Ellenberg said.

Susan Ellenberg was all smiles with friends and family at Luna's Mexican Kitchen. (Photo by Grace Hase)

By 7:30pm on election day, Ellenberg and her children gathered with friends and supporters to await the results, but her husband, Steve Ellenberg, was notably absent. With 30 minutes until the polls closed, Ellenberg said her husband was still out knocking on doors trying to convince people to get out and vote while they still had time.

The county’s District 5 Supervisor Joe Simitian also made an appearance at the Mexican eatery—a margarita on the rocks in hand.

“I just become more and more impressed with her as her campaign unfolds,” said Simitian, who could gain an ally on the five-member board if Ellenberg wins in the November general.

As for those 2,488 voters who chose Caserta, it would be interesting to know how many mailed their ballots before San Jose Inside broke the news of the harassment claims.

Susan Ellenberg pals around with her favorite county supervisor, Joe Simitian, at Luna's. (Photo by Grace Hase)

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  1. Congrats. Excellent story

    All the analysis I could get somewhere was from a guy about Bucky the Bronco and how 3 out of 4 predictions is 83 percent.

    Only thing he got wrong was the Santa Clara vote, well he runs a Santa Clara blog

  2. We are still waiting for all the votes to be counted in this race. Until all the votes are counted, we can’t know who will be in the runoff with Susan.

    • There are still 100K worth of votes left to be counted. Also, in this case with the margin so close, there is an automatic recount.

      • Why do you say there are 100K votes left to be counted? The total number of votes in so far is only 45K. You think there are more than double that still left to come in?

        • Don’t shoot the messenger. The news reported that number and on tonight’s news they reported that the total will take another few days.

  3. > Terming out San Jose Councilman Don Rocha trailed Oliverio by a razor-thin margin with 19.99 percent of votes, which looks close enough to trigger a recount.

    I predict that ballot boxes will be discovered floating in the bay, and they will have enough votes to put Rocha into the runoff.

    Hey! It’s happened before.

  4. Will be interesting if Chavez and Cortese become the minority voting block on the Board of Supervisors. Labor must be freaking out.

  5. This race was Rocha’s to lose and once again his work ethic has paid off…well done Don.

    • Richard Ajluni- Coming from a political consultant’s brother, that’s rather comical. This race is still too close to call, so let’s wait until ALL the votes are in shall we?

      • Agreed – gap closed from 200 to 100…i wonder what is left to count and when the initial counting will be finished

        • According to the count, Rocha only trails by 24 votes, and there are still tens of thousands of votes left to be counted. It will probably go to an automatic recount too.

      • Rocha is a Latino, so why was Alvarado and Hernandez labeled as the only Latino candidates. As of today, the margin between Rocha and Oliverio thinned to 24 votes. Alvarado spent nothing, but he got 79 new votes. Is there something there?

  6. Look at Precinct 1139, Alvarado garners just enough votes to turn to Oliverio. No voters received a thing from this guy while Hernandez put out a website with a clear message.

  7. It is surprising that Susan is doing so well. As president of the SJUSD school board she leads an organization that generates mediocre to poor academic achievement results for students in math and ELA especially students of color, English Learners, students with disability, economically disadvantaged students. See the results at on the Data Visualization page.

    Never mind actual results. Susan is promising us glittering but vacuous unicorns!

    Probably a good thing that she is leaving the school board as having an ineffective leader in this position is deleterious to our students. Good riddance.

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