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San Jose City Leaders Vote to Fill Vacant Seats, Not Hold Special Election

The San Jose City Council late Monday night voted to fill the two vacant seats themselves instead of holding a special election.

This despite hundreds of people demanding the city let them vote to decide who should fill the seats. 

“Let us vote for our representatives, let us choose our leaders,” said a resident.

The city council was deciding whether to appoint new leaders to the vacant seats in district 8 and 10, or to let voters decide in a special election, which is what mayor-elect Matt Mahan had been lobbying for. 

“Nine politicians cannot replace the voices of over 100,000 residents,” said Mahan.

“I thought the district is smart enough, educated enough to understand issues and choose a council member,” said Vasundhara Teadieneti, District 10 resident.

The last time a council member was appointed was back in 1994. The next five vacancies were filled through special elections, according to the city clerk’s office.

The latest in 2014, during Mayor Sam Liccardo’s term, who contends what’s happening now is a political game.

“I never recall anyone debating the issue of whether or not we should have an election in 2015 when we did it then and I can’t imagine they did before that either, this is just plane power play and the reality is this is an extension of the mayoral election that just completed,” said Liccardo.

Opposing groups, such as the Santa Clara County Democratic Party, say it’s actually Mahan who is playing a pricey political game, looking for possible allies among a council who supported his opponent.

“If my agenda is driven by open elections and the vote of the people then that’s great I’m very happy to stand by that,” said Mahan.

But many voters stood before the council arguing against a special election, saying it would be a waste of money in a time when the city needs every penny.

“We have people sleeping on the ground, we have seniors like our mom and our dad, so please let the council, pick vote,” said a resident at the meeting. 

The clerk’s memo notes the price tag for a special election with a runoff in both districts could reach as high as $11 million. But the vast majority of speakers argued it’s money well spent, if it’s being spent on democracy.

“The city money is our tax dollars, I go to work every day,” said a resident.

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Source: NBC Bay Area

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