City Council Candidates
By Robert Haugh

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City Council Candidates

With four City Council seats up for grabs in the November 6 election, whoever the community elects will represent the City’s future for the next four years. These four individuals, along with remaining Council Members Patricia Mahan, Pat Kolstad and Mayor Jamie Matthews, will be entrusted with leading the City through difficult times.

The four seats up for election are Seats No. 3, 4, 6 and 7.

Kevin Moore, Jamie McLeod and Will Kennedy will vacate termed-out seats, while Lisa Gillmor will run unopposed in her bid for re-election tp Seat 6.

Kennedy’s termed-out Seat 3 pits civil service commissioner and business professor Mohammed Nadeem against community volunteer and event planner Debi Davis - both business-centered candidates.

Nadeem claims to bring “a fresh, independent and fiscally responsible perspective” to the Council; citing ethical leadership, trust and accountability in City government, a shared vision for a growing City and sustainable environment, and involving the public as key platform issues.

Some of Nadeem’s goals include creating new jobs, maintaining core services, revitalizing downtown using the Santana Row model, improving affordable housing opportunities, protecting open space, strengthening the role of small businesses and the Chamber of Commerce, preserving neighborhoods, improving public transportation, and supporting youth and senior programs.

“My mission for Mission City is to lead our shared and sustainable future, ensuring a diverse range of opportunities in housing, employment, open space, public safety, schools and investments,” he says. “My goal is to provide leadership on our City’s environmental, fiscal, and economic policies and projects: Northside Library, stadium, downtown, for a better quality of life.”

Nadeem has served on the Library Foundation Board, Historic Home Tour Board and is active in the Santa Clara Rotary Club. He has served on Westwood Elementary and Buchser Middle School Site Councils and completed the Leadership/Police/Fire Academy Programs of Santa Clara. He also has over 10 years in leadership roles as a member of the board of trustees, vice president, and president of MCA Santa Clara, representing a community of about 7,000 to 10,000 people from over 70 different countries.

Nadeem garnered 44 percent of the vote, running against retired policeman and former Council Member Pat Kolstad, in his first attempt at Council in 2010.

Davis’ focus is also business, stating she wants to ensure that the Northside Library is open and “just as popular as our other two libraries.” Davis would like to see the old Mervyn’s Plaza “become the South Bay’s most vibrant new retail center” - and envisions the stadium area as “bustling with new businesses, shopping and restaurants as Santa Clara’s entertainment zone, attracting more new growth to the region.

“I want to make sure there are opportunities for our home-grown small businesses as well. And I would like to bring in more entertainment - places to go to do more than just watch a game.”

Davis also states she wants to ensure the City’s pension reform issues are resolved. “I know that we will succeed where other cities, like San Jose, have failed. It is important to our employees’ morale, to our City financial stability and to our residents’ faith in our local government to make this happen. As great as Santa Clara is, it’s not perfect, nothing is. We can improve in certain areas and I would work on these areas in the coming years.”

Davis adds that the City’s permitting process can be improved. “The small, family businesses are the backbone of a local economy and I want it to be easy for them to open in Santa Clara.”

"I am proud to call Santa Clara home, as this City is a place where people know their neighbors, where they work together, help each other, and cooperate to build a better community. Santa Clara is the City with a heart in the heart of Silicon Valley."

Vying for Seat 7, termed out by McLeod, is planning commissioner and businesswoman Teresa O’Neill, attorney and business owner John Mlnarik, and Northside resident and business owner Bill Collins.

O’Neill is the planning commissioner and member of the General Plan Steering Committee. She is also a contract administrator with Hewlett Packard and has over 30 years of high tech business experience, and states she will be bringing a “business perspective to extremely difficult financial decisions facing the Council...Santa Clara's current financial practices are unsustainable with declining revenues and increasing pension and compensation costs.”

O’Neill has served on the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Education Committee, the Santa Clara Unified School District’s Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2006, the Santa Clara Schools Foundation Board of Directors since 2007, the Delegate Assembly for the California School Boards Association, and the Triton Museum of Art Board of Directors. She has also been actively involved with Project H.E.L.P., the Santa Clara Sister Cities Association, United Way Silicon Valley and is a member of the Outreach Team, overseeing various activities of the St. Justin Parish Community Ministry, a church-based community services agency serving over 2,000 Santa Clara residents monthly.

“For decades, Santa Clara enjoyed great prosperity, providing superior services to residents and businesses. Now dramatic changes in our economic health call for change in city leadership. I ask for your vote for City Council so we can work together for the change needed to save Santa Clara,” states O’Neill. As an elected SCUSD Trustee, she was part of a Board that “made difficult cuts to keep SCUSD solvent while protecting students.”

Mlnarik, founder of The Mlnarik Law Group, Inc., is the current treasurer of the Santa Clara County Bar Association and chair of the San Jose Division’s Chapter 13 Committee. He is also the former editor-in-chief of the Lincoln Law Review.

Mlnarik’s priorities include maintaining a high level of City services to Santa Clara residents and keeping the costs of those services low. He looks to increase City revenues through economic development and attract new companies to Santa Clara with low utility rates, infrastructure improvements, and world-class public safety. He also wants to focus on completing developments and projects already underway to grow the tax base, maximizing the return on the City’s investment, and rebuilding the City’s reserves to sustainable levels.

“With local government still feeling the effects of the great recession my experience and education will be put to good use if I am elected to serve as a Santa Clara City councilmember.”

“In honor of our fathers and mothers who came before us, join with me in preserving what matters most and help me to earn your support in leading you through the troubles we face today and on to our successes of tomorrow.”

Mlnarik’s community involvement includes St Justin’s Parish and School, Santa Clara Rotary and Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce.

Collins, a Northside resident and president/owner of an e-management company is a late-filing candidate. The lone candidate representing the City’s Northside, Collins is a president of the Homeowner’s Association in the Rivermark community.

Retired policeman and active community volunteer Jerry Marsalli and student Alma Jimenez will be jockeying for Moore’s termed out Seat No. 4.

Marsalli retired after spending 30 years serving the community as a police lieutenant, remains active in various civic organizations. He has served as a member of the Santa Clara Parks & Recreation Commission for the past eight years.

“I have witnessed Santa Clara develop from a small town community into a city that is home to some of the leading high tech companies in the world. This presents both exciting opportunities and challenges for us.”

Marsalli’s priorities include providing the best city services possible in all areas: public safety, utilities, roads, libraries, and parks; ensuring that city government is open, accessible, transparent and accountable; enhancing the City’s business climate; increasing City revenue through economic development; focusing on keeping the budget balanced; and preserving the City’s neighborhoods and the quality of life.

Marsalli has been a volunteer, chair of, or board member with Mission City Community Fund, Santa Clara Police Activities League, Santa Clara Kiwanis Club, Santa Clara Vanguard, Santa Clara Elks Lodge, Santa Clara Veterans Memorial Committee, Santa Clara Westside little League and Santa Clara Y.M.I. Parade of Champions.

Jimenez, another late-filing candidate, is a business management and health technologies student. Her background is in the healthcare industry, with over 15 years experience, and she has worked for such organizations as Kaiser Permanente.

Also Running
The November election features bids for both police chief and city clerk. City Clerk Rod Diridon, Jr., is running unopposed for clerk, while Assistant Police Chief Mike Sellers is running for police chief, also unopposed.