Getting to know the Santa Clara City Council candidates
The Santa Clara Weekly is running a series of profiles on political candidates in the November election -- this article focuses on city council seat six Suds Jain.
By David Alexander

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Getting to know the Santa Clara City Council candidates

Suds Jain wants to represent you on the Santa Clara City Council.

Jain is in his first term on the Santa Clara Planning Commission, which expires in June 2019. He sought the appointment to the council back in March when Lisa Gillmor filled the mayor’s seat, an appointment the council ended up giving to his opponent Kathy Watanabe. He holds a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has served on the Valley Transportation Authority Citizens Advisory Committee,

As a planning commissioner, Jain said he has seen some things with “the way the city is operated” that have left him wishing he had “more control” over policy. For example, he said a proposal to alter a home came before the commission, and many neighbors expressed concern that the home would become a high-density home or “mini-dorm.”

“Lacking an ordinance on mini-dorms, I had to approve the project,” Jain said. “People were not happy with me for approving the project, but my hands were tied.”

Although he said he is “not a fan” of the election by seat method because it “pits people against each other,” Jain said knows the city well, saying he has “been to more council meetings than pretty much anybody else running, especially the two people [he] is running against.”

Being retired means he has the time to undertake the demanding job of city counselor, he said. His education and commitment to staying up to speed on issues in the city will, he believes, also prove invaluable.

One area Jain said he wishes he could do more to change is traffic. Other cities in the area have imposed stringent penalties on developers who do not meet traffic targets, he said. Such policies “really incentivize employers to not have as much traffic.”

Santa Clara also has too few planners for its size, he added.

“We are building all these developments -- office and housing developments. The city doesn’t have a good policy for handling the traffic,” he said. “We are basically rubber-stamping development in the city.”

Another area of concern, Jain said, is education. The council should do more to make Santa Clara as attractive as surrounding areas such as Cupertino, Palo Alto, and Sunnyvale when it comes to educational opportunities for kids.The city should invest more of its money into “promoting” art, science and math. On a similar note, the city should work to “promote more affordable housing for teachers.”

In addition to monitoring development, specifically to minimize the amount of commercial developments the city is approving, Jain said he would like to increase government transparency adding that the city has done a “poor job” of fostering open government. For instance, the city should release council agenda packets earlier, he said.

Jain said he is not “beholden to special interests.” He said Santa Clara hasn’t been charging developers enough to build here, adding that the council needs to work harder to make the city a more attractive place to live, which will in turn drive housing costs down.

Part of making the city more attractive is preserving its environment, Jain said. He said he would like to see more environmental initiatives like tree planting programs, adding that the city’s climate action plan needs to have “more teeth.”

Many of these problems stem from the city’s staff, or lack thereof, he said. Santa Clara simply doesn’t have the amount of employees to adequately address many issues it faces, he said. The council would do well to look at neighboring cities and follow their lead, he added.

“If we were all the same, we wouldn’t have cities fighting each other,” he said. “If we were more in line we would be more cooperative, and we wouldn’t have cities tearing each other apart.