Getting to Know the Santa Clara City Clerk Candidates
The Santa Clara Weekly is running a series of profiles on political candidates in the November election -- this article focuses on city clerk candidate Deborah Bress.
By David Alexander

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Getting to Know the Santa Clara City Clerk Candidates

Deborah Bress wants to represent you as Santa Clara City Clerk.

Bress is a mainstay at the Santa Clara City Council meetings,  regularly voicing her opinion on a variety of topics. She classifies herself as an “advocate” and an “activist.”

“I think Santa Clara has lost its sense of community, and I can bring that back,” she said. “The people we have driving this system aren’t living in the real world. It is like having the inmates in charge of the asylum.”

Bress is critical of the city clerk, her opponent Rod Diridon, saying he has failed to ensure the public has access to the information it needs to keep it abreast of what is happening in the city. She pointed to availability of the environmental impact report for the new Apple “spaceship” project on Homestead Road as an example, saying approval of many development projects in the city are “going on behind closed doors.”

Bress is also critical of how Diridon has handled his auditing duties. She said he has neglected to oversee Levi’s Stadium properly, pointing to the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury investigation that recommended an independent audit to determine whether tax dollars funded stadium operations.

“How many more things are not being audited or looked at properly?” Bress said.

If elected, she vowed to change the clerk’s “rubber stamp” policies, calling the auditing effort in the city “miserable.”As City Clerk, Bress said she would increase access to the government and be unbiased, unlike Diridon who she characterized as “very political.” Taking money from political groups creates “bias,” she added.

Part of that increased access is listening to the concerns of Santa Clarans instead of ignoring them, she said. Many people have complained to her that they are “treated disrespectfully” by council members, she said, adding that city employees often “forget who they work for.”

Often, Bress said, people don’t bother reaching out to city hall to get information because they feel as if no one understands their concerns.

“We do the minimum. We don’t do what makes sense, and I don’t think we should do the minimum,” she said.

Public outreach is also key, she said. If citizens don’t know that public records are available, they don’t know to ask for them.

One of the biggest components to public engagement is the city’s website, which Bress called a “quagmire,” saying finding public records on the site is “close to impossible.”

“We live in the center of technology and what we have is an embarrassment,” she said. “A 12-year-old has a better website than we do.”

Bress contrasted herself to the small group she said “controls the city” a group she said has “lost its way” and “focuses on the needs of the few, not the many.”

She said she wants to restore the public’s trust in the government by ensuring the government is responsive to the public’s needs, adding that “accepting it the way it is, is sad.”

“Let’s not wait for a fire, an earthquake or something bad to happen,” she said. “Let’s come together now.”