Becker continues to trail in Santa Clara mayor race

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022
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Santa Clara mayoral candidate Anthony Becker. Photo: Courtesy the campaign
Santa Clara mayoral candidate Anthony Becker. Photo: Courtesy the campaign

Gay Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker is locked in a tough race to be elected mayor of the South Bay city. Should he prevail, Becker would be the first LGBTQ person elected mayor of a large Bay Area city.

Becker, endorsed by the San Jose Mercury News, is trying to oust from office Mayor Lisa Gillmor. According to the unofficial results, he remains in second place with 49.04% of the vote compared to Gillmor's 50.96%.

As of Friday evening her lead had grown from just 53 votes on election night to 391 votes. The next vote count update will be posted by 5 p.m. Saturday.

Their contest largely centered on the ramifications of the city luring the San Francisco 49ers to Santa Clara a decade ago. Becker lambasted Gillmor's support of the stadium deal and her antagonistic relationship with the football team ever since.

She painted Becker as in the pocket of owner Jed York due to the millions of dollars the team spent in support of Becker's candidacy and that of his allies on the council. It is an accusation decried as inaccurate by Becker, who argued new leadership at City Hall is needed that can negotiate with the 49ers for terms on the stadium more beneficial to Santa Clara taxpayers.

Next door in San Jose in a race that pitted two straight allies against each other, City Councilmember Matt Mahan has the edge in his bid to become mayor of the Bay Area's largest city. He was leading with 51.38% of the vote against Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who trails with 48.62% as of Friday.

"We finished last night with a narrow lead and we are cautiously optimistic," tweeted Mahan, who had the backing of termed out Mayor Sam Liccardo and the San Jose Mercury News.

Meanwhile, Chavez remained hopeful she could still eke out a win. A former San Jose councilmember, she had support from many LGBTQ leaders.

"At this hour, votes are still being counted. And we're still waiting anxiously to see who will become San Jose's next mayor," wrote Chavez in an email Wednesday to supporters.

LGBTQ Silicon Valley council races

Meanwhile, a number of out council candidates on the Peninsula and in the South Bay appear headed to victory. In the most high-profile race gay Democratic Party official Omar Torres is set to return out leadership to the San Jose City Council for the first time in 16 years.

The San Jose native was in first place for the District 3 council seat with 63% of the vote. Torres will be the first out person of color on the council and only its second out LGBTQ member.

He visited his elementary school November 9 and posted a celebratory photo of himself in front of the building via Twitter with a thank you note to his supporters.

"I never did this alone. It was always US. I am ready to continue the work, together! This is where it all started!" wrote Torres.

In Cupertino J.R. Fruen, a gay man, mounted his second council bid after losing his race two years ago. He was one of seven candidates running against an incumbent councilmember for three citywide council seats on Tuesday's ballot.

Fruen is currently in second place with 16.62% of the vote. If elected, the attorney would be the first LGBTQ person to serve on the Cupertino City Council.

Richard Mehlinger, who is queer and bisexual, is hoping to serve alongside queer Sunnyvale City Councilmember Alysa Cisneros, elected in 2020. He was one of two candidates seeking the District 5 council seat and currently is in first place with 71.42% of the vote.

"I will work hard to build a greener, safer, more affordable, more livable Sunnyvale, a Sunnyvale where all can thrive and flourish," pledged Mehlinger in a note he tweeted out November 9 after his opponent called him to concede the race.

Several others were trailing in second place by just a handful of votes.

Sarah Fields, a queer and bisexual San Mateo resident, sought Tuesday to become her city's first out LGBTQ councilmember. Running for the District 3 council seat against two male opponents, Fields stands at second place with 40.83% of the vote. She is short of first place by 129 votes.

Gay Redwood City planning commissioner Chris Sturken also sought a council seat in his city. He was one of three candidates running for the District 1 seat, which includes the downtown area.

Sturken was in second place with 37.83% of the vote. He is shy of first place by 46 votes.

If he wins then the 28-year-old would be the youngest man on his city council in recent memory and its third out member. Two years ago saw the elections of Michael Smith, a gay Black business entrepreneur, and Lissette Espinoza-Garnica, who is a queer, nonbinary Chicanx.

This article will be updated as more ballot returns come in.

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