Alvarado: Rush to change to strong mayor system is a push by special interests
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is pictured in this file photo. Photo by Nadia Lopez.

The rush to change the City Charter to a strong mayor form of government is a rush that is driven not as much by need but by political expediency by special interests.

The voters, if the measure goes to the November ballot, will be asked to lengthen the term of the current mayoral office holder, with the somewhat questionable reason that more voters will go to the polls during a presidential election cycle.

With little or no credible community process to discuss the merits and the minuses of such a change, we would be guilty of voter suppression, like President Donald Trump.

In 1978, then Mayor Janet Gray Hayes appointed a diverse Charter Review Committee that spent a year studying various forms of municipal government structures. At the end of exhaustive research and discussion, the committee submitted a recommendation calling for district elections, which the voters approved resulting in elections to the council by district.

The community dialogue on the subject was widely debated, and the majority of the electorate favored the charter change.

It seems to me that if Mayor Sam Liccardo is interested in advocating for the best interests of the electorate over his own self interest, he would be wise to assemble a Charter Review Committee that would study the issue more broadly than is the case today.

Democracy works best when the “people” determine the changes that are necessary to reflect the times. It is, otherwise, the rule of power over the rule of determination by the people.

Blanca Alvarado is a former lawmaker, East Side advocate and longtime community leader. Alvarado was the first Latina to be elected to the San Jose City Council and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

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