Alvarez: The Silicon Valley Organization ads aren’t only about racism
Councilmember Sylvia Arenas speaks at an Oct. 30 new conference to condemn a racist attack ad alongside Councilmembers Magdalena Carrasco, Raul Peralez, Sergio Jimenez, and Maya Esparza. Photo by Patrick McGarrity.

The Silicon Valley Organization money was not poured out purely for racism.

The SVO money poured out to buy political power among specific candidates. The SVO money poured out to defeat specific candidates that champion the oppressed — because the oppressors are desperate to maintain power.

Hit piece after hit piece has been funded by The SVO and by the San Jose Police Officers Association (POA) to prevent dismantling of an oppressive structure that’s been in place for centuries in Santa Clara Valley. This is not simply about SVO corruption.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo zealously recruited candidates to unseat Latino councilmembers and his efforts were funded by SVO and supported by the POA.

On a Saturday early this year, I met with the mayor to plead for his withdrawal of endorsement of Jim Zito, whom the mayor celebrated in successfully recruiting to run against well-respected sitting Councilwoman Sylvia Arenas.

He could find no other person to agree to run against her record. But Mayor Liccardo kept looking and left no stone unturned until he he found Jim Zito. With detail, I informed Mayor Liccardo of the wrongful harassment suffered by a stellar East San Jose Superintendent and how Zito robbed our Latino community of one of the best education champions our families and students have ever had.

She was pushed into early retirement by Zito and his terrible decision-making as a trustee. Mayor Liccardo not only disregarded my plea that day, but even after conferring directly with the former superintendent, he likewise disregarded her testimony and advisory.

In the end, Mayor Liccardo could no longer sustain his endorsement of Zito when matters of domestic abuse became public. The mayor claimed to not know anything about Zito’s character, like he is doing now about SVO. But Sam Liccardo had substantial information and reason to not support Jim Zito. He didn’t care until it risked his ambitious career goals and those goals were the reason he needed Zito to begin with.

Councilwoman Arenas dared to represent families, not corporate interests. Her leadership disrupted unanimous votes and led to split council votes and community push back. That didn’t suit Mayor Liccardo’s need to be “effective” on the City Council, especially for corporate interests that will fund his political future and his allies that will deliver votes from the dais to maintain the corporate funding of campaigns.

SVO isn’t buying ads to be purely racist. They are buying ads to win election of candidates who will maintain the violent machine of oppression. They are buying ads to defeat the champions of equity — people close to my family, like Dave Cortese and Sylvia Arenas — and my parents are as good a map and compass as anyone could ever ask for.

As a daughter with their map and compass, I absolutely work closely with Jake Tonkel because he is good and just. As I write this, I look out my window in Willow Glen at a Trump flag flying on a flag pole in my neighbor’s yard.

That Saturday morning early this year, I warned the mayor that his strategies and tactics risked turning this valley Trump red. I told him he was building a fire that will go wild. Please help the oppressed. Please.

Serena Alvarez is a San Jose native serves as pro bono executive director of The Salvador E. Alvarez Institute for Non-Violence / Center for Conflict Resolution. She also volunteers for the historic Hispanic civil rights organization CA LULAC as District 14 director and state executive board member.

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