‘It’s not me’: San Jose candidate denies allegations of criminal history
Chuck Cantrell, San Jose planning commissioner and candidate for the Valley Water board of directors, speaks out against allegations of criminal history. Former San Jose Vice Mayor Blanca Alvarado is seated next to him. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

There are thousands of people in the country with the last name Cantrell. Now one San Jose planning commissioner, running for a water district seat with that surname, is caught in a mudslinging campaign to defend against criminal allegations.

Charles “Chuck” Cantrell is fighting against an anonymous email sent to his colleagues on the Planning Commission and board members of Valley Water, which accuses him of abusing women and other alleged offenses including arrests for drugs and lawsuits for financial irresponsibility. Cantrell is campaigning to unseat Tony Estremera from Valley Water’s board of directors.

Cantrell denied all allegations on Tuesday and said he’s not a criminal nor has he abused women. He plans to sue if he finds out who the anonymous email came from.

“It’s not true,” he said. “It’s not me. It’s never been me. It could not be me.”

San Jose Planning Commissioner Chuck Cantrell said he is not a criminal and has never abused women. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

The allegations come as three of four Valley Water board members seek reelection, with two running unopposed. Estremera from District 6, John Varela from District 1 and Gary Kremen from District 7 want to serve another term. Linda LeZotte from District 4 plans to retire at the end of the year. Cantrell is challenging Estremera for the seat, in addition to Santa Clara County Airport Land Use Commissioner Diego Barragan.

Cantrell said he’s not surprised by the attack and implied it came from Valley Water. He said he has been maligned to hide the board’s ineffectiveness and desire to keep the status quo—referring to a ballot measure approved in June that extends the number of terms board members can serve from three to four. Some found the language misleading.

“If you’re willing to hatch a scheme to add additional terms to your already term-limited board seat, if you’re willing to hoodwink over 300,000 voters at a cost of $3.2 million… to extend your term, you’re willing to do anything,” he said. “If you’re willing to write a ballot measure that makes voters believe that you are limiting your terms when you’re actually extending them, then you’re willing to do anything.”

Barragan and Estremera told San Josè Spotlight they have no knowledge of the accusations, and their campaigns are not behind them.

Cantrell said the accusations are the same racial profiling he’s seen before.

“This is when they call the Black guy a criminal,” he said. “They think this is a narrative that’s easy to stick to.”

Blanca Alvarado, former vice mayor of San Jose who’s endorsing Cantrell, said disinformation is a huge disservice to democracy.

“It is a disgrace that the politics of our times are so guttered, so smear driven that the ability to concentrate on the issues and focus on the multitude of problems that we have to confront are distracted by this nonsense,” she said.

Alvarado said Cantrell is an honorable person and believes in candidates who are willing to speak to voters in person and emphasize good politics over bad.

“The water district is a valuable agency for our present and our future,” she said, “and to have credible, authentic people who will do the right thing in their governance position is essential to our livelihood, safety, economy and to our lives.”

Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]

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