Longtime San Jose political staffer enters D1 supervisor race
Denelle Fedor, a former San Jose political staffer who's running for the District 1 Santa Clara County supervisor seat, is pictured here with San Jose-Evergreen school board trustee Jim Zito and his son. Photo courtesy of Denelle Fedor.

A former political staffer and case manager is entering the race for Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors District 1.

Denelle Fedor told San José Spotlight on Thursday she intends to campaign for the seat during the June primary and has filed some preliminary paperwork. Incumbent Supervisor Mike Wasserman terms out at the end of this year.

Fedor, a district resident who has run for office in the past as a budget hawk, said she decided to enter the race after multiple people asked if she would.

“People want something different,” Fedor said. “They know if they continue to elect the same people over and over again they’ll get the same results.”

Fedor is currently a case manager at LifeSTEPS, a federally-funded nonprofit in San Jose that provides affordable and supportive housing assistance to residents. She ran and lost in the 2012 election for the District 10 San Jose City Council seat.

Fedor has served in various political roles in San Jose over the last two decades, including as chief of staff for then Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio, and as an aide to former Councilmembers Pat Dando and Ken Yeager. In 2014, Fedor filed a lawsuit against the city and Oliverio, accusing him of sexual harassment and calling her vulgar names. Oliverio denied the allegations. Fedor later dropped Oliverio from the suit and the case settled for $10,000, according to media reports.

Fedor is concerned about the plight of unhoused residents in the county and said she wants to find ways to shelter people currently living near freeways and in parks. She’s also concerned about conditions in the Santa Clara County jails and wants to improve health care access for inmates.

Fedor, who describes herself as analytical, said the Board of Supervisors did a good job handling the COVID-19 pandemic, but she is concerned some of the county’s actions have been unnecessarily punitive. She pointed to the forced closure of some small businesses at the beginning of the outbreak, and also the county’s fines against Calvary Church, which has refused to obey health orders.

“It continues to be this ongoing and unfortunate battle between county counsel and the church,” Fedor said. “I don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayer money.”

Fedor is a latecomer to the race, which already has several candidates, including former San Jose Councilmember Johnny Khamis, Santa Clara County Board of Education member Claudia Rossi, Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine and San Jose Councilmember Sylvia Arenas. Los Gatos Mayor Rob Rennie dropped out of the race after the Board of Supervisors approved new political boundaries that drew him out of the district. Fedor worked for Khamis after failing to secure the District 10 council seat in 2012.

Fedor doesn’t have any endorsements at the moment, and said she will not accept money from any political action committees. She noted many political campaigns have been won by people who secured less funding than their opponents.

Sonia Marchana, an occupational therapist at Kaiser Permanente, told San José Spotlight Fedor is objective, levelheaded and not afraid to look at issues differently to find reasonable solutions.

“I was in awe of Denelle’s leadership and managerial skills when she was the event manager for the annual Fourth of July event at Almaden Lake Park for five years,” Marchana said. “She organized every part of the event—including the security plan for over 40 security officers—for an event that attracted over 20,000 people.”

Contact Eli Wolfe at [email protected] or @EliWolfe4 on Twitter. 

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