Robinson: The election is over, so stop the campaigning
Residents cast ballots at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters on Nov. 8, 2022. Photo by Loan-Anh Pham.

    News flash: The 2022 campaign is over. It’s time for our public leaders to govern. The next election year—2024—will come soon enough, but there’s no need to continue the silly season now.

    The worst manifestation of our current body politic lies at the national level, but our local politics are not immune from the personal pettiness of constant political advancement. Embattled Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who can’t get 218 votes for speaker of the House, recently promised to kill any bill from Republican Senators who voted to fund the government. Such petulance is unworthy of a great republic.

    Closer to home, threats are being made, acrimony exacerbated and political positions being taken as the campaign of 2022 morphs into the campaign of 2024.

    In short, Mayor-elect Matt Mahan appears to be seeking short-term political gain to enhance his next reelection, while a small but loud minority of his opponents are seeking to stop his entire agenda, even issues on which they agree. Such positions are not worthy of public service.

    Let me make it clear this effort to undermine Mahan does not include Supervisor Cindy Chavez. Chavez will never do anything to hurt San Jose. When she first ran for mayor against Chuck Reed, she never threw previous Mayor Ron Gonzales under the bus. Even though doing so, at the time, would have helped her politically. As she explained to her myriad of political advisors who favored the idea, she would not disparage Mayor Gonzales because that would harm the city. Her adherence to those principles has not changed.

    That said, there are some embittered folks who lost a close election who don’t want Mahan to succeed. And while they may be loud, they are not close to being the majority.

    But Mahan is not helping himself with his political posturing. Instead of focusing on an agenda, he appears to be whining about his opposition, listening to the loud minority instead of bringing people together on issues where he may have support.

    The recent debate over appointments versus elections is a relevant case in point. The new Mayor-elect did not have the votes for a special election to fill two open seats. Mahan did have a chance to forge a consensus, but instead he exacerbated the division. Not a good start to his tenure.

    Mahan still has a chance to make the process work for the city’s benefit, but it will take leadership. Most of us support good government, and the appointment process can begin to bring San Jose together or further divide the body politic. Let us hope the Mayor-elect sees the wisdom in bringing about a consensus.

    One negative that has already occurred is the withdrawal of at least one qualified candidate for the job. In District 8, Judy Rickard, a longtime community activist with a solid reputation for integrity, withdrew from the appointment process.

    “Lack of respect for elected or appointed leaders is a huge issue everywhere now,” Rickard wrote in a letter to supporters who had encouraged her to seek the job. “You have seen the situations on TV or heard online about issues cities are having with their local governments and the lack of respect the MAGA-generated crowd displays for government—even the U. S. Congress was attacked. As an out lesbian, I am even more a target for some.”

    When good people are concerned for their safety and choose not to seek public office, we all lose.

    The real solution would be to adopt a U.K. system of election. In the U.K., campaigns are limited to 25 days. Governmental change is instantaneous and there is no transition period. There would not have been time for former President Donald Trump and his co-conspirators to plan and execute the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. But in the U.S. there is too much money and special interests involved for that kind of system to be accepted.

    We must stop the constant campaigning, as it is not good for our government. A happy new year includes no campaigning until at least next December.

    San José Spotlight columnist Rich Robinson is a political consultant, attorney and author of “The Shadow Candidate.” His columns appear every fourth Wednesday of the month.

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