49ers, real estate pour money into Santa Clara elections

With less than two months until Election Day, the San Francisco 49ers have already spent a stunning $1.2 million on Santa Clara City Council races, while real estate interests are stepping up to defend one of the team’s largest critics — Mayor Lisa Gillmor — in her re-election bid.

In 2022, the 49ers have proven once again that they’re the big spenders in Santa Clara City politics, having formed so-called independent expenditure committees to back Councilmember Anthony Becker’s mayoral campaign and councilmembers Karen Hardy and Raj Chahal’s re-elections. Two years ago, the team’s owner, Jed York, poured $3 million into a political action committee to help elect Vice Mayor Suds Jain and council members Kevin Park and Becker.

At least to appearances, the new, 49ers-backed council has been far more supportive of the team’s interests than its predecessors. And the team’s money continues to be transformative. Terry Christensen, a professor of political science at San Jose State University, said the 49ers’ investment in city council campaigns this year is “truly extraordinary, especially for such a small city where campaign spending has traditionally been very low.”

According to campaign filings, the team has spent $383,907 to date on advertisements supporting Becker for mayor. The 49ers have also spent $218,344 and $227,100 to support Hardy and Chahal, respectively.

Another $385,788 has been shelled out to oppose Gillmor, Christian Pellecchia, the former board chair of the Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce who is running against Hardy, and longtime resident Larry McColloch, who is contesting Chahal.

In a statement, 49ers spokesperson Rahul Chandhok said the team is “proud to support this diverse set of candidates who are dedicated to fixing the $27 million deficit created by Mayor Lisa Gillmor and her political machine, which has been funded for decades by billionaire developers, at the expense of public-school teachers, affordable housing and voting rights.”

But Becker told this news organization that it’s “disappointing” that the race has become so focused on independent expenditures, which differ from campaign contributions since candidates don’t have control over the money. He emphasized that he has “not taken a dime” from the team, nor has he asked them for anything.

“The only support I really, really want is from Santa Clarans,” he said. “My hope is that there is no political spending by any entity, including developers and the 49ers. But then again, as you see what’s happening right now, you know, I have no control over.”

Becker, Hardy, Chahal, Jain and Park have been the target of much criticism by some residents over their frequent meetings with the team, as well as their votes to oust former city manager Deanna Santana and former city attorney Brian Doyle — both adversaries of the NFL team.

The money flowing into Santa Clara politics from the 49ers comes just weeks after the city settled its long-running lawsuit with the team over the management of Levi’s Stadium.

While the 49ers are on track to be the top spenders this election cycle, Gillmor’s allies in real estate have started organizing on …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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