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December 11, 2023
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Moore commands support in urban areas; Badame wins big in hillsides; Rennie hanging on

Alex Shultz, Steve Chen and Misty Davies top high school board race

As the Nov. 8 election results rolled in, the gap between the top two council candidates and the rest of the pack increased, with both progressive and slow-growth factions finding a candidate they liked, as voters registered lukewarm on Mayor Rob Rennie’s performance in office.

Rob Moore’s early top-dog status held strong. The young Democrat, who previously interned with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s office, won in low-lying urban precincts, getting 22.99% of the vote overall (6,994 votes), while Mary Badame, who mocked Sacramento’s housing-affordability agenda during campaign events, carried the wealthy hillside areas, bringing in 21.60% of the total vote (6,571 votes.)

Three seats were being contested.

Over the week Badame began to pull away from third-place finisher Mayor Rob Rennie, increasing her lead by almost half a percentage point.

Rennie had secured 5,899 votes (19.39%), however it appeared some voters decided to punish him for not coming out strongly enough against residential development recommendations.

Though Rennie was instrumental in carving out the single-family zone as immune from contributing density increases toward Los Gatos’ efforts to fulfill state housing mandates, some residents had criticized the compromise he brokered to pass now-paused development provisions of the 2040 General Plan.

The Los Gatos Community Alliance, a local group behind the referendum drive that led to the shelving of the Community Design and Land-Use Elements of the new General Plan, had railed against Moore and Rennie while supporting Badame and Stump.

Nevertheless, Rennie was still ahead of Stump—a candidate whose motto was “Slow the Growth”—as he was trailing with 5,546 votes (18.23%).

Long-time businesswoman Margaret Smith, in fourth place at 4,014 votes (13.20%), clearly resonated among some residents with her pragmatic, non-confrontational approach to local politics—but not enough to win the day.

While the votes were being counted, Planning Commissioner Reza Tavana, missed another of his regularly-scheduled Planning Commission meetings, Nov. 9. He was sitting at 1,392 votes (4.58%).

Commissioners are allowed to skip eight regular meetings in a 12-month period. Tavana is up to six absences in the last year.

Meanwhile, in the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District race, Alex Shultz was out front with 11,737 votes (25.87%), followed by Steve Chen who had 11,389 votes (25.1%), then Misty Davies at 9,010 votes (19.86%), David Guidry who’d brought in 6,762 votes (14.90%), with Chris Miller garnering 6,475 votes (14.27%).

Three seats are up for grabs.

Schultz was winning in Lexington Hills, Loma Prieta and the bulk of Los Gatos, while Chen was winning downtown and in north Saratoga, and Davies found pockets of support in south Saratoga and along Hicks Road in the east.

More than a quarter of Santa Cruz County voters selected Chen (25.32% – 1,074 votes), with Shultz in second there (23.81% – 1,010 votes), followed by Davies (21% – 891 votes), then Guidry (16.81% – 713 votes) and Miller (12.78% – 542 votes).

And in Saratoga, Measure C, which proposed term limits for the City’s council, passed with more than 75% of voters in support. In line for one of three seats on Saratoga City Council were Yan Zhao, the incumbent, in first with 25.57% of the vote (7,760 votes), followed by Belal Aftab at 22.93% (6,959 votes) and Chuck Page at 21.45% (6,508 votes). Bill Dalton was in fourth at 19.01% (5,768 votes) and Priya Rajaram Shastri was in fifth at 11.03% (3,348 votes).

Los Gatos’ business tax modernization effort—Measure J—was ahead with 53.58% in support. It needs a simple majority to succeed.

Measure M, the Loma Prieta Joint Union School District parcel tax—which needed a 2/3 vote to pass—was just over the line, with 69.17% in favor. Measure O, the Campbell Union High School District parcel tax (also needing a 2/3rds majority), had found 75.83% in support. Measure T, the Campbell Union School District school bond proposal, was at 69.07% in favor—though it only needs to clear the 55% threshold.

Drew Penner
Drew Penner
Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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