SAN JOSE -- Despite pleas from a handful of residents to delay by three weeks a special election to replace former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr., the board of supervisors on Tuesday scheduled the contest for June 4.
In a 3-0 vote, Supervisors Ken Yeager, Mike Wasserman and Joe Simitian agreed to set the date for the first Tuesday in June rather than June 25.
Supervisor Dave Cortese, who last week said he would support a June 4 election, was in Washington, D.C., on county-related business and unavailable to vote.
Board President Yeager said the June 4 date offers enough time for candidates to get up and running, noting "the sooner this district has an elected representative, the better.''
Shirakawa, 51, resigned March 1 after agreeing to plead guilty next week to multiple felony charges that he abused public funds and political donations.
The nomination period for his board seat opens Wednesday, and closes March 27.
Small business consultant Aaron Resendez asked the board why it was rushing the race, and to bolster his case, asked to submit the signatures of 168 district residents who requested a June 25 election date to give candidates more time to decide whether they want to run for the seat.
"We the voters of District 2 have to elect the right person for the job, not the connected, not the person with the most money,'' he told them.
Nonprofit worker Omar Torres asked the board for
"Our district and its residents are trying to dig ourselves out of a hole and holding a later election will help,'' Torres said, adding that a later election would allow more time for a "dark-horse'' community-oriented candidate to come forward and get to know voters.
Former District 2 Supervisor Blanca Alvarado also addressed the board, chastising them for their haste last week in deciding to hold an election, as well as her concerns over the county's move to consolidate polling places in the district to account for a lower voter turnout and keep election costs down.
"This scenario hints at possible unintended consequences leading to voter suppression outcomes,'' Alvarado warned. "This must not be allowed to happen.''
The district has 118,000 registered voters, and the Registrar of Voters office has said that the June 4 election will include 58 voter precincts, six of which will be vote-by-mail only because they have fewer than 250 registered voters living in those districts. The election and likely runoff are expected to cost a combined $2 million.
So far, longtime educator and perennial candidate Patricia Martinez-Roach has publicly announced she will run for the seat, which is also being considered by labor leader and former San Jose City Councilwoman Cindy Chavez.
Teresa Alvarado, a communications manager at the Santa Clara Valley Water District and former supervisor Alvarado's daughter, also is expected to run.
San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, who may run in the 2014 mayoral race, confirmed Tuesday that she is mulling over a run for Shirakawa's seat after several San Jose City Council members and community members have encouraged her to do so, she said.
Both Torres and Resendez said after the meeting that they too are contemplating throwing their hats in the ring.
Yeager said the June 4 time-frame was appropriate for several reasons, including that the school year would be over for many families, but that most wouldn't have left on summer vacations by then.
The debate over an early or delayed election date may be moot, however, since many observers expect the race will not be decided in the first round, anyway.
Larry Gerston, a political-science professor at San Jose State, said it would be a "long shot'' for any candidate in the race to emerge with the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win without a July 30 runoff.
"At the moment, as many as six candidates have been discussed in one way or another, and you have to assume that three or four of them will run with the express expectation that there will be a runoff,'' Gerston said.
Contact Tracy Seipel at 408 275-0140.