POSTED: 06/04/2014 04:07:04 PM PDT- UPDATED: 17 DAYS AGO
SAN JOSE -- The House of Campos took a hit on the east side and a cop rose from obscurity to the top in downtown. Election Day produced some surprising results in the races for City Council, setting up run-offs in November that could shift the balance of power at City Hall.
"Will the council stay center-right?" asked Larry Gerston, a political expert at San Jose State University. "There's a possibility the council could tilt to the left."
Among the council results, none was more stunning than the apparent outright victory in District 5 by Magdalena Carrasco over incumbent Xavier Campos. With all precincts reporting, she trounced him by 20 percentage points, or just over 1,000 votes. Four years ago, Campos beat Carrasco by only 20 votes in the 2010 primary election. Some 97,000 late ballots however remain to be counted, though the additional vote tallies later in the week aren't expected to change overall results in most races.
"This was the rematch," Gerston said. "This was a grudge match."
Two east side voters on Wednesday offered explanations for the remarkable upset.
"There was a collective sigh of relief last night in east San Jose," said Elsie Aranda, a retired electronics manager and neighborhood leader. She said Campos and his sister, state Assemblywoman Nora Campos, ran a "vindictive political clique" for their own benefit. "This is the beginning of the end of their political machine."
Ted Johnson, a retired businessman and community leader who has lived in the area for 50 years, described Carrasco as a "nice lady of integrity who would actually listen to what the community is saying, unlike Xavier."
Campos also was on the defensive this time from his association with disgraced, former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa, who was let out of jail only recently. The scandalous demise of the once-venerable Mexican American Community Services Agency, where Campos was a top executive, also didn't help his campaign. Gerston said the low voter turn-out helped Carrasco. Only 5,373 east side voters showed up in District 5, far less than the 9,297 who voted in District 9 on the west side. Gerston said the most motivated voters still came out in District 5, and they were driven by "anger" at Campos for the scandals tainting him.
In the run-up to the election, labor organizations that opposed Carrasco in 2010 hedged their bets this time by supporting her and Campos. At the same time, her campaign benefited from an astounding $100,000 spent promoting her and opposing Campos by the Silicon Valley Fraternal Order of Police. The nation-wide group's San Jose chapter is led by Bobby Lopez, a retired city policeman and former police union leader.
Lopez felt Campos couldn't work with other council members effectively.
"Xavier had had four years, and I didn't see anything," Lopez said.
Carrasco and Campos were unavailable for comment.
The race for city council in downtown San Jose featured the rise of police officer Raul Peralez, who finished first in a large field of six candidates. He will oppose neighborhood activist and attorney Don Gagliardi in November.
"We are please with the results so far," said Lucila Ortiz, campaign manager for Peralez.
Gagliardi admitted he was surprised by Peralez's showing but offered an explanation.
"I had expected I would be up against Kathy Sutherland in the run-off," he said. "Once Raul got labor's endorsement, that changed the dynamics."
Sutherland shared many neighborhood-based priorities and general support of pension reform with Gagliardi. Gerson said the two probably split the liberal, urban vote to the benefit of Peralez.
The Carrasco victory was the shocker, Gerson said, but were more surprises in the election. One of them was the last-place finish in District 7 of Buu Thai, who was endorsed by the popular mayoral candidate and Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen. Another was Bob Levy's inability to get into the run-off in District 1.