The San Jose councilor condemned the supporter’s “racist” message directed in opposition to her opponent

by Vicente Vera
October 27, 2020

The battle for a seat on the San Jose City Council has taken an ugly turn. The latest controversy concerns the Silicon Valley Organization, which is fighting to defeat progressive candidate Jake Tonkel.

On its website, the corporate organization posted a black and white picture of blacks in a civil rights riot that was later deleted. One heading reads: “Are you sure you want to log in?” Tonkel supports the defusion of the police, which could lead to riots.

Tonkel challenges District 6 councilor Dev Davis, who immediately denounced the news, saying she was ashamed of the support she received from the business lobby. The SVO has spent nearly $ 200,000 on Tonkel and more than $ 36,000 to help Davis run one of the most expensive races of the local election season.

“I just found out about a horrible website posted by SVO that features rioters in the streets,” Davis tweeted. “I am angry and shocked by the terrible graphics and really disappointed with the very poor judgment and racist image that the SVO has published. I denounce this in the strongest possible terms. I am ashamed of the support I have received.”

I just came across a horrible website posted by SVO that shows rioters in the streets. I am angry and shocked by the horrific graphics and really disappointed with the very poor judgment and racist image that the SVO has published. This is what I denounce the most and am ashamed of the support I have received.
– Dev Davis (@DevDavisCA) October 27, 2020

In a statement, SVO officials accused someone else. They also accused a website advisor earlier this year when the face of Sylvia Arenas, a member of the San Jose Council, was obscured in a controversial campaign mailer also labeled as racist.

“A web administrator posted an image on our website that was insensitive and racist,” said Matt Mahood, SVO president and CEO, in a statement. “We sincerely apologize for the mistake and pain we know the picture caused those who saw it. The person who posted the picture tried to understand the consequences of an 80% cut in the police budget. to demonstrate, but the image chosen was offensive and should not have been published. We are reviewing all of our internal procedures to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Tonkel told San José Spotlight that he was glad Davis “understands the problematic language and imagery” and has denounced SVO’s support.

“Obviously I am frustrated that SVO’s apology still uses the same lie they perpetuated to voters that I am somehow in favor of taking 80% of SJPD’s funds away,” he added. “At this point I think the SVO leadership needs to think long and hard about stepping aside because it is going to be an embarrassment for our community. They are trying to stir up fear in our community, and it’s the worst way political manipulation. “

Civil rights activists agree the apology does not go far enough and urged Davis to return SVO’s money.

“She needs to return the money immediately, or better yet, to social justice organizations that do the work in Santa Clara County,” said Rev. Jeff Moore, president of the NAACP in San Jose, Silicon Valley.

“It fuels the flames or Trumpism, it fuels the flames of those who support Trump,” he added. “And I wonder if they are Trump supporters, if they are trying to sow divisions in this community, and this will not be tolerated. These are supposed to be our company leaders. When companies tell this to the community, they have no respect for anything what we’ve been through as colored people all along. They don’t understand. “

This is not the SVO’s first offensive mailer or campaign communication against Tonkel.

The organization also produced several mailers accusing Tonkel of wanting to end the zoning of single-family homes, which sparked the wrath of a prominent list of lawyers and nonprofit executives.

The mailers claimed Tonkel would enable the construction of large apartment complexes alongside single-family homes, citing Tonkel’s support for the city’s casual housing proposal.

“When Councilor Davis says,” My opponent supports building quadruple buildings next to your family home without reducing the impact on traffic or parking, “that’s of course an outright lie,” Tonkel told San Jose Spotlight.

Shiloh Ballard, executive director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, sent a letter to officials at SVO, the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, and the California Apartment Association requesting that the “apparently misleading” mailer be withdrawn and publicized to apologize.

“Your obviously misleading mailer kindles the flames of anti-density rhetoric, fear of low-income families, and hinders our collective ability to advance sensible, much-needed housing and climate solutions,” the letter said.

Nearly 50 prominent local leaders signed the letter, which represented organizations such as the Sacred Heart Community Service, the City Year, the NAACP, and the Bill Wilson Center.

“After George Floyd, more community leaders have come together to find out how to become more active against racism,” Ballard told San Jose Spotlight. “We have been meeting regularly for months and are committed to calling up racist ideas and systems when they arise.”

The letter also calls on the three organizations to make public statements “recognizing the history of housing policy, zoning and racism”.

Sandy Jamison, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, said her organization’s contribution to the SVO PAC was not a policy statement, but rather supporting a candidate who has a proven record of supporting housing for people of all income levels.

Tonkel said he doesn’t see opportunity housing as a single-family home zoning violation.

“The maisonettes are already there,” he said. “For me, this is an opportunity to create affordable units that add socio-economic diversity to our community.”

Letter to CAA, SVO, CAR v2

Contact Vicente Vera at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @vicentejvera.

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