If you live in San Jose and voted in the June 2012 election, you might take a moment to recall how you voted on Measure B, the pension reform measure proposed by Mayor Chuck Reed. The measure had several parts including the right of the city to decrease pension benefits, reduce salaries of incoming employees, and change pension rules for new employees.
Measure B passed with a whopping 69 percent of the vote. Eighteen months later, a judge overturned the portion that would have allowed the city to reduce retirement pensions of current employees, saying that pension benefits were part of the employees’ vested interests.
So why the ancient history?
To a great extent, the San Jose mayoral and City Council races next month will be a referendum on Reed and his famous/infamous ballot proposition. Of the mayoral candidates, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese stands alone in his opposition to Measure B and calls for its repeal. The remaining four major candidates, Sam Liccardo, Madison Nguyen, Pierluigi Oliverio, and Rose Herrera all voted for the measure and remain committed.
Divisions are also found among the candidates running for the five City Council seats, with some supporting Measure B, others opposed, and others still calling for acceptance with modifications.
Of course, candidates have opinions on a wide variety of issues ranging from potholes to police services, but few draw sparks as much as their positions on Measure B.
So there you have it. When you think about voting in the San Jose elections, remember that in at least one sense, it’s a continuation of previous election battle.
Dr. Larry Gerston is a political science professor at San Jose State University. He also serves as a political analyst for NBC Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @lgerston.