San Jose District 1 candidate for safe streets

First a bit of trivial trivia: I briefly majored in Political Science in college, and I’m still fascinated with the drama of politics.

The current San Jose District 1 Supervisor, Pete Constant, terms out after this year. Of the several people running to replace him in this mostly suburban district, one has distinguished herself with an understanding of transportation issues affecting her district and the city of San Jose.

San Jose District 1 Map 2011

District 1 is roughly the West San Jose region of San Jose bounded by Stevens Creek Boulevard on the north, the city of Cupertino to the west, Prospect Road and the city of Campbell to the south, and Highway 17 to the east.

Among those running, Susan Marsland’s campaign material caught my eye. She is the only candidate so far who places an emphasis on transportation issues. There’s so much to love about her transportation statement on her campaign site:

Transportation and Land Use

Creating a sustainable transportation network for all users is vital in order to build and expand opportunity for every generation in our community. We need to fix our broken roads, ease congestion, improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians and work together at the regional level to build a more robust transportation network. I strongly support Safe Routes to Schools and other programs that encourage all generations to choose active forms of transportation such as walking and bicycling.

District 1 is characterized by a lack of bike facilities, with numerous traffic sewers criss-crossing the city. The incumbent shot down street calming projects in his district, telling the city DOT that they weren’t needed in spite of a number of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths in the district. District 1 is also home to San Jose’s early experiment with New Urban design, the Santana Row mixed use development, where people drive and park to experience something like a similitude of urban life. VTA’s second busiest bus line — the 23 and 323 on Stevens Creek Boulevard — travels on the district boundary.

Among District 1 residents, 82% drive to work (either alone or in a carpool). 7% use public transportation, 5% walk, and 0.3% ride a bike. Break for the obligatory bike photo featuring a boy and his dad on Saratoga Avenue right where it crosses I-280 just north of Moorpark.

Father and son ride

Marsland and the several of the other candidates have a tough fight ahead of them. Another candidate, Paul Fong, has huge name recognition and a bevy of special interests backing him and his campaign. Charles “Chappie” Jones is politically connected and has a well financed campaign. Both seem to have basic suburban outlooks that equates wider streets with better mobility. District 1 is among the more conservative districts in San Jose; their incumbent, Pete Constant, is the only Republican on the current city council, and he easily won his last election with 62% of the vote against his two competitors.

One more interesting candidate is Bob Levy. He has long been active in civic involvement, serving on a number of boards, commissions and neighborhood associations. Levy chaired the planning commission in the past so presumably has some understanding of land use issues. People say he’s strong on environmental issues, but for him “Safe Streets” seems to mean smooth streets to enable faster traffic, along with a stronger police presence. Just too bad about those old folks who keep getting whacked as they play Frogger across eight lanes of Stevens Creek Boulevard so they can go shopping for groceries at Safeway.

Safe Streets

Safe streets encompasses more than simply hiring more police officers. It means preventing crime before it happens and building a strong sense of community where neighbors look after one another. Safe streets means streets that are free of potholes and well maintained sidewalks. As a San Jose City Council member I will:

    Increase the police force to 1200 sworn officers
    Utilize non-sworn (and far less expensive) personnel when a sworn officer is not required
    Promote prevention over intervention
    Work with school districts, non-profits and businesses to provide after school recreation and tutoring programs
    Promote Neighborhood watch and other neighborhood based programs
    Use data analytics to place police in hot spots before a crime takes place
    Support the Park Ranger program
    Support the aggressive graffiti removal programs
    Improve the safety of our streets and sidewalks by investing in their repair

Another break, this time for video from Bike Party June 2013, which began on Stevens Creek just west of Saratoga Avenue. I don’t believe any D1 candidate has participated in Bike Party (though I could be wrong).

Finally, candidate Tim Gildersleeve really intrigues me. He’s a long time resident, rents an apartment not far from the West Valley ghetto by the old El Titanic burrito place, drives a paratransit bus, and walks around with one of those Berean Bookstore t-shirts with a Scandinavian Jesus riding victorious on a white horse. Under his worldview, Gildersleeve writes:

I recognize there are some who will not agree with my worldview. I handle it as such:

  • Build on those things that we have in common. Build on common values and common methodologies for solving problems.
  • Seek to understand each other’s worldviews in a rational, logical, and agreeable manner.
  • Where we can not resolve our differences, agree to disagree in a civil way. No need to treat one another in a cruel manner. Seek mediation if necessary.
  • As a councilman, I am under obligation to implement the charter of San Jose, county law, state law, and constitutional law. However, like anyone, if on a personal basis I am asked to do something unethical or wrong I have the right to refuse the task.

There’s no way he’ll win, but his honesty and naivete are refreshing. I would totally vote for him if I lived in D1.


  1. Each district in San Jose has about 95,000 people, of whom about 70,000 are “voting age” population as of the 2010 Census.

    The 0.3% comes from 2009 Census data.

  2. Great article Richard. I have actually participated in a few SJ bike parties with my husband David. David is an avid rider. He has ridden in the Climate Ride to support many local nonprofit organizations. The next Climate Ride is in May.
    Thank you, Susan

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