February 28-March 6, 2007

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Pierluigi Oliverio

Oliverio: Our choice for the District 6 election on Tuesday.

Endorsement: Pierluigi Oliverio for District 6

Silicon Valley's Chamber of Commerce is well represented on the San Jose City Council. Its artful strategy in last year's municipal elections swept a clutch of business-friendly reformers into office. Just as this newspaper's coverage critically examined the concentration of power by a South Bay Labor Council-aligned clique, consistency demands taking a similarly skeptical view of the electoral bid of 23-year chamber executive Steve Tedesco.

Tedesco was eased out as the Chamber's CEO five years ago, when it was losing money and members and political influence. Its decline, subsequently reversed by successors, can also be attributed to cyclical and post-Internet boom market factors, though Tedesco's leadership could not exactly be described as imaginative. Nor do Tedesco's management weaknesses necessarily mean he could not succeed in a public policy role.

The Mercury News this week withdrew its support for Pierluigi Oliverio, whom it supported in November, and threw its weight behind Tedesco, who is married to a retired senior executive of the daily newspaper. It based its reversal on rather nitpicky and subjective criteria, such as Oliverio's posing with constituents without disclosing that they weren't his (nonexistent) wife and kids, running for office under his nickname Pierre in previous electoral tries or failing to raise enough money for a charity he cited as an example of community involvement. (Memo to Pierluigi: Next time caption it "Not my kids.")

The weakly crafted suggestions of truth-stretching underlying the Mercury's weird editorial flip-flop should insult the intelligence of District 6 voters. The allegations are neither serious nor well founded, slightly more than the stitched-together slimings of Tedesco supporters posing as independent commentators.

Oliverio's exceptional talent, energy and vision exemplify the new climate that has reinvigorated City Hall this year and re-engaged San Jose citizens. Tedesco is Old Guard San Jose, unlikely to bring fresh ideas that are needed to advance the city.

Specifically, Oliverio bring unique strengths in three areas: transparency, technology and special interest influence. He has been a clear and consistent voice for government openness, and more importantly, he understands the issues. He knows more about contemporary information technology than any sitting councilmember, and, given the disastrous state of the city's IT infrastructure and public information systems, that knowledge can't hurt. Finally, his rejection of lobbyist money and public employee union endorsements, both of which Tedesco accepted, gives District 6 residents an opportunity to elect a uniquely unencumbered representative, more likely to fight for an average homeowner than a group or company that is trying to profit from an economic relationship with the city.

Oliverio received 40 percent more votes than Tedesco in November, a stunning achievement for a hard-working candidate who went from dark horse to frontrunner without selling out to special interests. Voters in Council District 6 should trust their instincts and stay the course.

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