A Santa Clara planning commissioner has been fired after officials discovered he does not live in Santa Clara and falsely claimed to be a registered voter in the city.
Ron Patrick served in one June meeting of the Santa Clara Planning Commission when his eligibility for the position was called into question. Councilmember Andrew Becker, who is running for mayor, recently told San José Spotlight he erred when he voted to appoint Patrick, who does not live in Santa Clara and actually lives in Mountain View. Planning commissioners are required to live in Santa Clara.
The Santa Clara City Council voted 4-2-1 Tuesday to remove Patrick and appoint Mario Bouza in his place. Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilmember Kathy Watanabe voted no and Councilmember Kevin Park was absent.
Patrick did not respond to a request for comment, and Becker declined to comment.
Ron Patrick was removed from the Santa Clara Planning Commission this week after records showed he lives in Mountain View. Screenshot from Aug. 16 Santa Clara City Council meeting.
In July, councilmembers reviewed a record from Patrick given to the county Registrar of Voters showing a Santa Clara address. The city received an email from the registrar on July 20 identifying a “clerical error” on the certificate submitted by Patrick at the July 12 council meeting, showing the Santa Clara address is his business property.
In a tense exchange Tuesday, Becker interrogated Patrick about his actions.
“What precedent are we setting to appoint somebody who lied on their application?” Becker said. “Do you think it’s OK to falsify documents and mislead the public?”
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Patrick claimed he thought he was registered to vote in Santa Clara because his absentee ballot came to his work address. He said the city told him of the error and that he could fix it. City Clerk Nora Pimentel confirmed she has had to ask people to fix their registration before.
Due to personal tragedy, Patrick said he began spending time at his Santa Clara office and other properties rather than his Mountain View home. He said he was a registered voter in Santa Clara before being appointed to the commission, but Becker and City Attorney James Sanchez said this was false. Councilmembers pointed to the fact that Patrick did not meet the deadline to register as an eligible candidate or voter in Santa Clara.
“If people are not registered in Santa Clara and they file as a candidate for the mayor, does anyone think they would be qualified for the city?” Councilmember Raj Chahal asked. “No, they would not be.”
Vice Mayor Suds Jain said Patrick could actually be cited for illegal occupation if he is residing in a business property.
“It seems like it would be hypocritical for him to enforce any zoning violations as a planning commissioner because he’s already occupying an illegal structure,” Jain said.
Patrick had some support from Watanabe and Gillmor, who objected to Becker’s line of questioning.
“I hope that no applicant ever goes through this process ever again,” Watanabe said. “It’s not warranted and it isn’t fair.”
Bouza was the first on the list of eligible applicants to replace Patrick. He ran for the District 2 city council seat in 2018. His phone line was not working when reached for comment.
Contact Natalie Hanson at firstname.lastname@example.org or @nhanson_reports on Twitter.
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