November, 2 1990
By Yolanda Reynolds
La Oferta Review, last Tuesday, shared with its readers a summary of an interview with City of San Jose mayoral candidate, Susan Hammer. This issue follows with a summary of an interview this writer had with Hammer’s opponent in the mayoral race, Frank Fiscalini.
Frank Fiscalini, from Eastside Union High School District Superintendent, is campaigning very hard in his bid to become the next Mayor of San Jose. Fiscalini has been endorsed by number of organizations, among them The San Jose Police Officers Association, The Eastside Teachers Association, The San Jose Uniﬁed Teachers Association, The San Jose Fire Fighters Association, The Oakgrove Teachers Association, The Amalgamated Transit Union, The Santa Clara/San Benito Counties Building and Construction and Trades Council, The Teamsters Retiree Club of Santa Clara County, The Santa Clara County Business Association and The San Jose Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Also endorsing Fiscalini are numerous elected officials such as U.S. Congressmen Norm Mineta and Tom Campbell, State legislator Senator Alfred Alquist, Rusty Areias among others. Among many citizens who have endorsed Fiscalini are individuals such as Luis Valdez, playwright Bob Pérez, attorney; Jose Villa, educator, in a long list of community supporters.
This last Tuesday afternoon, Fiscalini held a press conference at which Zoe Lofgren, a member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, announced her endorsement of him.
The interview with Mr. Fiscalini began with the question, “lf elected to the mayor’s office, what do you envision your accomplishments to be at the end of your first four years? Fiscalini responded with a number of items that he feels are important to be addressed by the next Mayor of San Jose. One of the first items that he mentioned is the need for low cost and affordable housing. He said that affordable housing will be his first priority, and would preferably be available in areas along the public transit lines where the residents could efficiently, and at a small cost, commute to work. Fiscalini also proposes that more Redevelopment money be set aside for low cost housing. He also plans to, “develop realistic programs that will help first time homeowners purchase a home.” Fiscalini envisions that, through his office, the City would “serve as a facilitator” in bringing together nonproﬁt group, the City or the housing industry in developing or acquiring affordable housing.
In another area, Fiscalini says that he wishes to change the image that “San Jose is not a friendly place in which to do business” – a complaint that he says he has frequently heard. I want the image to be, “if (as a business person) you have come here for help, you will be helped.” He says that “business people have told me that they started the process for establishing a business, but that their experience in San Jose prompted them to go elsewhere.”
Asked specifically about the “Mercado” planned for downtown San lose by DURA Enterprises (the for-profit arm of CET), which has encountered many roadblocks at the hands of City Hall. Fiscalini said that “the Mercado will be built”.
Fiscalini says that San Jose is a diverse community and he feels that the mayor’s office can in addition to, its official duties, play a very important role in bringing to the city a climate that says that the people who live here “all get along.” He wishes to assure that the, “diverse communities are empowered, that their needs are addressed, that all groups are included in the system – in the decision making that takes place in the City, especially when those decisions affect them. I want to create the right climate in this city that is inclusive and not exclusive and this is accomplished best by a good example.”
Fiscalini says “the roots of our city are important particularly for the youth. How that (early history) is depicted is very important. It’s important to know where our roots are, but to do this properly, we need to review the composition involved in those committees established to determine how to commemorate our city’s past.”
On a range of other issues, Fiscalini spoke to his priority for a strong economic base which contributes to the City’s General Fund, as well as to provide employment for its citizens. He says that (a strong economy) provides salaries that allow people to live in San Jose. He says that, along with a good economic base, a good and efficient transit system is necessary; one that works – “allowing alternatives to the auto for the commute to work.” He feels that transportation needs more coordination and attention from the Mayor’s Office.
Fiscalini wants to see the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens as quickly as possible. Of concern to Fiscalini, is proper maintenance of all of these projects. Fiscalini wants to make sure that there are sufficient funds available to maintain that which has been built and those projects currently on the drawing boards. He plans to review the Master Plan (for the City) to see that it is doing what it is supposed to be doing.
Fiscalini plans to lend the influence of his (the Mayor’s) office to address the educational needs of the youth of this City. He says that (as mayor) he will act as an advocate for education at the state and national level. He plans to establish as an going committee which he says he will represent various sectors of the community, business, educators and others. The purpose of the committee will improve and support the education that is available to the youth in city. He cites education as a key at not only to the personal success of youth but also to the well being not only of the City but the State and the Nation as well.
La oferta asked about the City’s future revenues in light of the many reports of a slow down in the economy. Much of the revenues (taxes) that pay for the libraries, police and other services that the City provides, come from the sales taxes collected in the City. In response, Fiscalini says that as the Eastside Union HS Superintendent he had experience in working with reduced funding. During that time Fiscalini says that for him the shortfall was, “an issue of how to best adjust the expenditures to meet the income – not where to increase taxes (revenues) – just as households have to make sure that no more money is spent” (than is in the bank).
He says that “cities, schools and other governmental agencies go through this sort of shortfalls.” Fiscalini said that he had experienced this (lack of money) after Proposition 13 (while serving as Superintendent). We had no other place to go for more money, we had to cut down our expenses – we have to do the very best we could in that situation and plan a flexible budget in order to stay within the funds available. I will work closely with the staff – not as an adversary but in a cooperative manner and let the staff and citizens to understand that in that context I am a supportive person, not a combative person.”
In response to the question of ho he, Fiscalini, would include Hispanics and other minorities in the affairs of the City, Fiscalini said that several attitudes influence him. One is his experiences as a child where in his parents taught him tall all people are to be treated fairly, and his belief, that in a city with great diversity, as here in San Jose, all of the citizens must be considered. He vows to listen to the people of the City, to respect the, to be inclusive as possible and to assure tat all are empowered to participate in the decision making process at City Hall.
There are reports that the City of San Jose is planning a major expansion of the San Jose Airport. This writer asked Mr. Fiscalini to comment on that expansion. He says that he has several concerns on this matter. He questions whether the expansion plans include a thorough analysis of the ingress and egress of the ground traffic and an analysis of the noise that will be generated by a bigger airport.
Fiscalini says that an airport brings economic benefits to the City but that should also be a good neighbor to the surrounding residential areas.
Fiscalini also pointed out that there is, currently in Washington, legislation pending that would remove local control of the noise and curfew restrictions and other controls that impact neighboring homes, buildings, etc. caused by air traffic.
He says that he “will do everything in (his) power to fight any attempt by Washington to remove local control over things that affect the quality of life of our citizens.”
Fiscalini and his wife, Joan, have lived in San Jose for many years. Before becoming Superintend, Fiscalini was a classroom teacher, then a coach later moved into administration and culminating his career in education as the Chief Administrative Officer (Superintendent) of the largest High School District in the Valley.
He, like many of the candidates, seem to be enjoying the challenge of the campaign as it goes into the last few days before the election.