City council campaign gets crazy

December 7, 2012 — by Rohan Rajeev

Things got pretty tense in San Jose’s political District 8 just a week before the week of the Nov. 6 election, in which incumbent councilwoman Rose Herrera defeated challenger Jimmy Nguyen in one of the strangest campaigns to date.

Things got pretty tense in San Jose’s political District 8 just a week before the week of the Nov. 6 election, in which incumbent councilwoman Rose Herrera defeated challenger Jimmy Nguyen in one of the strangest campaigns to date.

Controversy between the two parties erupted a few days before Halloween, when Herrera’s husband, Matt Wahlin, was filmed dumping Ngyuen’s campaign signs in a garbage bin. When asked about it, he claimed that the signs had been placed both on his own driveway and on pieces of public property, which is illegal.

He also claimed that he had been “blindsided” by two “assailants,” and knocked flat to the ground, and filed a police report.

The raw footage doesn’t help his case. In a grainy video, Wahlin is heard screaming expletives at the assailants, who were the filmers. He is heard threatening them, explaining that he has a knife, and tells them to back off. The cameraman flees, giving the impression that he wasn’t so much the assailant as he was the victim.

Herrera’s campaign spokesperson claimed that Wahlin had been dumping Nguyen’s campaign signs for a few nights because they had been placed on his driveway.

Dusin DeRollo, a Nguyen supporter and one of the cameramen involved in the confrontation, was part of a union-led effort to defeat Herrera. He lavished the opportunity to trash Herrera’s campaign, saying that stealing signs, no matter what, is inexcusable.

This whole fiasco, no matter what, was trivial, especially since Herrera won by a 10-point margin.

“Nguyen’s cameramen” played the game of politics well, and Wahlin was left rather clueless. If you were to be at a dumpster in the middle of the night and suddenly be approached by two men and a camera, a very viable reaction would be to threaten them in self-defense. It’s clear the cameramen closed in on Wahlin with intent to discredit his wife’s campaign. However, the only person Wahlin really discredited is himself.

But what about the candidates?

Both Nguyen and Herrera had no comments about the bizarre events. Nguyen’s spokesperson dismissed the video and claimed it was in no way associated with the campaign.

One could have accused the Herrera campaign of tampering or playing unfairly. One could also accuse the Nguyen campaign for “stirring up the pot” so to speak, since DeRollo implied that Wahlin was not supposed to trash the Nguyen posters left on his own driveway. Both parties seemed equally at fault after this poster-stealing.

This small city council election is an accurate representation of present-day elections, in which candidates are forced to play the game of politics rather than turn their attention towards the pressing issues. Presidential candidates, for example, were scrutinized mercilessly. At every little blunder came a massive uproar. Though this city council election did not create the biggest brouhaha, it caught people’s attention for all the wrong reasons.

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