SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The hotly contested race to replace termed-out Santa Clara County supervisor Ken Yeager took another turn Friday. Former Councilman and current Board of Supervisors candidate Pieriluigi Oliverio responded to what supporters call a vicious act of dirty politics.
If it seems political mud-slinging is getting worse, a point in case could be a mailer sent to homes in Santa Clara County District 4. It has pictures of Harvey Weinstein, Alabama Republican Roy Moore, and then Oliverio. Below the pictures the following words: “Weinstein. Moore. Oliverio. Three of a kind. ALL WRONG for Santa Clara County.”
“The recent mailers we’re just a below the belt tactic to try and derail Pieriluigi’s campaign,” said San Jose District 6 Councilwoman Dev Davis.
Friday afternoon, about three dozen Oliverio supporters – the vast majority women – gathered at a Willow Glen home to defend the former councilman and decry the current state of politics.
“We talk about the politics in Washington, D.C being terrible, [but] they’re here in our own backyard,” said Pieriluigi Oliverio.
Added supporter Claudia Folzman, “Our national discourse is just to get in the mud and wallow.”
Oliverio’s opponents say the political fire is justified, following a sexual harassment suit in 2014. Although San Jose settled for $10,000, and the plaintiff dropped Oliverio from the suit, his former chief of staff claimed he sexually harassed her multiple times. Some of his alleged statements to the chief of staff: “…My mother was hoping, that all hope was not lost for you and I having a baby together.”
“We can’t put him in office and wait for the other shoe to drop,” said Shaunn Cartwright, a local activist opposed to the Oliverio candidacy.
County law enforcement unions, representing thousands of voters, have called on Oliverio to bow out of the race, as Dominic Caserta has done.
“The conduct from the lawsuit is no different from the type of sexual harassment that either Roy more or Harvey Weinstein did,” said Vicki Gemetti, of the Santa Clara County Government Lawyers Association.
For his part, Oliverio continues to deny making the alleged offensive comments and says the flier has given his campaign newfound fuel.
“I’m am so very thankful that women and men are speaking up because dirty politics is dirty pool. And if we let ourselves succumb to this then no one is ever going to seek public office,” said Oliverio.
It’s unclear how much damage the mailer did, but Oliverio says he won’t quit the District 4 race. Voters will decide if allegations equate to misdeeds when they cast ballot in the statewide primary.