Watch the virtual candidate forums before you vote this November

Watch the virtual candidate forums before you vote this November

The Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce will be hosting virtual forums for City of Santa Clara City Council candidates running in Districts 1, 4, 5, and 6—districts which will be voted on in November.

The event will be held in two sessions with two districts each session.

Wednesday, September 30, 6:30-8pm – Districts 1 and 6

Thursday, October 1, 6:30-8pm – Districts 4 and 5

The Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a forum for City of Santa Clara City Council candidates running in Districts 1, 4, 5, and 6—districts which will be voted on in November.


The event will be held in two sessions with two districts each session. The format will include five questions posed to the candidates by moderator Christian Pellecchia. Answers will be given with two minutes for an opening statement, two minutes per question, and two minutes for an ending statement.

Wednesday, September 30, 6:30-8pm – Districts 1 and 6 REGISTER HERE

Thursday, October 1, 6:30-8pm – Districts 4 and 5 REGISTER HERE



District 1

Harbir Bhatia

Kathy Watanabe – Incumbent


District 4

Teresa O’Neill – Incumbent

Kevin Park


District 5

Suds Jain

Bob O’Keefe


District 6 

Gautam Barve

Anthony Becker

Robert Mezzetti




As an organization whose mission is to advocate for business and economic development, the Chamber has a keen interest in knowing what is happening in government. But it goes deeper. The Chamber is made up of citizens who live and work in the area. This is home; our members want to know who their elected officials are and where they stand on issues that affect us all. 

The Chamber is not a political action committee. We sponsor candidate forums because we believe people have a right to know what their candidates for public office say about issues that affect our communities. We provide the forums as a public service, and we are privileged and proud to play a role in the democratic process. Our candidate forums allows those seeking public office to express their views openly so community members can understand their positions and make informed voting choices.


Format: Moderator

  • An unbiased event moderator will pose questions to the candidates through written questions submitted by the Chamber and if time permitting questions submitted by the public.
  • The event moderator will maintain order and decorum for the event.
    Each candidate will have an equal and fair opportunity to express his or her position on issues.
  • A timer will be used to indicate end of time allotments.
  • Candidate forums are typically broadcast live on Facebook.


General Forum Rules:

  • Order of appearance within each group of candidates will be chosen at random or alphabetical order and will be reversed for closing comments.
  • Opening statements will allow candidates to introduce themselves.
  • Topics will be a wide range of issues of general interest to the public.


A candidate forum can take place in many formats. Our local candidate forums typically follow the following format:

  • Candidates make open remarks.
  • Candidates are asked prepared questions on themes important to Chamber and our community.
  • Time permitting, candidates are asked questions that the audience submits on index cards.
  • At the end, candidates provide closing statements, with an equal amount of time given to each candidate.
  • For candidate tips and preparing for live Facebook broadcasts Click Here
  • Typical Scope of Questions:
  • Candidates past and current community involvement?
  • Your principles/core values as it pertains public policy
  • Thoughts on the role of government as it pertains to the regulation of business and protecting the free enterprise system?
  • How will you partner with the various stakeholders in the community?
  • Top two or three priorities if elected?
  • How will you support of the business community and/or economic development?
  • Thought or plans on building a skilled workforce.
  • Regionalism and working with other partners (municipalities, chambers, etc.)
  • Vision for the city/office
  • Positions/thoughts on current issues/topics, news articles, trends, etc.
  • How have you, or will you, support the mission and work of the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce


Other Forum Details :

  • No interaction among candidates, audience members or other program participants is allowed.
  • Answers to questions on issues will typically be limited to 1-2 minutes.
    No substitutes or stand-ins for candidates are allowed, and no pre-recorded statements will be accepted.
  • Broadcasting: The Chamber uses Facebook to broadcast our forums. All broadcast are recorded live, in their entirety, and are not edited.
  • Empty Chairs: It sometimes happens that only one candidate in a contested election accepts a debate invitation or that a candidate cancels a debate appearance after agreeing to participate, leaving the debate with only one participant — often called an “empty chair”. Forums with only candidate will proceed as scheduled.
  • Lobbying: The Chamber is a 501(c)(6) business league and not subject to the same lobbying restrictions as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. While the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce is permitted to engage in unlimited amounts of lobbying, all candidates forms are politically neutral.

Proper Decorum:

  • The forum is not a debate. No interaction or debate among candidates will be allowed.
  • No direct interaction will be allowed from the audience. The audience cannot ask questions. Only the moderator will be allowed to interact with candidates.
  • All interaction by a candidate will be through the event moderator.
  • There will be no “winner” declared by the moderator or event sponsors.
  • “Grandstanding,” speaking off topic, or off-color remarks will be called out of order by the moderator.
  • Attendees shall respect the rights of others and shall speak in a civil and courteous manner

In Person Events:

  • No candidate or candidate supporters will be allowed to hand out materials, advertise, or otherwise solicit inside or outside the day of the event in any capacity.
  • All political demonstrations are prohibited
  • Cell phones should be turned off as a matter of courtesy
  • No unauthorized videos are allowed
  • Placards, signs, posters, packages, suitcases or other large objects are prohibited
  • Weapons of any kind are prohibited except when carried by law enforcement officers

Any violation of this code of conduct or forum rules will be cause for removal

The candidate forum is meant to inform the citizens of our community and create an opportunity for community building. If all candidates adhere to the rules everyone will benefit through increased visibility and general interest in the community.


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