The San Francisco Chronicle reports that San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat who incurred the wrath of the state’s Democratic party and unions because he supported Measure B in 2012, has eschewed supporting Betty Yee, a state Board of Equalization member and the Democrats’ choice for state controller, and instead endorsed Republican Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin.
Ashley Swearengin and I have worked together as part of the Big Ten Mayors, a bipartisan group organized to focus on statewide issues impacting our residents and taxpayers. [Swearengin’s] focus is not on partisan politics, but rather on getting the job done right. I’m proud to support her… [She has] demonstrated the leadership and determination that we need to reform government and improve efficiency, without regard for party labels.
In 2010, Reed was reelected as mayor with 77% of the vote, largely because the citizens liked him saving the city, which was close to financial ruin. Reed’s term is up this year, freeing him to support Swearengin without fear for his reelection.
Measure B, which failed, would have forced city workers to pay more into their pension fund as well as making increased retirement benefits subject to a citywide vote. Reed’s support of the measure infuriated labor unions, which filed lawsuits. Reed said pension reform was necessary because “skyrocketing retirement costs are crowding out funding for essential public services and pushing cities, counties and other government agencies closer to insolvency.” Reed even sued State Attorney General Kamala Harris, asserting that she biased the title of the measure and the summary of it that appeared on the ballot. After his defeat in court, he decided not to put it on the ballot again in 2014.
Reed got in more hot water with his party when he urged support for a statewide initiative that would have permitted cities and other government agencies to address fiscal crises by reducing future pensions.