I have been elected to public office in Santa Clara County 11 times, first as a city council member, then mayor and for the past 26 years as county assessor. I have always received strong bipartisan support including support from the Silicon Valley Organization (SVO)

I was nauseated by the SVO PAC’s racist political campaign advertisements. When I first learned of this, prior to the ensuing media firestorm, I immediately contacted SVO CEO Matt Mahood to express my outrage. In an interview with a Mercury News reporter I said, “This was disgusting and racist — something right from the playbook of Donald Trump.”

Public outrage and the CEO’s resignation is simply not enough. The SVO brand and culture has been so damaged by such reprehensible behavior and poor judgement, I believe the organization must be dismantled in its entirety. Just dissolving the SVO-PAC is insufficient.

SVO is not your typical nonprofit community organization. Shutting it down will not be easy. It is a business with assets, including a building in the center of downtown San Jose, contract obligations, commitments to employees and vendors and possible legal liabilities for past behavior. Dissolving the SVO is complicated but necessary. A simple name change will not suffice. With longtime corporate members and respected local business owners resigning and taking with them their financial support, SVO will at best limp along ineffectively; at worst, it will face a drawn-out slide toward insolvency.

I urge the leaders in San Jose’s business community to immediately come together to form a new business-centered organization in which ethical conduct is at the core of its culture, one that more accurately reflects the diversity of the business community. And when that happens, please name it the Chamber of Commerce, one of the most recognized brands in America.

I firmly believe San Jose only prospers when all voices have a seat at the table. I strongly oppose those in our community who see SVO’s demise as an opportunity to deprive the business community of any voice or political influence going forward. I have opposed similar efforts at the national level to silence labor and environmental interests, as well as efforts at the state level to deny labor unions from participating in political campaign activities.

Silicon Valley is stronger when diverse viewpoints and political discourse are balanced. It’s time to close the chapter on SVO, reimagine a new voice for the business community and begin the healing.

Larry Stone is the Santa Clara County assessor. 


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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