General Municipal Elections are held in November of even numbered years. The elective officers of the City consist of a City Council made up of six council members and a directly elected mayor, the Chief of Police and the City Clerk, who are elected in a non-partisan election and serve "at large," representing the entire community, rather than a particular district. The Mayor and the City Council are elected to four-year overlapping terms. Each may serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. The City Clerk and the Chief of Police are also elected to four-year terms with no term limits.
Anyone who is 18 years of age and who is a resident and registered voter in the City of Santa Clara may run for a seat on the City Council or for City Clerk. The Chief of Police has the same requirements as well as the minimum eligibility and qualification requirements imposed by State law upon candidates of the office of Sheriff.
The nomination period opens in early July and appropriate papers to file and run for office may be obtained from the City Clerk. Due to the magnitude of forms, schedules and timelines during an election period, potential candidates for office are encouraged to schedule an orientation meeting with the City Clerk prior to the filing period. Potential candidates are required to gather twenty valid signatures of registered Santa Clara voters on a required nomination form supplied by the City Clerk. Candidates who wish to have a statement of their qualifications published in the sample ballot, which is mailed to all registered votes, must pay their prorated share of the publishing/printing costs. If the candidate subscribes and adheres to the City's Voluntary Campaign Expenditure Limit program the City will pay half the cost of this statement.
Based on an established schedule, candidates must file statements reporting all campaign contributions and expenditures for the designated time period. These reports are available online for public review and in the City Clerk's Office.