Background

Teresa O'Neill Santa Clara

Mayor Lisa Gillmor endorses Teresa O’Neill for Santa Clara City Council Seat 7, August 2016

Teresa O’Neill was born here in Santa Clara County, and has spent most of her life in Santa Clara. Teresa’s parents, Tom and Sally O’Neill, started their married life together in the married students housing at Santa Clara University. There, they made lifelong friends and established many connections to the Santa Clara community.

Teresa started getting involved in community work while a student at Santa Clara Unified Schools, including serving as a student body officer at Buchser High School. Teresa’s principal at Buchser High was Don Callejon, who later went on to be Superintendent of Schools and a member of the Santa Clara School Board. Together, they worked to create the first Parent Teacher Student Association in the area, and Teresa served as the first student member of the PTSA board.

After graduating from Stanford University, Teresa wanted to return to Santa Clara and began her career with Hewlett-Packard Company. She worked in many capacities while at HP, including sales and marketing administration, logistics, proposal preparation, program management, and government sales and contract compliance. Prior to her retirement to devote more time to her council duties, Teresa negotiated HP agreements in the areas of technology licensing, major alliances, and supply chain, often worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Just as importantly, she learned the best of visionary management practices by working for exemplary leaders, and also learned in a different way from bad leadership. She understands what worlds of difference good leaders make to any organization.

After coming home to Santa Clara, Teresa started getting involved again in the community, including at her parish, St. Justin, where she taught middle and high school students religious education for over 20 years. She is on the oversight team for Community Ministry, which provides food, clothing, and other services to thousands of Santa Clarans each month. Teresa was part of a team that worked to reconstitute a new parish council to better represent the needs of the parishioners. Together, they also created new mission and vision statements. She later served as the Chair of the Parish Council.

Teresa has also served on a variety of non-profit boards, which has educated her on many community issues. She has particular interests in education, the environment, the arts, and health.

The daughter of a career Santa Clara Unified classroom teacher, Teresa’s belief in strong public education and dedication to Santa Clara Unified led her to run for and be elected to the SCUSD Board of Trustees in 1998 and again in 2002. During her board tenure, Teresa became an advocate for students and adequate education funding at the county and state levels. In good financial times, Teresa and the entire board were good stewards of community resources, and in bad times, while it was gut-wrenching, the Santa Clara school board made the necessary cuts to personnel and programs to keep the school district solvent. Teresa started and actively participated in the comprehensive Wellness initiative in the Santa Clara schools, which received national media coverage. An outgrowth of that effort was Teresa’s spearheading of the effort to establish Full Circle Farm on excess fields at the Peterson Middle School site. Teresa is very proud that Santa Clara schools have been able to make academic strides and be innovative while operating under diminished and inadequate funding. Our schools continue to need all the support from our community possible. Teresa chaired the 2012 parcel tax and 2016 bond campaigns to raise more funds to such things as lower class sizes and pay for new schools and upgrades to existing schools. She also serves as president of the Santa Clara Schools Foundation and as a member of SCUSD’s Parcel Tax Oversight and Budget Advisory Committees.

In 2007, Teresa was appointed by the City Council to the Santa Clara Planning Commission. She has participated in many land use decisions, from small home remodels to commercial developments costing hundreds of millions of dollars. She has repeatedly seen how land use decisions impact surrounding residents, as well as the homeowners and businesses that want to build something new in Santa Clara. Teresa listens to all in the community very closely to understand impacts and to determine how we can come up with solutions that will work for everyone. Everyone may not always be happy, but they receive a fair hearing. Teresa wants to implement new ways of gathering ideas and feedback from the community on proposed development and to seek ways to make our planning processes even more straightforward to those applying for permits so that we increase how many people are satisfied with the outcome of their project.

Teresa also has been a member of the Santa Clara General Plan Steering Committee, which is working to establish the direction of Santa Clara for the next 25 years. On that committee, she worked to include language on smarter growth planning practices, encourage healthier communities and encourage open space uses for such things as community gardens. One of Teresa’s primary goals is to have a review of the General Plan, which did not anticipate the level of change we have been experiencing in recent years.

In this City Council election, Teresa is offering the sum of her knowledge and experience in business, government and community to continue strong leadership to our Council and direct positive change in these challenging times. Teresa is an independent thinker who first and foremost cares about the people of Santa Clara and making sure Santa Clara’s best days are yet to come. Please vote to re-elect Teresa O’Neill to Santa Clara City Council Seat 7.

You can learn more about Teresa’s background by watching this interview with the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce PAC.