San Jose is getting a new mayor.
With incumbent Mayor Sam Liccardo fired, voters have two candidates to decide between: Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who is heavily supported by labor interests, and City Councilman Matt Mahan, who is largely supported by the city’s business community.
Both candidates are clear on the hot topics—affordable housing, crime, homelessness and jobs—but each wants to tackle those issues a little differently.
“We’re going to clean up San Jose again,” Chavez said.
“All these issues we’re talking about are interconnected,” Mahan said.
Candidates weave a message to voters of more housing and jobs with less crime.
“VTA has about 200 acres across the county that are around transit hubs,” Chavez said. “We are looking for the construction of apartments and jobs, which means that for each of these locations we will build 30% of the apartments that will be affordable there.”
“What that means is that even though we’ve had a couple of tough years and we’ve seen some of these problems get worse,” Mahan said. “It also means that if we start to get the right policies in place, there can be a positive spin-off and a virtuous cycle, where building more housing can create more affordability, which means less economic stress, which means less crime.”
Mahan is relatively new to local politics, having served a year on the San Jose City Council. He has previous experience in technology and Teach for America and said fresh eyes are what the city needs.
Chavez has spent more than two decades in various public offices and said the experience will benefit the city. She said she will begin her term as mayor working to improve San Jose’s homelessness and safety record.
“One of the things I want to make sure people understand is that San Jose is open for business,” she said. “We’re going to build that house, we’re going to hire the police officers we need to make San Jose safer, we’re going to continue to house the homeless, more efficient and effective at doing that than we have been in the past. “
Day one of the Mahan administration, he said, would include a more efficient city government.
“I think a lot of people are frustrated with the fact that their taxes have gone up, we’ve kept passing bonds, and yet homelessness, crime, housing affordability has frankly gotten worse,” he said.
When it comes to endorsements, Chavez has received support from the San Jose Police Association and task forces. Mahan has support from Liccardo along with several business groups.