Ed Berger cast his vote for Cindy Chavez in the San Jose mayor’s race, but he wasn’t totally surprised by the political veteran’s narrow loss this past week to newcomer Matt Mahan.
While he thought Chavez did a fine job representing the downtown area on the City Council years ago, the Northside Neighborhood Association president felt Mahan had tapped into a frustration among residents that put Chavez, now a Santa Clara County supervisor, on the defensive. Many feel the neighborhood has been “overrun” with homeless people, and aren’t clear what Chavez and the county – the key local provider of homeless services – have been doing to help.
“That may have been part of Cindy’s problem,” Berger said.
Now, it will become Mahan’s problem to solve. The former social media executive and schoolteacher elected two years ago to the District 10 City Council seat campaigned with a fresh Silicon Valley-style approach to use metrics and accountability to lead America’s 10th largest city. His message seemed to tap into voters’ frustration, and his personal touch – including numerous face-to-face coffees with voters – proved distinctive amid the expensive attack ads that threatened to overshadow the race.
A tent sits in the Guadalupe Gardens on Nov. 17, 2022, in San Jose, Calif. A federal judge has blocked San Jose from clearing the homeless encampment, for now. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)
“He won because he was clearly articulating a message that resonated with residents who are fed up with the current environment of trash and homelessness, and to an extent crime,” said Pierluigi Oliverio, a Willow Glen Neighborhood Association board member and former councilman, who said he was neutral in the race.
To be sure, Mahan’s message was off-putting to many. Raj Jayadev, founder of Silicon Valley De-Bug, a civil rights and criminal justice reform advocacy group in San Jose, felt the Mahan campaign rhetoric demonized the poor and desperate, and was surprised most voters went along.
“I was really concerned with the framing, how he interpreted public safety, the further criminalization of poor people, people of color and all the fallout that happens as a result,” said Jayadev, adding his nonprofit was politically neutral in the race. “San Jose is already hurting and suffering from a really challenging economic moment we’re in. The houselessness epidemic is one of the worst I’ve seen, and the idea that we might police our way out of homelessness or …read more
Source:: The Mercury News