It keeps you up at night. You toss, you turn. You absentmindedly carry out the daily routine: brush teeth; wash face; one pant leg and then two. And yet, you can’t shake it. Your waking hours are consumed by a single question, a question that gnaws at your very soul:
Putting aside the fact that you desperately need a hobby, the question received a partial answer at the end of last year with little to no fanfare. Madison Nguyen, San Jose’s vice mayor and councilmember for District 7, filed paperwork Dec. 19 with the City Clerk’s office declaring her intent to run for mayor.
Nguyen says her early entry to the race had more to do with outreach than fundraising, as candidates won’t be able to start collecting campaign cash until this coming December.
“Ill be honest with you—a city of a million people, I want to take every opportunity I have to get out there and find what people want and need from our elected officials,” she says.
Nguyen is the
first second person to file such paperwork, and she makes for an intriguing candidate. Her intrigue stems not from her gender, even though few females are expected to take part in the race; and it has little to do with the fact that she is Vietnamese-American, which will undoubtedly play a role in how she targets voters.
The most intriguing part of Nguyen’s campaign will be where she finds institutional support.
While Nguyen once enjoyed a good relationship with the South Bay Labor Council, those days are a distant memory since the passage of measures V, W, B and a few other letters to throw in the soup. County Supervisor Dave Cortese, formerly the vice mayor of San Jose, has not yet said if he will run for mayor, but it’s no secret he is labor’s preferred candidate.
District 3 Councilmember Sam Liccardo is another likely candidate, who, like Cortese, has not declared an intent to run but has been quietly solidifying his base of support with business and the Chamber of Commerce. Former San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery and Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino have both been making calls on Liccardo’s behalf.
“I’m going into this campaign, knowing that I will probably not get support form the Chamber of Commerce and South Bay Labor Council,” Nguyen says. “What I want to do is maintain an independent voice, and not necessarily be influenced by powerful forces in the city.”
Nguyen survived a 2009 recall effort in her second term due to the naming of a Vietnamese shopping district, which was eventually named Little Saigon, not her original choice. But the vice mayor says that saga is “water under the bridge.”
“During the Lunar New Year celebration, I sat down and had tea with a lot of these folks, who a couple years ago opposed me,” she says. “Now we’re sitting down and talking about the future.”
UPDATE: The City Clerk’s Office said on Thursday that Louis Garza was the first person to file a “Candidate Intentions Statement” for the 2014 mayoral race. While the spelling of the first name is different, this is probably the same Garza who ran for mayor in 2001 and got arrested for being drunk in public. A phone number listed on Garza’s 2012 filing has been disconnected.