Liccardo Possesses Slim Lead in San Jose Mayor’s Race in Wee Hours of Election Night

Just as we predicted in March 2012, a Sicilian American, Bellarmine-educated attorney was elected mayor of San Jose this week. Which one, we didn’t really think it was worth staying up until daylight to find out, just like the 60-plus percent of San Jose registered voters who didn’t bother to cast ballots.

We’ve been through these cliffhangers before, in the Hammer-Fiscalini nail-biter in 1997 and the Gonzales-Dando contest in 1998. This time around it was Sam Liccardo holding a thin 2-percentage point edge over Dave Cortese. (UPDATE: Liccardo declared victory Wednesday morning. See below for more details.)

Liccardo—donning a navy blue suit, white shirt, red tie and his signature guffaw—delivered what for all intents and purposes was a victory speech about a quarter after 10 at the Gordon Biersch brewery in Japantown. Only 58 of 495 precincts had reported, but mayor gon’ do what a mayor gon’ do.

“I’m cautiously optimistic, but that’s what they all say,” said Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone, 73, who claims to have spent 20 hours over the past few weekends knocking on doors for the downtown councilman. “If you endorse someone, you better goddamn well work for them.”

About 500 people packed into the warehouse, surrounded by massive fermenting tanks and conveyor belts. Guests dined on tacos and stood in a long, meandering lines to re-up on pints. Copies of Liccardo’s self-published tome were fanned out on tables like party favors.

Mayor Chuck Reed and Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen dipped out early, but Liccardo’s City Council colleagues Pete Constant, Johnny Khamis and erstwhile opponent in the mayoral contest, Rose Herrera, stuck around for the later round of returns. Also milling about, no surprise, was former mayor Tom McEnery and San Jose-Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Matt Mahood, who later told Fly that he stopped by Cortese’s bash to the surprise of many. “Why do you think I might be here?” he told them “[Cortese] could be mayor.”

The mood in the downtown Marriott ballroom was festive as well, until the Santa Clara County registrar of Voters ran an hour later on the crucial 10 o’clock return. Cortese admitted, “It’s probably going to be hard to sleep,” but that he’d be staying up as late as 4am—the time county ROV Shannon Bushey told Fly would be the best time to get clear results.

Cortese didn’t let on that he was disappointed in the early returns—well he didn’t have much of chance. While he was answering Fly’s question a woman asked, “Is the evil Metro guy giving you a hard time?” One of Cortese’s three bodymen for the night (he had two security guards), Scott Strickland, a chief of staff for Cortese’s county supervisor colleague Cindy Chavez, deadpanned, “Not for long.” It turned out the shade thrower was Sheriff Laurie Smith having a little fun at Fly’s expense.

UPDATE: Sam Liccardo held a press conference Wednesday morning to declare himself the winner of the San Jose mayor's race. The announcement was made despite the fact that tens of thousands of ballots have yet to be counted by the Registrar of Voters. Dave Cortese has yet to concede, and his spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Below is Liccardo's statement:

"This morning I am so grateful to the people of San José. Although some late ballots are still being counted, my lead has held steady, and I want to thank the thousands of voters who believed that we can make our city safer and stronger through smarter government.

“After several difficult years, I believe San José can come together, put aside old arguments and old divisions and work for a brighter future. Today I will begin reaching out to community leaders across the city – no matter who they supported in this race – to start working on solutions. I might not always agree with everyone, but I promise this – to anyone who wants to make this city better for everyone, I will listen to you and I will try hard to work with you to meet our common goals and build a safer, stronger city.

“I am ready to lead San Jose through the challenges ahead to improve public safety, restore services, grow our economy and provide more opportunities for our children and all residents of this great city.

“I want to thank Supervisor Cortese for his leadership and work. And I thank Mayor Chuck Reed, former Mayors Susan Hammer, Tom McEnery and Ron James and so many others for their help and advice over the last several months. In particular, I am so grateful to my wife, Jessica Garcia-Kohl, for her love, patience and support.

“Thank you to everyone who worked to hard to get us here. Now it’s time to get to work!”

UPDATE, 1:43pm: Cortese sent out a press release saying that with tens of thousands of votes yet to be counted and only about 2,000 separating the two candidates, the race remains "officially too close to call." Below is Cortese's statement:

“So far in this election about 109,106 ballots have been counted in San José and we know tens of thousands more are yet to be counted. Out of respect to our supporters and the voters in general, I want to let all votes be counted before making a conclusive statement. Although I congratulated Sam Liccardo this morning on running a great campaign, this race is still too close to call. I'm confident in the democratic process and want everyone to understand that every vote does indeed count."

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27 Comments

  1. So Fly, whoever you are, two years from now do we get from you a hard hitting assessment of the winner’s policies and effectiveness? Right here, right now, make a commitment. Or would that jeopardize future parking lot agreements?

    • > two years from now do we get from you a hard hitting assessment of the winner’s policies and effectiveness?

      I can write that assessment for you right now: “Gee, the mess was worse than I thought, and it was Bush’s fault.”

      • He’ll win…
        Sam Riccardo did a good job to get most of Madison Nguyen’s voters by asking voters in Vietnamese on Vietnamese radio stations. Dave Cortese didn’t do that.
        We know Dave would be a better Mayor, but this is the power of media which targets under-informed voters who would vote for the candidate whose name ‘s referred a lot on radio or TV.
        As a resident in District 3 under Sam Riccardo for the last 7 years, he didn’t have anything for neighborhood safety or community development…Zero. Good luck with the City of San Jose in the hand of the man who failed to run his own district.

    • Sam Riccardo did a good job to get most of Madison Nguyen’s voters by asking voters in Vietnamese on Vietnamese radio stations. Dave Cortese didn’t do that.
      We know Dave would be a better Mayor, but this is the power of media which targets under-informed voters who would vote for the candidate whose name ‘s referred a lot on radio or TV.
      As a resident in District 3 under Sam Riccardo for the last 7 years, he didn’t have anything for neighborhood safety or community development…Zero. Good luck with the City of San Jose in the hand of the man who failed to run his own district.

      • > As a resident in District 3 under Sam Riccardo for the last 7 years, he didn’t have anything for neighborhood safety or community development….

        Probably the reason that you were so disappointed in Mr. Riccardo’s representation of District 3 is that he was just faking it, and only pretending to be your Council member.

        Your real council member was Sam Liccardo. Maybe you should have called his office if you had an issue.

        • Every day, I am more and more dazzled by your brilliance, SJOUTSIDETHEBUBBLE. You take aimless snark and self-satisfaction to a new level. I will spend the rest of the afternoon in deep contemplation over which part of my post you will quote in the lead-up to your response.

    • Dear BO:

      I suspect the unions came out very well, thank you very much.

      Union friendly Jerry Brown was re-elected.

      The $68 billion Christmas tree of union jobs, the High Speed Rail, will forge ahead.

      California has $330 billion in UNFUNDED liabilities. Much of that is pensions to government employee union retirees.

      Instead of asking voters to curtail and realistically fund government pensions, Brown just chose to distract voters and have them look the other way, by voting to support a “rainy day fund”.

      What rainy day?

      Why that rainy day when California can’t pay it’s retirees. THAT rainy day.

      The SJPOA loss of it’s fat pensions and it’s friendly candidate, Dave Cortese, is just a pin prick in the grand scheme of things.

      The money gusher of tax money for public employee unions is still gushing.

      • Dear Bubbles,
        It is gratifying to know you still harbor an unfounded fear and loathing for public employees. It is a waste of breath to debate anything you have come up with in your rant.
        I will get a pension, that is true, but FAR from what you would have people believe. You really should go to the nearest Firehouse, Police Substation or friendly neighborhood Police Officer or Firefighter, and seek the truth. When you see what extraordinary people they are, and realize that they pay into a retirement system MORE than the average worker will ever pay…..then I might share a discussion with you.

        • > When you see what extraordinary people they are, and realize that they pay into a retirement system MORE than the average worker will ever pay…..then I might share a discussion with you.

          “Let’s have a discussion . . . but FIRST you have to agree with me.”

          • Wow….if thats what you got out of my statement, you are more jaded and bitter than I first thought.
            Does it hurt when you see Police Officers and Firefighters? I cant imagine your pain…I truly feel sorry for you.

    • No union bashing…Just time to start to turn the page and givethe new leadership the benefit of the doubt. A great mix of public servants also including Jones, Peralez and Nguyen who have differing ideologies but great passion for the city.

      • SJC – the only bright spot is that Raul won and will be the go to voice on the council for logic and reason regarding how to fix the current public safety crisis we’re in.

        I have plenty of faith in Sam Liccardo (should he emerge victorious)… He’s demonstrated that he is willing to lie, vacate his position, overlook facts and have convenient bouts of amnesia. I have faith he will continue to do these things, hijack future negotiations, and claim any future victories this council achieves with regard to fixing the public safety problem.

        • You supported Racist Carpet Bagger Paul Fong over Chappie Jones? Explain that decision……..Outside of that, the election is over – who knows, Sam may surprise you – be an optimist.

          • Haha “racist carpet bagger” that describes Reed, Jones, Madison Nguyen and how many other clients campaign consultant Vic Ajlouny – who lives in Nebraska and sued the US for not allowing him to collect his paycheck from the Palestine Liberation Organization during the Arafat days.

  2. This is terrible news for the citizens of San Jose.

    If Sam holds the lead into a final victory, there will continue to be more resignations from SJPD, possibly at a pace we have not seen before. I know of many who were on the fence about leaving with the hope Dave would be elected, but vowed to leave as soon as possible if Sam were to be elected.

    SJPD sits at approximately 900 sworn active duty as of this moment. Come 11/5/2015, I predict that number to be 750 or lower. At that rate, there is almost no possible way this department will continue to function, and consolidation with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office will be inevitable.

    If you call this a doomsday scenario, I urge you to make a copy of this, print it out, paste it on your bulletin board and call me out in a year if I’m wrong. San Jose is screwed..

    • My friends, I urge you all, if you think you might need the services of a cop or fire fighter in the future, to please, call now. After a year or two of (mayor) Liccardo, a year or two will probably be the average response time from the few dozen cops or the half dozen fire fighters and paramedics responding from the few fire stations that will still be staffed.

      The problem with the police department is not so much that officers are leaving to other agencies or retiring as fast as they can, the problem is that SJPD cannot even find enough recruits to fill even half of an Academy class because after Measure B, SJPD offers the worst pay and benefits of any law enforcement agency in the Bay Area,if not of all major city police departments in California. Let us not forget too that lower wages attract a lower quality of worker which results in an inferior delivery of services.

      And just to be clear, SJPD is unable to even attract recruits at all, and this occurs long before the SJPOA even knows who these recruits are, much less has any opportunity to talk to them. The SJPOA does not need to dissuade people from applying to or quitting SJPD, as a failed recruit/winner had alleged. Reed and Liccardo have already done that with Measure B.

      As crime goes up so do insurance rates for homeowner and auto insurance due to the increased probability of theft and vandalism. Insurance companies are aware of this and are already making rate adjustments. If you do not believe this is happening, I strongly suggest that you pull your head out of the Measure B ostrich hole that Reed and Liccardo have shoved it in.

      Reed and Liccardo are wealthy and come from wealthy families. I don’t begrudge them that but they can afford an increase in their insurance premiums and they can afford to replace their stuff if it is damaged or stolen. I can’t!

  3. If Liccardo’s slim lead turns into a victory, San Jose will have for its mayor a lawyer who has proved (via his disdain for the sanctity of contracts with his support of Measure B, and his disrespect for due process with his despicable race-baiting in front of the NAACP*) he has no respect for the law or the judicial system. In other words, this city is in for Reed 2.0.

    Anyone who believes Sam Liccardo will be able to settle things with public safety, or find a way to fill police academies, is a committed fool. I say committed because we’ve already seen the pre-Measure B warnings come true (mass exodus, recruiting trouble) only to be met with denials from Measure B supporters. These people are willing fools, and are thus beyond reach. Now the only question is how much longer can they hold on to their cherished deceptions?

    *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_HuSnqtFzo

  4. > If you call this a doomsday scenario, I urge you to make a copy of this, print it out, paste it on your bulletin board and call me out in a year if I’m wrong. San Jose is screwed..

    OK. Got it.

    Pasted on my wall.

    “Call Steve on 11/5/2015″

    What’s your phone number?

    • How about a simple metric to judge Sam’s first year in office by? His plan/promise to add 200 more police officers to SJPD! Let’s hold his feet to the fire though beuse there us plenty of wiggle room for Sam… Budgeted Staffing at SJPD is 1109 officers whole actually is 886.

      Let’s hold Sam to increasing the NET by 200 – other wise he will accomplish a simple thing snd approve increasing the budgeted strength to 1309 knowing as he knows now that SJPD is in a recruiting crisis. He will do as he does now and tout the “great savings Measure B ” has garnerered simply due to budgeted money saved on unfilled police positions – part of the message the Merc and SJI have spread to its readers on Sam and Reed’s behalf.

  5. It is deeply disheartening to me see a low voter turn out every election year. What concerns me most is that the very people who are affected most by the decisions these elected make, didn’t even bother to vote. I don’t know what it will take to get them off their lazy butts and vote.

    As to the Mayor’s race, I’ll wait until the final vote is counted until I believe anything I hear or read.

  6. Dang I didnt look at the by line until after on posted twice to another anonymous blog by The Fly.