During his third State of the City address, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo promised on Saturday that a fractured nation will not distract the city’s efforts to promote unity, inclusion, innovation and safety.
Hundreds of residents and city staff packed Gunderson High School’s gymnasium to listen to the mayor's vision for the city.
In his speech, Liccardo offered support to immigrants, applauded the recent push to boost police staffing, vowed to create a more convenient transportation system, expressed a commitment to housing the homeless and promised a greener, safer and more beautiful San Jose.
In laying out his vision, the mayor wasted little time in turning his attention to the recent executive orders made by President Donald Trump.
“Our tale of one city embraces San Jose’s identity, our identity as immigrants,” Liccardo said. “Unlike other communities, our founding mothers and fathers had different colored skin, spoke different native languages. And to this day, our diversity is our hallmark.”
Sticking to San Jose’s commitment to its residents, Liccardo mentioned that police officers will not engage in immigration enforcement “that tear our families apart,” and for “those who seek to divide new Americans from the rest of us, we denounce the politics of fear and of exclusion.”
The mayor promised to fight for the Muslim community, dreamers and any city resident who strives to better their family’s life. Liccardo also discussed plans to boost police staffing and increase the department’s ability to respond to crimes. An increase in wages approved last week should put the San Jose Police Department in competition with neighboring cities, he said.
“I think it’s a first step in rebuilding our department,” said Deputy Chief Anthony Mata. “We have to be competitive in order to retain and recruit our officers. ... It’s a first step in doing that and I’m glad that both sides came together and came to an agreement.”
Recognizing the traffic crunch occurring on city streets and highways every day, Liccardo noted that BART service would be extended this year ahead of schedule and under budget. As for the proposed BART station downtown, there will be space for retail, housing and new office space. Despite a lack of funding, Liccardo vowed to make that all possible in the near future.
“Don’t get me wrong, we don't have the money for all of that today,” Liccardo said. “But we are going to work with our neighboring cities.”
Liccardo spoke about plans to increase minimum wage to $15 in 2019, recognizing that many San Jose residents struggle to pay rent. The mayor said the city plans on constructing more than 500 apartments for the homeless to prevent children and their families from going unsheltered.
“I support what he’s doing in favor of affordable housing—especially, he’s been very supportive of getting some good housing for the homeless sited in areas of the city like downtown,” said Sandy Perry, president of the Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County. “We’re going to have some challenges. I support working with those neighborhoods to make the neighbors welcome people to come into those housing.”
Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Liccardo said that “everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” This brought the mayor to the last point of his address: Beautify SJ.
Liccardo discussed an all-hands-on-deck approach to improving the aesthetics of the city and making it more visually appealing. The mayor plans to expand free residential dump service, boost enforcement on illegal dumping and create incentives to get teens to volunteer.
The event was emceed by Silicon Valley Education Foundation CEO Mohammed Chaudhry and featured performances by local schoolchildren. The pre-show music was provided by School of Rock and Christina Bejinez sang the National Anthem.
Pride of San Jose Awards were given to the Spartan Student Housing Team, Marcus Rosado and the late Officer Michael Katherman, among others. Community awards were also given out by each council district before Liccardo’s address.
The mayor capped the event by reminding the audience that the plans laid out will require cooperation from all members of the community.
“This will be our tale of one city,” Liccardo said. “We demonstrate the power of working together to create the most successful, multicultural community on the planet. I invite each of you to join me in writing the next chapter of our story. Together, we are San Jose.”