Matt Mahan Officially Launches Bid for SJ’s D10 Council Seat

Matt Mahan finally confirmed what we all saw coming. The 36-year-old founder of civic engagement network Brigade Media reached out to Fly Tuesday to say that he sold his startup and is now officially campaigning for San Jose City Council.

“My motivation to run is really rooted in my personal experience with San Jose,” he tells Fly. “San Jose’s given me a lot. For me, it’s been a place of opportunity, and I would like to see it be a growing, vibrant city with upward mobility for everyone.”

The Blossom Valley resident is up against former Bay Area Women’s March President Jenny Higgins Bradanini in the District 10 contest to replace conservative Councilman Johnny Khamis, who in turn is eyeing state Sen. Jim Beall’s seat. While Higgins Bradanini has positioned herself as the organized labor candidate, Mahan is lining up support from the business community and tapped fellow Silicon Valley Leadership Group board member Matthew Quevedo as campaign manager.

Mahan traces his passion for the “Capital of Silicon Valley” back to his high school years, when his teacher mom and letter-carrier dad encouraged him commute from Watsonville to Bellarmine College Prep, which he attended on a work-study scholarship.

“This was in the ’90s,” he says. “I took the Highway 17 Express to Diridon Station every day, which took about two hours. It was a long journey, but one of those inflection points in one’s life where I had the foresight, I guess, of thinking that this is going to be hard but it’s going to be worth it.”

That resolve paid off, Mahan says.

Bellarmine became a launching pad, but the ties he forged with the community as a student there ultimately brought him back. After earning a bachelor’s in social studies from Harvard, he returned to teach in San Jose’s socioeconomically disadvantaged Alum Rock School District before his eventual foray into civic tech.

While Brigade required Mahan to focus on big-picture issues and building tools for millions of people, the self-described “joiner and volunteer” involved himself in local issues by signing up to serve on various local community boards, neighborhood groups and commissions. “There’s something incredibly fulfilling about the interpersonal side of local government and being face to face with people and getting to know them really personally, which is something you kind of miss in the tech sector,” he says.

With Brigade’s acquisition, Mahan’s hitting the pavement for his 2020 bid.

So far he’s wrangled endorsements from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Vice Mayor Chappie Jones, former Mayor Chuck Reed and ex-FEC Chair Ann Ravel. 

Mahan launched his campaign website this morning, so you can study up on his bio here and his policy platform here. While you’re at it, here’s the site for Higgins Bradanini.

“My wife Silvia and I are raising our daughter Nina here,” Mahan says, “so we’re really invested in making San Jose a great city for other people to start a family and have a fulfilling life through all of its stages.”

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13 Comments

  1. My usual litmus test for candidates is sending a facebook friend request. Looks like both passed.

    I have to really look at what issues each candidate is focused on. It’s kind of nice that SJI decided to do a nice piece on Mahan, the last article didn’t really give me much detail on his background.

  2. > For me, it’s been a place of opportunity, and I would like to see it be a growing, vibrant city with upward mobility for everyone.”

    I’m deducting points for his use of the word “vibrant”. I have banned the use of the word “vibrant”.

    > “My wife Silvia and I are raising our daughter Nina here,” Mahan says, “so we’re really invested in making San Jose a great city for other people to start a family and have a fulfilling life through all of its stages.”

    I wonder how Matt feels about the prospects for Silvia and Nina in a future San Jose overwhelmed by the violence, drugs, disease, and lawlessness associated with open borders, “sanctuary cities”, and never-ending “homelessness”. Does he envision doing anything more than training Silvia and Nina not to step in the poop piles and making sure their inoculations against typhus and bubonic plague are up to date?

    Matt seems like a bright, over-caffeinated do-gooder calling to mind an eager, tail-wagging puppy wanting to fetch a ball and get a pat on the head.

    I’m not writing him off at this stage. He may end up looking like Charlemagne or Winston Churchill compared to the alternatives. But I would like to see a hell of a lot more economic sophistication and policy gravitas than just showing up at virtue signalling photo ops.

    • As someone that knows Matt, and his background, personally, I would recommend you meet him. He makes himself more than available to speak with, if anything.

      As to the unrelated “sanctuary cities” point (obviously, jails are ran by counties and not cities), I would recommend researching the data before coming to a conclusion on whether their policies make cities safer or more dangerous. Seriously.

      • > As to the unrelated “sanctuary cities” point (obviously, jails are ran by counties and not cities), I would recommend researching the data before coming to a conclusion on whether their policies make cities safer or more dangerous.

        Did I somehow give the impression that I’ve just been sitting on my thumb for the last twenty years wondering if “sanctuary cities” was a good idea, and waiting for some bright young social studies major from Harvard to mansplain it to me?

        Well, actually, I’ve had an opinion on “sanctuary cities” for several weeks now. I probably should have done a better job of broadcasting it.

        Bottom line: “sanctuary cities” seems to be a bad idea, and not a good idea.

        And if Matt Mahan wants to be a grown up politician with grown up ideas, he needs to be able say cogent and coherent things on a broad range of issues that are on voters’ minds.

        Taking the position that the City Council doesn’t have anything to say about “sanctuary cities” is just duck and cover.

        The City Council is the “minor leagues” for politicians. It tests whether or not they have the vision and leadership to be considered for the big leagues some day.

        Politicians with aspirations for “public service” need a body of work bigger than “I voted for fixing potholes on the City Council and didn’t offend anyone over anything.”

      • Carlos:

        Are you a volunteer or wannabe staffer for Matt Mahan? We will be watching to see if he takes your advice and stares at his shoe laces and mumbles when someone asks him about “sanctuary cities”.

        Do you think that Matt Mahan has an opinion on “sanctuary cities” that he doesn’t want to talk about, or do you think that he doesn’t know what the hell he thinks about “sanctuary cities”?

        Neither approach is going to make him look like a “bold leader”.

  3. Jenny Higgins Bradanini

    > I’m ready to use my experience and passion to get these issues addressed, and even better, solved.

    And the issues are what? And the solutions are what?

    > I look forward to our conversations and getting your feedback about what is important to you, your family and our community.

    You want MY feedback? You want to know what is important?

    Instead of me taking time to explain civilization and world history to you, maybe it would be simpler and quicker if I just ran for City Council.

    I should probably be careful about writing my name in on the ballot. I just might win.

    • >Jenny Higgins Bradanini

      Interesting that she’s dropped a lot of the identity politics stuff. (Hopefully this comment doesn’t turn into 105 comments of “I HATE FACES, I HATE SHAY CLAUSEN, I HATE TUYEN FIACK”)

  4. Jennie is going to get her clock cleaned. I suspect labor knows this and will only give Jennie token support, and a part in the head. They will not dump “much” money into her. They know it will be a waste.

  5. > Bellarmine became a launching pad, but the ties he forged with the community as a student there ultimately brought him back. After earning a bachelor’s in social studies from Harvard, . . . .

    White male Christians (Bellarmine is a Catholic school) are notoriously UNDER REPRESENTED at Harvard. And also, Harvard is not known to be overly friendly to “papists”.

    And, the academic selectivity of Harvard is reputedly such that, if it so chose, Harvard could assemble a class ENTIRELY of candidates with 4.0 Grade Point Averages and 800 SAT scores. (It would look very Asian and lack “diversity’ however.)

    So, there’s a bit of a mystery surrounding HOW Matt Mahan got into Harvard.

    Was he recruited by the Harvard rowing team? Did an exceptionally good (and expensive) consultant arrange for a “donation” to Harvard?

    Maybe Matt Mahan is just a VERY exceptional candidate who dazzled the Harvard admissions interviewers.

    Voters in DIstrict 10 would likely be eager to know just how exceptional Matt is.

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