Cindy Chavez Enters San Jose Mayor’s Race (Again)

Fifteen years after being trounced by Chuck Reed in her 2006 run for mayor of San Jose, county supervisor Cindy Chavez has decided to give it another shot. She joins a growing field that includes three current city councilpersons: Willow Glen’s Dev Davis, Almaden Valley representative Matt Mahan and fellow labor-aligned D3 successor Raul Peralez.

The consummate political insider unveiled her campaign theme—“a city of equals”—Thursday in front of her home in the Naglee Park neighborhood.

“I want to live in a city of equals. A city where birthplace and birthright and birth color and birth gender don't make a difference,” Chavez said.

The Sept. 30 event was emceed by Carl Guardino, former CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group industry lobbying coalition and a resident of the valley’s most exclusive community, Monte Sereno.

In addition to Guardino, Chavez was flanked by Assemblyman and former Campbell Mayor Evan Low, Gilroy Councilwoman Rebecca Almendarez, council aide Helen Chapman and jewelry and pawn shop owner Jan Schneider, a former downtown association president. Chavez spoke for six minutes at the end of the 45-minute event, which included endorsement speeches punctuated by claps and woohoos.

“She is one tough cookie,” Low said and described her frequent phone calls to request state money for Santa Clara County during the pandemic.

Chavez entered the 2006 mayoral race as frontrunner but ended the runoff with 39.74% amidst voter anger over the scandals that plagued the administration of Ron Gonzales, in which she served as vice mayor. They included a $4 million subsidy to the San Jose Grand Prix, which Chavez sprung on her colleagues at the last moment and sparked the effort to institute a sunshine ordinance that now requires council members to propose matters before agendas are circulated.

After Chavez lost the election, she established a short-lived political consulting firm that was paid $84,500 to establish a foundation for the East Side Union High School District. In 2009 she returned to her former employer, the South Bay Labor Council, where she worked for the next four years as its CEO, as well as of its sister organization, Working Partnerships USA.

After her political ally, County Supervisor George Shirakawa, resigned and was jailed as part of a felony guilty plea for political corruption, Chavez sought and won a special election in 2013. She has been re-elected twice as supervisor and has been a champion of tax measures for transportation, health care and homelessness reduction.

“We have housed 5,000 homeless people,” Chavez said on Thursday.

Chavez’s  term on the Board of Supervisors runs through 2024.

Cindy Chavez Campaign Kickoff Video


  1. She lost by 20 percentage points 15 years ago but apparently needs to be reminded why she was a failed candidate in the first place. Peralez gained more credibility with more people in a fraction of the time that Cindy did during her city council tenure and the lack of ethics that she has displayed and that this article references will only drag her down further as an albatross for her campaign.

  2. HAHAHahaha I love this, because of this comment about Matt Mahan.

    In it, Salem goes into great lengths to connect the dots between Mahan, Guardino, and the Skull and Crossbones club at Harvard. Yet here he is emceeing at Cindy’s shindig.

    As far as this article and Cindy go…

    Cindy’s hit a few bumps in her career, sure, and this article details them. None of them would deter me from voting or endorsing her. Matt is the same way though. I’m going to wait and see on this race though. I’ve hung out with her a few times, really nice, old school San Jose person that has insight into our culture that a lot of folks don’t.

    @Dan Pulcrano

    Remember that time when I was working at 7 Bamboo and we were out back chatting it up? We were talking about making the San Jose Mile all electric so we could pack the fairgrounds with folks like in this video again.

    You were like, “YA THAT WOULD BE COOL CORTESE! THE COUNTY COULD INSTALL SOLAR PANELS AND THE CARS COULD BE CHARGED WITH THEM!” (Great idea BTW) Here’s the thing man, I’ve talked to a lot of people that are resentful we got rid of the San Jose Grand Prix. Cindy understood that San Jose has a race culture born of the auto plants that used to be here because she’s been here that long. I wouldn’t doubt that she’s probably enjoyed an overpriced hot dog and a warm beer at the mile.

    We have problems right now with sideshows. Imagine electric sideshows at the fairgrounds. Guys electrifying their own cars, doing donuts, sending up big billowing clouds of rubber smoke. Drifting around the mile. Rebuilt grandstands filled with 1000’s of people. Millions in tax revenue a year from sales tax, and a good chunk of change from the state/fed for building a solar farm on the site. We’re taking care of several problems in one swoop, and if there is any politician that could understand how freaking cool it would be to revive the mile, it would be Cindy.

    We could be the first E-Track in the country.

    Matt’s a bit young, maybe too young to have been out there. I have no doubt that with his tech background Matt could envision this too, but Matt lacks the deep rooted connections Cindy has. Maybe swinging over to BOS would be a good step for Matt, then he could work with Cindy on this kind of initiative.

    Moving on;

    I find it odd that you guys would mention Shirakawa, when Shirakawa’s niece is rumored to be on city council but it was never once mentioned. Anyways, I like Cindy, she’s good people. BTW earlier where I said “Bumps” in her career? It’s kind of like a car, if it’s been on the road a while it’s going to have a few scratches here and there, adds character. Matt is a shiny new car. Both have their good/bad points.

  3. From the article, “I want to live in a city of equals. A city where birthplace and birthright and birth color and birth gender don’t make a difference,” Chavez said. Since she lives here, then all must be equal. Alrighty then, but it sounds like there is something else.

    There has been no major issues of gender or birth color since I can remember going back to at least the 70s. But what could she be alluding to regarding birthplace and birthright? Is there some discrimination or equity issue about these? Certainly there isn’t because the county has sanctuary status and already does not cooperate with Federal officials to return undocumented criminals, and just releases them back into society, but what is the birthright angle? She needs to be transparent and explain what she means by this.

  4. It is quite possible that Carl Guardino has judged Matt Mahan to be too inexperienced–and with too narrow a support base–to be viable as very his next Manchurian mayor. Following in the footsteps of a shill like Sam Liccardo requires more proficiency than Mahan possesses at this stage in his career. However, Guardino’s and the business lobbies’ considerable financial and promotional support for Mahan during and after his successful council seat campaign (;; suggest he and they are anticipating generous returns and rewards from new council member in good time. The historical evidence tells us that Guardino and associates can walk and chew gum at the same time: they have sufficient resources to season and cure Mahan for the long-term while intervening in any number of other campaigns and lobbying exercises. Mahan can rest assured that he remains a valued asset in Il Capo’s diversified portfolio of pay-for-play politicians.

    Speaking of a diversified portfolio, powerful interests these days are keen on leveraging “diverse identities” in their advocacy projects. Let’s remember that Bloom Energy lobbyists led by Guardino were able to win over three of five Hispanic council members to achieve Bloom’s deadly exemption from the city’s carbon-reduction targets in November 2020. Arenas, Esparza and Jimenez joined Liccardo, Jones, Khamis, Diep and Davis ( Guardino can say that a majority of Hispanic council members ultimately acted in ways inimical to the community they ostensibly represent in order to accommodate narrow and nefarious interests. So why not build on such a success with “people of color” by supporting an Hispanic woman candidate with a significant career of obliging elites?

    For her part, Chavez can leverage her faux progressivism, like her State Assembly supporter Evan Low, to posture on social issues while strictly conforming to neoliberal orthodoxy on economic ones like social safety nets and taxation ( That she appeals to powerful elites tells us as much about Chavez as it does about those elites ( Being “on board” and “with the program” is, of course, requisite for her. For the elites, it’s all about putting like-minded people of color out front to disguise and deflect from the fact that the power structure remains largely white and wealthy. To suggest otherwise is a conceit promoted mainly by wealthy white liberals who, by supporting Chavez and other elite and elite-serving Hispanics, can both relieve guilt and instrumentalize Hispanic identity to further their own ends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *