If it walks like a re-election campaign, and talks like a re-election campaign, it probably is.
Fresh off what he called a “victory” in his administration’s first budget, San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan continues a high-visibility, aggressive approach to the “Back to Basics” themes of battling crime and urban blight that he raised in his election campaign, hitting the streets in neighborhoods, involving community volunteers – and embracing his political opponents.
After first getting the City Council to agree to diverting millions for tiny “quick-build” homes for unhoused residents, the mayor last weekend announced a war on drug dealers and worked with volunteers to clean up public spaces in downtown and East San Jose neighborhoods.
In the 2022 mayoral race, city police union PACs raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in an unsuccessful effort to defeat Mahan and elect Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.
With the next mayoral election less than 17 months away, Mahan’s weekend efforts began to lay the foundation for the uniforms’ support in a reelection campaign.
Mahan shared a podium with Police Chief Anthony Mata to deliver a strong anti-drug message:
“I am standing with Police Chief Mata and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office today to send a message: If you are coming to San Jose to deal drugs, you will be arrested. If you are buying drugs, we will find you treatment.”
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for drug dealing, drug buying and drug use on our city streets and are doing everything we can to make sure San Jose remains the safest big city in the Bay Area,” Mahan said.
Mata took to the podium, adorned with a “Matt Mahan – Getting San Jose Back to Basics” sign, and welcomed the mayor’s support of more aggressive anti-drug efforts.
Mahan also announced at his Saturday press conference that he is supporting a bill under consideration in Sacramento that would enact major changes to California’s behavioral health law, and perhaps make it easier for local officials to deal with mental health problems faced by police and other public employees. The law would update a 1967 law that some see as an impediment to providing mental health treatment for those most in need.
Political support from labor unions and their PACS also helped elect two council members – Peter Ortiz and Omar Torres – who rolled up their sleeves with Mahan in the past week in city cleanup efforts. The pair had campaigned with Chavez, who also had strong labor support.
In Ortiz’ District 5, in the Hillview North and Capitol-Goss neighborhoods, city crews, in an effort co-hosted by Ortiz and the mayor, filled 22 dumpsters with trash.
“That’s a ton of junk! We made San Jose Cleaner,” exclaimed Mahan in a press release. “Together, we are creating a San Jose we can all be proud to call home.”
Mahan said that each week this summer, he and council members will host a community cleanup event with neighborhood volunteers solicited by flyers distributed door-to-door.
In Torres’ downtown District 3, city staff and local business owners were briefed by Mahan on his new proactive Code Enforcement teams to address blight downtown.
Mahan promised that “the new program will help make San Jose a cleaner city by holding absentee property owners accountable for graffiti and blight. Mahan said the council approval of the budget this month meant the city “will be shifting dollars away from slow and expensive strategies toward immediate solutions to the homelessness crisis on our streets. We will be taking common sense steps to make San Jose a safer and cleaner city.”
Mahan praised the council for approving 93% of the dollars he had sought to address homelessness, blight and crime over the next 12 months.