Does Mayor Sam Have the Votes?

People opposed to incoming Mayor-elect Sam Liccardo are also concerned with an interim appointment to the District 4 council seat, fearing it will give the mayor a governing majority. The truth is Liccardo already has a majority.

Chappie Jones won handily in District 1. Though not a Republican like predecessor Pete Constant, he will have a very conservative approach. The same people who supported the mayor backed him. In regards to development, housing and big-ticket items, Jones will probably follow Liccardo’s lead.

Magdalena Carrasco in District 5 will be a true independent. Liccardo endorsed her candidacy, even though she stayed out of the mayor’s race. Given that her constituents went with Dave Cortese, it was a smart move. Carrasco is more progressive than people give her credit, but she will likely side with the mayor when it is not antithetical to her district, making her more of an ally than opponent.

Pierluigi Oliverio in District 6 is sometimes a 10-1 vote on issues. But he is never the sixth vote for progressives. Look for him to side with the mayor on important issues and continue to be a gadfly on others.

Tam Nguyen in District 7 is another newcomer. He was not supported by the progressive elements of the community. That said, his interest is in being in power, not out of power. He is the true wildcard, but he’ll probably go with the mayor as he learns the global issues of the city.

Rose Herrera in District 8 is a solid vote for Mayor Liccardo. Had it not been for her own campaign in the primary, we might be talking about Mayor Madison Nguyen. Herrera has dreams of going to the State Assembly and offering a loyal vote to Liccardo gives her a better chance—but it’s still unlikely.

Johnny Khamis in district 10, as the lone Republican on the council with the exit of Constant and Mayor Reed, will be a team player for the new mayor on almost every issue of consequence.

Raul Peralez in district 3, Don Rocha in district 9 and Ash Kalra in district 2 are reasonable people who will work with the mayor on issues of common interest, but they can and will provide vocal opposition. The new mayor should not reject their ideas outright if the city is going to heal itself. This block represents many of the public employees Liccardo will need to implement his agenda. To play politics and ignore the three council members’ proposals—or worse, to demonize these individuals politically—would be a grave mistake unworthy of a great mayor.

The pension issue will continue to linger, but it is clear the next mayor knows he has a problem.  He has already started to broach a long overdue political solution. The courts have already thrown several parts of the law out. If he can work out a deal through negotiation that avoids the city spending more resources on a doomed appeals effort, he will have made a great start. As for other public employee issues, Liccardo understands he has a morale problem and needs to address it. San Jose has a serious deficit of police officers and it will take creativity and cooperation from his previous opponents to stem the current exodus.

Many people hope the new regime builds bridges. People who supported Cortese have had difficulty accepting the current result. But a continued entrenchment is an unnecessary political battle. People should do the math—this mayor already has what looks to be a working majority. More importantly, government is not a zero-sum game. The philosophical divide is not so great that people cannot work together on many issues. To do that, they must make the past just that.

A major opponent of the current mayor once said, “If the Mayor of San Jose is successful, San Jose is successful.” If everyone keeps that fact in mind and puts the city ahead of their egos,  San Jose will be able to move forward.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.


  1. The carnage created by Mayor Reed is incomprehensible. History will show Mayor Reed to be amongst the worst in city history. His intractable sense of pride and sociopathical personality made him devoid of any qualities a great leader possesses. Hopefully Liccardo will have greater sense of right from wrong and ethical choices than Mayor Reed. Good riddance, Mr Reed.

    • >The carnage created by Mayor Reed is incomprehensible.

      The hyperbole of your criticism is honestly pretty hilarious. Saving the city from municipal bankruptcy while managing to keep crime rates on the decline sounds like a pretty well-managed tenure, to me.

      • Please see Finfan’s response below. He explains the carnage created by the Reed administration. Surely you are smart enough to recognize I was referring to carnage in the figurative and not literal sense of the damage done, but then again, maybe not.

      • Mayor Reed’s scorched earth policies have forced 400 officers out the door of the SJPD. At a conservative figure of $150,000 invested in each officer’s training, this is loss of $60,000,000 (sixty million dollars) to the City of San Jose, due to your beloved Mayor Reed. There are another 10-15 officers resigning in December alone to go to other departments.The city is now paying millions of dollars of overtime to the few officers left due to the crisis staffing situation created by Mayor Reed. Lastly, please go talk to the citizens of East San Jose and ask them if the crime rate is down. Until then, you can continue humping the leg of Mayor Reed.

        • Yes, because you are either “humping the leg of Mayor Reed” or you acknowledge that he is the Antichrist. Thank you for your mature, nuanced perspective on politics, Observation. The next time I’m struggling to comprehend the carnage of Mayor Reed’s legacy, I might regret not voting for the candidate who wanted to keep our pension obligations higher than our property tax revenues. Of course, the statistics might say crime is on the decline, but facts aren’t important, right? It’s all about what your gut tells you about the crime rate. What FEELS true.

          Of course, according to public opinion polls, crime has been going up ever since pollsters started asking citizens if they think crime is going up. THANKS A LOT, CHUCK.

  2. While the Court invalidated some of the most significant parts of B and PERB invalidated ALL of it, Liccardo (like Reed) has said including as part of his Mayoral campaign that he intended implement as much of B as possible INCLUDING CUTTING EMPLOYYEE PAY by 16%.

    In reading Liccardo’s memo it sure seems like he is sending a message to City Employees that they need to return to negotiations and accept the CITY’s TERMS. …

    …while talking out it other side of his gaping pie hole he is prepared to extend the “detante” via the stipulation that the CITY will NOT implement B while the APPEALS process continues. Indicating that he is full prepared to Defend B in court…

    I hope it’s OK with SJC & JMO to discuss this given that Liccardo hasn’t taken office yet. Many of us skeptics have pointed out: we don’t anticipate Sam we be anything other than who he has gone to great lengths to prove he is. .

  3. To my police and fire friends.

    History has shown that attacking the mayor has resulted in.. wait for it.. a disgruntled mayor. I know these concessions are crap, and I think a part of it has been a vendetta. At the end of the day I think it’s time to rethink strategy and cast aside tactics of yesterday. I would have loved to have seen Dave as Mayor, we all would have (I especially would have loved for my kids to say at school, “My cousin is the mayor!” I threw $1100 and walked 2 precincts towards the effort.

    Anyways, let’s hope that Sam will be a little more compromising than Reed was, and let’s wait till after he screws up as mayor before we start attacking him.

    Sam, best of luck, you have a long uphill road ahead. Please do what’s right for this city, toss out measure B, restore pensions and salaries.

    • Cousin Cortese wrote: “I would have loved to have seen Dave as Mayor, we all would have… ” Well, actually not all, Cuz. But I do agree with you that new strategy is required. Could we start with a new City Attorney, with a staff of a few trial lawyers who know how to try a case instead of giving hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to the relatives of scumbags? The City hires a lot of outside counsel, apparently because the top brass believes no-one on staff is capable of handling the difficult work. Well, that’s what you get when you hire attorneys that join a trade union.

      • No JMO that is not why the City has to hire outside council. For instance In the case of Measure B the attorneys in the CA’s off are parties with an interest in the outcome of legal proceedings to invalidate “B”. They wouldn’t want to lawyer for their clients who may or may not be fools would they?

  4. Who cares, does city council forgot we already has a code enforcement code on the books for over 30 years about riding a bike on the sidewalk. If will never be enforced, But it sounds like they care.

  5. While there can be no mistaking that bad blood exists between Sam Liccardo and the POA, it would be a huge mistake to base any approach to settling the important issues between them as having anything to do with a healing process (or anything else emotion-based). Whatever anger and resentment that exists within the membership of the POA it pales in significance to the irreversible damage that’s been needlessly done to the San Jose police department.

    Contrary to the dishonest spin provided by Reed, Liccardo, and the Mercury News, none of the many warnings and proposals issued by the POA during the last two years have had anything to do with undoing damage or repairing relationships, something no more possible to do than it would be for a shooter to undo the damage or repair a relationship with someone he’d gut shot. The losses sustained and beyond recovery (the names number in the hundreds) are like blood spilled on the street; the loss of vitality and promise weighs heavy; the recognition of the harm done burns like the wrath of the most vengeful of victims. SJPD is not in need of pain relief and a few stitches, it is in need of emergency care, a prolonged series of transfusions, and a great deal of luck.

    If Sam Liccardo thinks there’s much to save at SJPD he’s dumber than I thought. How do you save men and women who’ve been forced to work for less pay and with less protection, have been subjected to public insults, and have spent the last several years counting their wounds and burning with resentment?

    What there is to save, to a degree, is the welfare of this city, which can be best accomplished by putting an end to the political and legal aspects of this debacle and make staying — at least to retirement age, a viable option for officers who might otherwise be on the fence. That is step one, but it cannot be accomplished if issues remain unsettled as tolerance for Reed-like nonsense has been exhausted. Those directly affected are the most important group, as they are the ones who are still a decade or more away from retirement and ripe for plucking by competing agencies, and because their presence will be needed to marshal in the many new hires that are needed (and will begin to arrive after step one). The injection of stability that will come with step one will do much to make those nearing retirement (a considerable number) more likely to ignore their injury portfolios and finish out their careers on the street.

    With luck, SJPD will limp forward for the next five years, slowly filling its ranks (but doing so with the young and inexperienced) and laying down a foundation for the future. But given the need that every big department has for a wealth of experience and expertise, Chuck Reed will be good and dead before SJPD rises again.

    With the Public Relations Employee Board’s decision (in the firefighter’s case) Sam Liccardo was delivered the justification politically necessary for invalidating Measure B and doing the right thing for the residents of this city, as that decision is a powerful, persuasive signal of things to come (no matter how many more millions are wasted on litigation). Or, he could show what he learned from Chuck Reed, the master of disaster, and use that decision to doom himself and this city to a very ugly future.

  6. > With luck, SJPD will limp forward for the next five years, slowly filling its ranks (but doing so with the young and inexperienced) and laying down a foundation for the future.

    Sounds like a plan.

    • SJPD is hiring now for the next Academy Class which the City budgeted to accommodate 60 recruits. SJPD has had trouble (real trouble) seating 30. ( current class hired 29 or 30 and only 24 showed up for day 1). I have heard that SJPD will be extatic if they can get 20 recruits offered jobs for the next academy class.

      Healing??? Hmmm. 31-38 retirements hitting in January 2015. There is a lot more than healing that needs to happen.

  7. Mayor Reed turned the noble honor of being a SJPD officer, from a profession and calling, into merely a job. A replaceable widget. Until that is fixed, officers will leave for other departments where they can view their career as something more than merely a job. Potential recruits will go to other departments as well, and no experienced officers will come to San Jose, something unheard of until the Reed regime. Is Mayor-elect Liccardo willing or able to address this? Time will tell.

  8. We keep hearing from many posters and Jim Unland that cops are leaving SJ for other jurisdictions in droves because the pay and benefits in SJ are the worst of any local jurisdiction. And how is it that all these other jurisdictions are hiring? How is it that all these other jurisdictions have the money to pay cops salary and benefits, including pensions, more than SJ does? How do they do it, and how come SJ does not? Until we know the why of it, we cannot move toward fixing it.

    • JMO a Web search or youtube search for a video called “San Jose by the numbers – Fiscal Challenges” by Bob Brownstein will explain the problem in under 20 minutes.

      • Bob spins so much, he could power a city.

        I only say this because he mentions “The city gave $6m to a local business” I’m guessing he’s referring to San Pedro Square.

        Why doesn’t Bob mention who was in office when the grant was given? Why doesn’t he say, “McEnery” I agree with him, but it wasn’t “Reed and his Minions” that gave that money out.

        I did my own digging in 2010, and came to the same conclusions Bob presented, only difference is I hold those that brought us here accountable.

        • “Bob spins so much, he could power a city.” Something we can agree upon, Cousin Cortese.

  9. Thank you, Meyer. I have seen it. Bob is a worthy advocate, but hardly unbiased. He has an axe to grind, and has always done it well. He chooses to see and advocates strongly for only one side of the story. He always has and he always will. That’s what advocates do. But conciliation is not in his toolbox. Just read his November 9 diatribe in the Murky News. Therefore, Bob would be the last person who could help organized labor and the City come to an accord. The parties need conciiators now, not advocates; people who want solutions, not people who advocate positions. Bob’s explanation can account for but a part of the story–his part.

    We need new players in the game on both sides if we are to resolve this continuing crisis. I don’t think either Sam or Dave are the ones to represent the city. Unland will be gone, and that is a good thing as far as a chance at resolution is concerned. His replacement needs to be a conciliator. The POA needs to choose wisely. Sam needs to choose wisely, as well. He is unlikely to get it done personally.

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