While it might not signal a real truce in the endless, tedious factional conflict that is San Jose politics, the business community extended an olive branch to local unions last week. The setting was a soiree introducing Matt Mahood, the new CEO of the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The labor-affiliated members of the City Council—Xavier Campos, Kansen Chu, Nancy Pyle and Ash Kalra—were all in attendance, as might be expected. But so were their union-leader allies, many of whom had never seen the inside of a weekly chamber mixer, much less a gala baton-passing.
Neil Struthers, CEO of the building and construction trade union, received an invite, as did longtime political aide Mike Potter—the hubby of South Bay Labor Council chieftain Cindy Chavez. Neither had gotten much love from the Chamber during the five-year reign of former CEO Pat Dando.
Dando herself did not attend the event—either graciously stepping aside for her successor, or shunning the party. There were however plenty of usual suspects also in attendance. Councilmember Pete Constant—once a candidate to replace Dando—was just one of several Silicon Valley Republicans pressing the flesh.
It’s tough to say what to make of Mahood’s debut. Labor leaders mingling amicably with chamber folks could signal a new era. Or it could just mean Mahood, who spent the last nine years in the CEO role of Sacramento’s Chamber, picks his guest list with the political savvy of a man who has been hanging around the Capitol for a decade.