San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed Takes Long View in Final State of the City Speech

Chuck Reed spent much of his eighth and final State of the City speech thanking his predecessors while noting that a mayor’s work goes on long after he or she leaves office. Reed and and his fellow elected officials in San Jose have stood “on the shoulders of giants,” he said, and the work the council has carried out in recent years must be viewed outside the prism of four-year term limits.

“We have to think in much longer timeframes,” Reed said.

In front of roughly 1,000 people Thursday in the grand ballroom at the recently renovated McEnery Convention Center, Reed noted the contributions of previous mayors, such as Ron Gonzales, Susan Hammer and Tom McEnery. He also reminded the audience just how difficult a position the city was in when he moved from the City Council to the mayor’s office in 2007. “[W]e were suffering from our sixth straight year of budget deficits,” Reed said. “Red ink was projected for years to come, and that was before the Great Recession.”

Since that time, the city has slashed hundreds of jobs, cut wages and passed controversial arbitration and pension reform measures. The city has also begun to slowly restore core services as development picks up around the region.

Reed noted that “much of what we started will be carried out by the next mayor and council and will benefit future generations.”

Among his accomplishments, Reed said, more than 90 ethical and open government reforms have been put in place since he first came on to the City Council. The mayor also took time to point out San Jose’s lead on green energy projects, including “the nation’s first organics-to-biogas facility.”

“Our Green Vision has … put San Jose on the path to be the world center of clean-tech innovation,” he said.

Reed’s legacy without question will be tied to his pension reform platform. Despite criticism and litigation, Reed staunchly defended Measure B.

“These ongoing savings helped us avoid service cuts this year and vastly outweigh the one-time costs of defending our pension reforms in court,” he said. “Once the legal case is resolved, we will get additional savings that will allow San Jose to restore more services.

“We refused to kick the can down the road as has been done in many other cities.”

With less than year left on his term, Reed said public safety will be the his top priority, including the restaffing of the police department, improving fire department’s response times, reducing homelessness and expanding community outreach. Increasing library hours and addressing a $900 million backlog in street and infrastructure repairs will require solutions in the future.

“We’ve slowed down skyrocketing costs, we’ve captured economic growth and we’ve laid the groundwork for a strong and sustainable future,” Reed said. “But regrettably, our fiscal challenges have not gone away and this is not a problem we can solve this year.”

Reed also championed the city’s efforts to “cut red tape” and reduce permitting fees.

“Our plan has paid off big time,” he said. “Since 2010, over $3 billion worth of major projects have been built or have started construction in San Jose, including the Samsung America headquarters, high-rise residential towers in downtown” and more.

One of the mayor’s staffers said Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff was in the crowd, and Reed included in his speech a new development in getting the baseball club to relocate to San Jose.

“We learned today that the Ninth Circuit has agreed to expedite our hearing and we hope to have a legal decision this summer,” Reed said. “I am looking forward to watching the next mayor throw the first pitch for the San Jose A’s.

He added, “Thankfully, not everything moves at the speed of the Commissioner (Bud Selig).”

The next mayor, Reed said, will also cut the ribbon on the new San Jose Earthquakes soccer stadium near the airport.

The mayor’s son, Alex Reed, delivered perhaps the most entertaining comments of the night by detailing a few things people might not know about the straight-laced mayor. Alex noted that his father likes bottom-shelf white zinfandel over fine wines; eats KFC, cashews and “a frightening amount of chocolate;” and still uses “you’ve got mail” AOL email.

Reed’s daughter, Air Force pilot Kim Campbell, also delivered an introduction in a video message.

Here is a transcript of Mayor Chuck Reed’s final State of the City speech.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. “Chuck Reed spent much of his eighth and final State of the City speech thanking his predecessors while noting that a mayor’s work goes on long after he or she leaves office.”

    That guy boasts of supporting historical actions by former mayors, but has been silent for the last eight years about the disappearance of the mayor’s name who founded the city’s library.  That mayor did it by saving his first year’s salary as mayor, and then returned it to the city council with the request that it be available to start a free lending library.

    Nothing about the city library or its web site pays suitable recognition to the library’s founding mayor.  About the only thing we who care about San Jose’s history can do is use our library card a lot to facilitate its jobs program (not quite a customer service program) and vote against every initiative for bond or parcel taxes by the library until it gets honest about its history.

  2. That’s funny… how can someone so short-sighted as Reed is possibly be taken seriously for the “long-view?” 

    Answer: “Term Limits”  thanks to the short-sightedness of the voters who were tired of MoonBeam and Slick -Willie Brown we have term limits – result : Reed and his council allies who created the mess that San Jose is today will be long gone when the real pain is felt by residents. 

    Anyone who thinks things are bad now should sell all they have and move now because in 2-3 years it will be worse. much worse. much much much worse as upwards of 150 retire from the police department and whose jobs will go unfilled because SJ can’t recruit or retain enough new officers to keep up with the 5-10 who leave per month right now…

  3. He will go down in History as San Jose’s worst Mayor. Al the issues that he talked about , are in worse shape now because of him . it is absurd for him to say Public Safety is a Priority , when he and this council did everything they could to decimate Public Safety. No one in their right mind will apply to work here knowing that if they get injured , they will be fired. also why would they come here , when they could go anywhere else and receive better pay, better benefits , better employer. for those that do come , lets just say they will be 3rd, 4th, or 5th best, Not the best qualified. But make no mistake , they to will leave for greener pastures.
        he has now shifted his focus to trying to destroy SJFD.  Both this mayor and council are pushing to reduce staffing levels. he wants a crew of 2 to respond on mopeds, with a sidecar. so what happens then a patient becomes combative? , or the patient needs to picked up and weighs over 250lbs?or or their are weapons involved? or CPR is needed? it would be impossible for a crew of 2 to perform CPR,administer drugs,package ,document and possibly transport, especially on a moped. this Mayor talks a lot about things he knows nothing about and frankly isn’t interested in being educated about. I can’t figure out if it is his arrogance or stubbornness that keeps him from having an open mind.

  4. Chuck Reed and his Council inherited the insane pension contracts bullied through the City by Amy “Take The Money and Run” Dean. She sold her Willow Glen home and built a mansion in Chicago, where her husband now runs an outsourcing to India business. Can you say hypocrite? I knew that you could.

    Then Reed and company had to face the effects the 2008 global economy crash had on San Jose. And they did.

    Throughout his tenure, Chuck Reed has been steadfast in steering San Jose in a fiscally responsible direction, while other California municipalities collapsed under their own weight.

    My hat is off to Chuck Reed. He’s faced a tough 7 years with courage, and above all, honesty. I think he has done a remarkable job preventing absolute financial calamity in San Jose. Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

    • Sorry Audrey,

      Chuck signed off on all these contracts as a council member and mayor.  Then he tried to take it all away.  Maybe he should have done his homework, he knew damn well what he was doing.  When times were good he was way over spending, what is wrong with most elected officials when they get a little extra money they will spend double and do not worry about the future.

      We gave up a hell of a lot of benefits along the way.  I have personally watched the back door deals in union contracts and Chuck was just as much a part of it.  He brought this city to it’s knees and will be remembered as such.

      I am sure he is viewing a CA govt seat to push his pension reform.  It is because of Chuck this city is suffering because of public safety. as always, be careful what you wish for.

      What date is he out of office?  Can’t wait.  Then hopefully NO Sam I Can!

    • Really Audrey….Honesty?  I dont think so.  All the Firefighters and Police Officers want is a contract comparable to other agencies…..Is that so hard to understand?  Just go to the PERS model, or San Francisco Model, or Santa Clara County model….are you starting to get the picture?  The slash and burn on public safety is a smokescreen to disguise where all the money is going, or the fact that we lost a fortune to California after losing the RDA money.  Why dont you bring that up in your “honesty” assessment?  Confusing verbage, strategic placement of a vote or ballot measure, “off the top of my head” atronmical numbers…..or did we forget all that?

    • Audrey.. You’re entitled to your opinion, but unfortunately the facts don’t support your view.

      There are NUMEROUS issues from the long and short term past that contributed to the FINANCIAL mess Chuck and Co “tried” to untangle. You can read about them on your own time as we would be here all day if I detailed them.

      Had Chuck not been so stubborn about “taking this issue to the voters” and real negotiations took place in good faith, we WOULD NOT BE IN THIS MESS TODAY! Chuck and Co. (Figone & Gurza included) didn’t inherit a public safety crisis, they created one!!

      Legal, mutually beneficial, pension reform could have been achieved. Instead the citizen’s have a huge tab (and counting) over at Meyers Have, almost half of the newest cops are leaving before they’re even off probation and the council, including Reed himself, doesn’t want to fully implement the language of Measure B because it is fundamentally flawed!! So now, without redrafting it and taking it to the ballot, nothing can get fixed! That sounds fantastic, right Audrey?!

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