Too Many Chiefs in District 3?

Two more names have emerged in the guesstimation game of who will run for San Jose’s downtown City Council seat in 2014, when Sam Liccardo terms out of District 3 and runs for mayor. Interesting enough, both people currently work less than a stone’s throw away from each other at City Hall. Joseph Okpaku, chief of staff for District 2 Councilmember Ash Kalra, and Kathy Sutherland, chief of staff for District 10 Councilmember Nancy Pyle, both insist they haven’t given future campaigns much thought and remain focused on helping their bosses make sure the city doesn’t implode. But both District 3 residents could be contenders. Sutherland, a long-time community organizer who helped form the Delmas Park neighborhood group, says she has considered running but won’t worry about it until Pyle leaves office at the end of this year. Okpaku, meanwhile, has a boss who just earned re-election this summer and said he is “definitely not running.” But then he added, “Minds can always change.” For now, go ahead and assume the pair will be squaring off with Mayor Chuck Reed’s chief of staff, Pete Furman, next fall.

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.


  1. Whoever runs for district 3 had better have massive highrise development planned for downtown to save it from its decline.  Downtown must be vibrant, and the proposed candidate can do it by overdevelopment of the downtown area with a whole bunch of highrise buildings, preferably residential and hotels.  If not, no need to apply for or run for city council district 3.

    • The Redevelopment Agencies in California have gone the way of the Dodo Bird, they’re now extinct and good riddance to them!

      Without the monumental developer subsidies of SJ’s City Council/RDA Board, you’ll not soon see any major activity in downtown.  Gee whiz, I all of a sudden want to play the world’s smallest violin!

  2. Actually, Greg, it’ll need a ton more developments to make downtown work, maybe over 10 billion dollars.  It needs a whole lot more people downtown.  People beget people; then, you’ll have more customer base to patronize the businesses downtown and make it more successful.  The new mayor must push for that with mostly private investments and make it a priority without ignoring the neighborhoods.  Downtown needs to be superdense and overdeveloped since San Jose has competing areas like Santana Row and Willow Glen.  The 3 billion dollar investment must be realized and not wasted by giving up and leaving it for dead.

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