Cindy Chavez is one of the San Jose area’s cagiest political poker players, not one to show her cards accidentally or stray from talking points. That’s why, when she shared her ambition to become San Jose’s next mayor at a private luncheon of Asian-American and Pacific Islander electeds, it was quite the July bombshell, even though no one will go on record as having witnessed the detonation.
Evan Low, the assemblyman who organized the lunch, claims “I was walking in and out… I could have been outside” when Chavez delivered the news. Supervisor Otto Lee had an alibi too, swearing he showed up late and missed her remarks, but heard about the announcement from others. Santa Clara Councilman Kevin Park says “that was a Big Thing” but wouldn’t repeat what she said. County Board of Education trustee Rosemary Kamei says she must’ve been in the bathroom when Chavez unveiled her intentions.
Others, however, confirm that Chavez left little doubt that she plans to upend the field that already includes downtown councilmembers Raul Peralez and Dev Davis. Her entry would pit two labor-aligned Latinos against one another in the primary and add a second female to the race.
Also kicking the tires is former technology executive Matt Mahan, who won the District 10 seat in March 2020.
While Chavez will certainly benefit from high name recognition and her coalition building as a county supervisor, City Hall watchers remember that she was trounced by almost 20 points in the 2006 San Jose mayoral runoff with Chuck Reed, the most lopsided whooping since Tom McEnery creamed Claude Fletcher four decades ago.
Political consultants to opponents are already sharpening their knives and eager to remind voters about the multiple scandals that swirled around city hall during Chavez’s tenure on the council and to highlight her free-spending ways as a county supervisor. Valet parking anyone?