San José continues to grow and expand as the heart of Silicon Valley. The city stands to welcome 30,000 new residents and 50,000 new workers by 2040, and the next mayor of San José will take the lead in guiding policy decisions that will shape the region for decades to come. This year’s mayoral race has four frontrunner candidates. SPUR and six partner organizations held a forum on April 28 to help voters get to know the candidates and their positions on some of the city’s most pressing issues. The participating candidates, all of whom have long histories of public service, were Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez and San José City Council Members Raul Peralez, Matthew Mahan and Devora Davis.
The event was held in-person and also broadcast to a virtual audience. Questions came from the public, SPUR and our partner organizations, the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, Seamless Bay Area, San José Downtown Association, SOMOS Mayfair, San José State University and AARP California.
The candidates have had a long campaign trail of candidate forums where questions have focused on homelessness, COVID-19, business and economic recovery. We asked questions spanning equitable planning, regional transit, parks and open space funding, as well as affordable and senior housing.
We have compiled the questions asked, as well as links to the candidate responses in the recording of the forum.
Candidate Questions and Answers
San José will see enormous increases in local housing and commercial developments, such as Google’s Downtown West, as well as major investments in regional transit infrastructure via BART Phase II. In the years to come, the city will have to accommodate thousands of new residents and economic growth in downtown and beyond, and there will be key opportunities to increase vibrancy, equity, affordability and safety for all. As mayor, how will you encourage equitable planning and effective collaboration at this critical stage that listens to and centers local community and commercial interests while ensuring that San José fully delivers on the promises and opportunities of this moment?
Reforming Regional Transit
San José is part of an interconnected region, requiring a more integrated transit system. The City of San José has adopted seamless transit principles, and the region is going through an important conversation about governance of transit. The mayor has a critical role in this by serving on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and serving on and/or appointing others to transit boards, such as VTA and Caltrain. What considerations do you think are most important as the region discusses ways of reforming transit governance and our transit institutions?
Supporting Small Businesses
The pandemic and the pandemic response was very hard on small businesses in San José in particular. What is your plan to support small businesses now and in the future?
Open Space Funding and Access
Recent city auditor reports indicate that San José is approaching half a billion dollars (over $450 million) in deferred parks maintenance. With so many residents using our parks and outdoor spaces now, what is your strategy to close this gap and ensure that residents have access to welcoming and well cared-for open space?
Preserving Naturally Affordable Housing
According to a McKinsey & Company report, while continuing to expand the supply of new affordable housing remains a critical priority for cities, preservation could also be added to the solution set. Preservation strategies include looking at existing multifamily rental properties and converting them into permanent affordable housing stock in order to prevent the displacement and homelessness of low-income and working-class families of color. What is your preservation plan to increase the stock of naturally affordable housing in San José? What is your position on the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act?
Housing for Older Adults
For many older adults, the cost of housing in San José — which is among the highest in the state — is an extreme burden. Senior homelessness is on the rise, and even older adults who can afford to stay in San José are losing their support networks as family, friends and caregivers leave due to the high cost of housing. Meanwhile, most older adults want to remain in their current homes and communities as they age. As mayor, what would be your strategy to keep older adults in their homes and community?
Encouraging Civic Participation
In what ways can the city encourage increased civic participation, especially among young people? What would you do as mayor to encourage more civic participation?
Be sure to vote in the primary election on June 7, 2022! Ballots will be arriving in the mail starting this week.