Anthony Becker stops to write a personal note before dropping off his flyer at a home, addressing the residents by name and asking them to vote. When someone opens the door in answer to his knock, he perks up.
“Hi, I’m Anthony Becker. I’m running for City Council,” he says. “I’d love to get your support.”
Shortly after finishing work at Accenture, a professional services company, Becker is out canvassing the neighborhoods. He hopes to knock on all 5,500 households in District 6.
Although Becker, 35, said going door to door during the pandemic is a little scary, he takes precautions. He wears gloves and a mask and follows social distancing. “This is the only way you’re going to be able to connect with voters,” he said. “It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding.”
Becker is looking to replace Debi Davis, who is stepping down at the end of her term, and is running against software engineer Gautam “Gary” Barve and lawyer Robert Mezzetti.
“Having the perspective of a millennial, especially a renter who can’t afford to buy a house here, is what the City Council needs,” Becker said. “I work a good job but can only afford to pay $950 for a bedroom.”
Although he was born in Santa Clara, Becker’s family relocated to Los Banos when he was seven. For 20 years, Becker watched his parents commute from Los Banos to their jobs in Santa Clara. Due to the high cost of the living, his younger brother relocated to Susanville (Lassen County).
“My mother never gets to see him or her grandchildren,” Becker said. “Or me. Affordable housing is the only way anyone’s going to be able to live here in the future.”
After graduating from high school, Becker returned to Santa Clara for school and work. He studied film and political science at De Anza College before transferring to San Jose State University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in radio, film and television.
In 2016, Becker challenged Councilmember Kathy Watanabe for a council seat and in 2018 he ran against Mayor Lisa Gillmor. He lost both races.
He views his past candidacies as trial runs and stepping stones in joining the Santa Clara Planning Commission in 2018, where he continues to serve.
Becker said being on the Planning Commission provided him with valuable experience and a chance to fight for affordable housing. In the Gateway Crossings project, for example, in phase 2 of development, he and fellow commissioner Suds Jain pushed to have 5% more of the project set aside for 100% area median income. In the end, 15% of the homes were, with the development including 43 additional affordable units.
This and other wins changed Jain’s early opinion of Becker.
“When Anthony first came to the Planning Commission, he asked for more parking for a property than even staff had recommended,” said Jain. “I thought, ‘Oh no, we have this young guy and he doesn’t know anything about land use, housing and parking costs.’ What I’ve learned over time is … he’s a sharp guy. He works hard and is very diligent.”
On the Planning Commission, Becker said he learned how to build bridges, something lacking on the City Council. Becker said other than his father, who told him to run for office, he was inspired by the members of the Planning Commission.
“We can disagree on an item but still get along,” he said. “Right now, we have council members that don’t’ talk to each other or to business entities.”
Becker said now is the perfect time to run as the city is under a court ordered six-district system after losing a California Voting Rights (CVRA) lawsuit.
“The city is trying to fight having six districts,” Becker said. “Day one, if I’m on the council, I’d motion to end the appeal of the CVRA lawsuit and implement the six districts by ordinance.”
In addition to affordable housing, Becker said his other priorities are the deficit and creating a dynamic downtown.
“Santa Clara has a $34 million deficit,” Becker said. “We need to start reducing it. We have to work with the unions. I’m going to bring better communications to the City Council with an open door, open ears, open eyes and an open mind.”
Becker considers Santa Clara’s moratorium on cannabis a mistake as selling and taxing it was approved by voters in 2018. “We could be making $5 to $10 million from dispensaries, growing and manufacturing cannabis,” he said.
Becker said the election is going to come down to knowing the heart and soul of Santa Clara.
“I have experience in the community resolving residents’ quality of life issues,” he said. “I’m walking this entire district because I think everyone needs to know who their candidates are and who may be leading their city.”
According to campaign finance reports, Becker has raised $6,533 and spent $4,306.63 this year until Sept. 19.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
AT A GLANCE
Name: Anthony Becker
Family: I am gay and have a partner. No kids.
Political affiliation: Democrat
Education: San Jose State University Bachelor’s Degree in Radio, Television and Film
Profession: Content moderator/freelance filmmaker
Current or previously elected or appointed positions: Santa Clara Planning Commissioner. Served as chair of Planning Commission July 2019-July 2020. Also served on the Architectural Review Committee. Serve on the Santa Clara County Measure A Oversight Committee.
Top 3 priorities: Affordable housing, deficits, new downtown
Top 3 endorsements: Councilmember Raj Chahal, Councilmember Karen Hardy and former Mayor Patricia Mahan
Special talent: Film, history and politics buff
In one sentence, why vote for you? A new generation is needed on the council to make better decisions for all of our future.
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]