Chavez concedes, Matt Mahan will be San Jose mayor
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez and San Jose Councilmember Matt Mahan are competing to be the next mayor of San Jose. File photo.

    San Jose Councilmember Matt Mahan will be the new mayor of the 10th largest U.S. city after opponent Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez conceded defeat Wednesday morning.

    “I have called Matt Mahan to wish him the best of luck in his two-year term as mayor,” Chavez said in a statement. “San Jose faces numerous challenges in the months and years ahead, requiring that we all work collaboratively with the entire City Council to reach meaningful and equitable solutions.”

    Chavez, who was a frontrunner in the crowded competition in June, failed to close the gap in the tight race between her and Mahan since election day. With 90% of ballots counted as of Tuesday night, Mahan has won his bid to be the next San Jose mayor with 123,436 votes, securing 51.3% of the vote. Chavez has 117,085 votes, or 48.6%.

    Mahan will replace current Mayor Sam Liccardo, who terms out after eight years.

    “This has been a long and hard-fought campaign. But what unites us as a city is much more powerful than any divisions from a political contest,” Mahan told San José Spotlight. “I congratulate Supervisor Chavez on her strong campaign and I hope to work with her closely in the years ahead to address the challenges facing San Jose.”

    Mahan also thanked voters who turned out this election and volunteers who helped bring his campaign to victory.

    “You built one of the most powerful grassroots campaigns that this city has ever seen,” Mahan said. “It was your work that made this victory for common sense possible.”

    Liccardo, who endorsed Mahan’s campaign, also congratulated Mahan on his victory Wednesday.

    “Mayor Mahan will be a collaborative, dynamic, and thoughtful leader, who will ensure that our government works just as hard as the families we serve,” Liccardo said in a statement. “It’s no secret that I’m thrilled with Matt’s election, because San Jose’s future will be in good hands.”

    The highly anticipated mayor’s race—which was watched across the state and country—pitted Chavez, a longtime seasoned politician, against Mahan, a business-backed newcomer. Chavez has the endorsements of labor unions, state and local elected officials, and every councilmember except Liccardo. Mahan is backed by former San Jose mayors Tom McEnery and Chuck Reed.

    The race was fueled by more than $8 million in outside spending from special interests and record campaign donations—making it one of the most expensive competition in San Jose’s history. Chavez captured the lion’s share of special interest spending—at $3.4 million—from the San Francisco 49ers, labor and police unions, and others. Mahan’s campaign received support from Common Good Silicon Valley, the PAC formed by Liccardo and now run by his chief of staff Jim Reed, Silicon Valley Biz PAC and the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.

    Chavez will continue serving as a county supervisor until 2024 when she faces reelection. With his victory, Mahan will leave an open seat in District 10. Mahan will also have to face reelection in 2024, as voters approved a measure to move San Jose’s mayoral elections to presidential years. If reelected in 2024, Mahan could potentially serve two more consecutive four-year terms.

    As mayor, Mahan aims to restructure San Jose City Hall and foster greater accountability. He has championed quick-build temporary housing on public land to move people off the streets. One of his campaign promises is to tie raises of elected officials and city administrators to goals such as reducing crime and homelessness—and withhold raises unless those targets are met.

    Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter. 

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