Cindy Chavez, Matt Mahan lead in San Jose mayor’s race
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez emerged as the frontrunner in the San Jose mayor's race Tuesday. Photo by Eli Wolfe.

Last updated 5 p.m. on Monday. The next update will be 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

In the highly-anticipated race for San Jose mayor, two contenders emerged as front-runners once polls closed Tuesday — county Supervisor Cindy Chavez and San Jose Councilmember Matt Mahan.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, election results show Chavez has received 39.24% of the votes—or 60,608 votes. Mahan is trailing in second with 32.22%, or 49,763 votes. Officials have counted about 94% of the total ballots.

“I’m very excited and optimistic,” Chavez told San José Spotlight. “We’re going to do what we’ve been doing — which is go door-to-door and do the house meetings, get really get to know every part of our community and hear the hopes and dreams of every family in our community.”

Chavez gathered with nearly 100 supporters at the San Jose Woman’s Club in downtown San Jose. They mingled and munched on cookies and cake pops as Chavez worked the room and fielded questions from a gaggle of reporters.

Her supporters hooted and cheered as Chavez’s close ally on the Board of Supervisors, Susan Ellenberg, ticked off a list of her achievements, including the recent approval of millions in funds for Planned Parenthood.

Supporters gather at a party supporting San Jose mayoral candidate Cindy Chavez on election night. Photo by Eli Wolfe.

The heated contest is the first time San Joseans have elected a new mayor in nearly a decade.

At Mahan’s election party at The Guildhouse on 1st Street, supporters donned green “Team Mahan” shirts and chatted in clusters as the first results came in.

“I’m feeling great. This is exactly where we wanted to be,” Mahan told San José Spotlight. “We’ve come a long way in a very grass-roots campaign. I’m confident that as San Joseans get to know me and hear our message of change and accountability that we are ultimately going to prevail in November.”

Mahan and Chavez are headed to a November runoff to replace Mayor Sam Liccardo who terms out at the end of the year.

San Jose mayoral candidate Matt Mahan talks to supporters during an election party Tuesday. Photo by Eli Wolfe.

Mahan, a 39-year-old Democrat, is comparatively new to politics, having won his City Council seat in District 10 in March 2020. Before serving in office Mahan worked various roles at two civic engagement tech startups—Causes and Brigade. He was also on the executive board of Silicon Valley Leadership Group and a commissioner on the San Jose Clean Energy Advisory Commission.

Mahan has won endorsements and support from the business community, including from the Silicon Valley Biz PAC and billionaire real estate developer John Sobrato. He has also been endorsed by former Federal Election Commission chair Ann Ravel. As of April, he has raised over $804,000. While Liccardo has not endorsed a successor, his political action committee has poured a considerable amount of money into supporting Mahan.

Dozens of supporters gather at a party supporting San Jose mayoral candidate Matt Mahan on election night. Photo by Eli Wolfe.

Chavez, a Democrat who has served as a supervisor since 2013, was previously a San Jose councilmember from 1996-2006. She also served as head of the South Bay Labor Council, which represents more than 100,000 union members in the region.

Chavez, 58, has won major endorsements from the South Bay Labor Council, the San Jose Police Officers’ Association and Bloom Energy executive Carl Guardino—a close friend of Liccardo. She has also received a staggering amount of support from the San Francisco 49ers football team executives, who endorsed her campaign and plugged $300,000 into an independent expenditure committee. As of April, she has raised over $810,000.

Chavez’s campaign has captured the lion’s share of money raised by political action committees, raking in $1.1 million. Special interest groups spent $2.3 million on Silicon Valley candidates this primary, making it one of the most expensive elections in recent history.

Behind the two frontrunners is San Jose Councilmember Dev Davis, who earned 10.86% of the vote, or 16,774 votes. Davis is non-party affiliated, having abandoned the Republican party in 2018. On Thursday, Davis conceded the race in a Facebook post.

“Although the election did not turn out the way we hoped, I want to thank you all for your support over the course of the primary,” Davis said.

Davis, 44, was elected in 2016 to represent District 6, which includes Willow Glen and Buena Vista. Before entering politics, Davis worked for 12 years as an education researcher for Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes and served as chair of San Jose’s Early Care and Education Committee. She has received endorsements from former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, the anti-SB 9 group Families & Homes SJ and the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association. As of April, she has raised $294,451.

San Jose Councilmember Raul Peralez, 40, came in fourth place with 9% of the vote, or 13,895 votes. Peralez, a Democrat, was elected to the City Council to represent District 3 in 2014 and reelected in 2018. Peralez worked as a teacher and a police officer, and still serves as a reserve officer.

Peralez, who was the first candidate to throw his hat in the ring last year, has been endorsed by fellow Councilmembers Sylvia Arenas, Magdalena Carrasco and Sergio Jimenez. He has raised $376,772.

“It’s clear we won’t make the top two and while not the results we were hoping for I am incredibly proud of my campaign team and our volunteers,” Peralez told San José Spotlight. “I want to thank everyone who supported us and most importantly my family for their sacrifices over this last year.”

Trailing the pack in financial support and endorsements are two outside candidates. One is Jim Spence, a 74-year-old retired San Jose Police Department sergeant. Spence received 6.95% of the vote, or 13,895 votes. Spence, a registered Republican, worked for SJPD for three decades before retiring in 2001. He currently runs a private investigation firm. As of April, Spence has not reported any money raised, although he previously said he loaned himself $10,000.

The other candidate is Marshall Woodmansee, a 21-year-old student at San Jose State University. Woodmansee previously served as a field director for state Sen. Dave Cortese’s senate campaign, and also worked on Jake Tonkel’s City Council campaign.

Woodmansee, who is not registered with a political party, hasn’t reported any campaign contributions but previously said he has raised $700.

Contact Eli Wolfe at [email protected] or @EliWolfe4 on Twitter.

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