Mahan builds big lead in race for San Jose City Council seat
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo with Matt Mahan on election night in 2020. File photo.

    Tech leader Matt Mahan had a big lead in the San Jose City Council District 10 race after the first wave of election results were posted Tuesday evening.

    By the end of the night, he had 58.3 percent of the vote with 47 percent of ballots counted, far ahead of nurse and businesswoman Helen Wang, who had 22.8 percent. Community activist Jenny Higgins Bradanini was third with 18.9 percent of the vote.

    “I’m hesitant to draw any conclusions, but it’s a great start,” Mahan told San José Spotlight. “I’m just feeling extremely grateful for our amazing campaign team, all of our volunteers and all the people in the community that stepped forward and opened their homes and engaged their neighbors.”

    If Mahan maintains a lead of more than 50 percent of the vote he will win the seat outright. If he falters and no candidate has more than half of the votes cast, the top two vote getters will meet in a November runoff to fill the open seat that represents southeast San Jose, stretching from Almaden, Blossom Valley and the Santa Teresa Foothills.

    The winner will succeed term-limited Councilmember Johnny Khamis, who is running for state Senate District 15.

    Working for years in the Silicon Valley tech community, Mahan said he’s excited to bring that experience to the City Council, using data to make the best decisions for San Jose when it comes to priorities like public safety, roads and homelessness.

    “We focused from day one on grassroots engagement in every neighborhood,” said Mahan, who said he knocked on more than 9,000 doors across every precinct in the district. “I know it sounds simple, but I think the kind of the grassroots nature of the campaign gave us a really strong foundation.”

    This would be Mahan’s first elected role, but he has served as part of the Almaden Valley Community Association, the District 10 Leadership Coalition and the city’s Clean Energy Community Advisory Commission. While Khamis didn’t opt to endorse any of his potential successors, Mahan received endorsements from many other local lawmakers, including former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, former Federal Elections Commissioner Ann Ravel and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

    Liccardo even found time to personally congratulate Mahan after celebrating the early success of San Jose’s affordable housing initiative, Measure E, earlier that night.

    “You could tell the way that he ran this campaign, it is as well an executed campaign I’ve ever seen from any councilmember,” Liccardo told San José Spotlight, adding that he’s thrilled to see Mahan’s early lead. “He hustles, works incredibly hard, has wonderful people skills and is incredibly bright without letting anybody know it.”

    While he hardly had time to eat a few slices Tuesday, Mahan said gathering at Amato Pizzeria was a great, full-circle way to celebrate the early voting results, since it was the same place he kicked off his campaign last spring.

    Wang’s campaign had community policing, fixing roads and maintaining the quality of life at the top of her priority list, earning her endorsements from Former U.S. Congressman and state Senator Tom Campbell, former California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and District 29 State Senator Ling-Ling Chang.

    Her involvement around town has spanned years, including time on the Small Business Task Force of the City of San José, President and Director of the Silicon Valley Chinese Technology and Business Association and Small Business Committee Transition Team.

    Wang could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

    Higgins Bradanini’s campaign has focused on priorities of homelessness, the housing crisis and public safety, and has earned endorsements from Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Assemblymember Ash Kalra and San Jose Councilmember Sergio Jimenez. This position in City Hall would be the next step in the 56-year-old’s work serving the community, adding to her resume as the Bay Area Women’s March founder, San Jose Unified School District Volunteer of the Year and March for Our Lives youth mentor.

    But still so early into the tallying process, Higgins Bradanini wants to wait until more votes are collected to react.

    “We need to see what the final results are, with a lot of voters holding their ballot to the end and many in the mail that are yet to be received by the ROV,” campaign consultant Eric Stroker told San José Spotlight Tuesday.

    As ballots trickle in, especially with multiple ways to cast votes this year, the final election results will be certified within 30 days.

    Contact Katie Lauer at [email protected] or follow @_katielauer on Twitter.

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