San Jose Councilmember Dev Davis kicks off mayoral campaign
Councilmember Dev Davis launches her mayoral campaign at Hapa's Brewing Company on Aug. 4. Photo by Lloyd Alaban.

San Jose Councilmember Dev Davis’ streak of rustic campaign events continued Wednesday as the District 6 lawmaker launched her mayoral campaign at Hapa’s Brewing Company near Willow Glen.

“We have to tackle homelessness, we have to recover from the pandemic economically and frankly as a city. And we need to clean up our city,” Davis told San José Spotlight.

Wednesday’s gathering was a who’s-who of business-aligned and moderate politicos, including former District 10 Councilmember and current county supervisor hopeful Johnny Khamis, former Vice Mayor Pat Sausedo and ex-supervisor candidate and former Planning Commissioner John Leyba. The invite-only group of more than a hundred politicians, advocates and residents, according to the event’s registration rolls, dined on a mix of Chinese food, sushi and custom-made “Dev 2022” cookies.

“I want to see somebody who delves deep in the issues before she takes a vote. She’s very thorough in evaluating what the city needs,” Khamis told San José Spotlight.

Khamis, one of Davis’ fiercest allies when they served on the council together, is also one of her earliest campaign supporters. He joked that Davis would be the only candidate not to raise taxes. “She’s been very strong on issues that I care about, like public safety, like homelessness, like fiscal responsibility.”

Resident Virginia Johnson speaks with Councilmember Dev Davis. Photo by Lloyd Alaban.

Davis, 43, declared her run for mayor in April, just hours after her colleague Councilmember Raul Peralez announced his candidacy following more than a year of all-but-official campaigning. The two lawmakers, along with activist and longshot candidate Jonathan Royce Esteban, are the only official competitors in the race.

Davis’ platform includes rejecting the controversial Opportunity Housing plan that seeks to rezone residential areas to allow duplexes, triplexes or fourplexes on land designated for single-family homes, reducing red tape for affordable housing projects, increasing staffing for the city’s police department and building more green space.

Davis and Peralez represent opposite sides of the business-labor split on the San Jose City Council. Davis votes almost exclusively with the city’s business interests, joining like-minded colleagues such as Mayor Sam Liccardo and Councilmember Pam Foley. Meanwhile, Peralez already has a long list of labor endorsements, including all of the council’s so-called Latino Caucus.

Cookies served at Davis’ launch party. Photo by Lloyd Alaban.

Davis touts her accomplishments for the office on her website, which include pushing Fire Station 37 on Lincoln Avenue forward, more funding for police equipment and what she says is her proudest achievement: securing funding for automated CPR devices on the city’s fire engines.

“She reaches over both sides of the aisle,” resident Virginia Johnson told San José Spotlight. “Our issues are a lot more complicated than our politicians are willing to accept. Our issues are systemic. I’ve always been upper-middle class, I own three houses. But I’m concerned about the younger generation. What are we leaving for them? I’m a boomer, but my family is full of millennials. I care for them. And I think Dev is somebody that will do that too.”

Voters first elected Davis to the council in 2016 and again in 2020.

Rumors from political insiders have all but officially confirmed that Supervisor Cindy Chavez, trounced in her previous run for mayor in 2006, is running for San Jose’s top spot again. Other rumored candidates—at least according to a text poll—include freshman Councilmember Matt Mahan, former councilmember and current Planning Commissioner Pierluigi Oliverio and Madison Nguyen, former vice mayor and Silicon Valley Organization executive.

Davis says she’s ahead of the field in one aspect: bringing a “data nerd” approach to the mayor’s office.

“I’m always going to look an issue and look at what it’s going to do now and what it’s going to do in the long run,” Davis said. “I think it’s really important to think about whatever isn’t immediate from whatever proposal we’re looking at.”

The mayoral primary election is set for June 2022.

Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.

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