San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has made his first City Council endorsement—Joanna Rauh for District 3.
“Joanna Rauh has the common sense, passion, intelligence, listening skills and collaborative temperament needed to be a great city councilmember,” Liccardo told San José Spotlight. “Nobody juggles more than a working mom and she has proven she can master a big workload—a critical skill for serving District 3.”
Until now, Liccardo has kept quiet about his support of San Jose candidates and has only endorsed people running at the state and federal levels.
The downtown council seat is one of the most contested as Councilmember Raul Peralez terms out this year. Rauh will face off against attorney Elizabeth Chien-Hale, San Jose-Evergreen Community College board member Omar Torres, business owner Irene Smith and health care professional and former congressional candidate Ivan Torres for the seat in the June 7 primary election.
Although Rauh’s candidacy for the downtown council seat—once held by Liccardo—may appear to have come out of nowhere, she actually publicized her intentions to run last fall. Following her announcement, she quietly paused her campaign to give birth to her third child.
During that period, she was asked to work for Liccardo’s political action committee, Common Good Silicon Valley. Rauh said she was “enthusiastic about the opportunity to support housing solutions,” but ultimately turned it down because she wanted to run for City Council.
“I realized that there’s never going to be a perfect time to run, and that the problems facing our district are just too important to wait,” Rauh told San José Spotlight. “I’m a working mom and a professional negotiator, and I want to use those skills to bring the change that we need to the city.”
She is a not a longtime politico and has spent her professional career as an attorney, currently working at Deloitte as the assistant general counsel.
Rauh said she and the other candidates vying for the downtown seat met with Liccardo to share their visions for District 3—which she thinks led to Liccardo’s endorsement.
“It’s a privilege to receive Mayor Liccardo’s endorsement, but it comes with great responsibility and we have to work toward a better future,” Rauh said. “We need to address the (homelessness crisis) with compassion and the aggressive urgency it deserves. Nobody should be left to suffer on the streets.”
However, the endorsement is not welcomed by all.
District 3 candidate Smith said the mayor’s support now links Rauh to “Liccardo’s legacy of failure.”
“Has your quality of life gotten better or worse in the time that Liccardo’s been in elected office?” Smith wrote in a campaign email on March 16. “Make no mistake, Rauh now runs to continue the status quo and do his bidding as his handpicked successor.”
Smith said while she may have wanted the outgoing mayor’s endorsement for the prospective financial support it brings, she isn’t surprised or upset she didn’t get it.
“The real issue is that an endorsement also comes with strings,” Smith told San José Spotlight. “So I wouldn’t want his endorsement because I want something different for San Jose and especially for downtown.”
Smith recently won the endorsement of the Silicon Valley Biz PAC, one of several local PACs representing business interests.
Jim Reed, Liccardo’s chief of staff, said he was surprised to see Smith’s email. Just six weeks ago Smith was complimentary when the two connected directly, he said.
“The depth of anger she’s displaying will be unsettling for anybody who understands how essential good collaborative skills are for success in local government,” Reed told San José Spotlight.
But Smith said she wasn’t seeking Liccardo’s endorsement, rather his advice.
“As a non-politician, I was reaching out to somebody in a leadership role to understand what they’re doing and what I need to do to be better at my job,” Smith said.
Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.