With one email, longtime labor ally Supervisor Cindy Chavez confirmed what every Silicon Valley politico already knows—she’s running for mayor of San Jose.
Chavez, who won another term on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors last November, will announce her candidacy for mayor at an invite-only event Thursday. She filed papers with the state last week, all but officially confirming her entry into the race.
Chavez did not respond to a request for comment.
The email announcement gives few details about Chavez’s run or platform except a possible slogan—city of equals—which plays up her deep labor roots as former head of Working Partnerships USA and the South Bay Labor Council. She also served on the San Jose City Council from 1999 to 2007, with a stint as vice mayor from 2005 to 2007.
Chavez previously ran for mayor in 2006, where she lost in a landslide to Chuck Reed.
“Chavez has a long relationship with the South Bay Labor Council,” San Jose State University professor emeritus Larry Gerston told San José Spotlight. “That may be enough in and of itself to tip labor’s vote. But also some people would say she’s had a shot at it already and it’s time to go with someone new and young. Chavez’s history is important. But you never know at this point.”
The South Bay Labor Council did not respond to a request for comment.
Chavez joins a growing field of candidates who want to take the seat being vacated by current Mayor Sam Liccardo next year. Councilmember Dev Davis announced her campaign in April, just hours after fellow Councilmember Raul Peralez. On Saturday, freshman Councilmember Matt Mahan announced his entry into the race.
Last week, Chavez faced off with Peralez at a mayoral forum held by the Silicon Valley Democratic Club. Although Chavez has avoided talking about her possible interests in running, she spent the forum promoting her record.
“I have been convinced for sometime that she would join the race, so it’s not a surprise to me,” Peralez told San José Spotlight.
For decades, the City Council has been divided between labor and business interests. Chavez will be competing against Peralez’s labor-backed campaign, while Davis and Mahan will jockey for the city’s business-backed groups.
“I welcome Supervisor Chavez to the race and look forward to a vigorous debate on how to make the foundational changes we need to address problems like homelessness, rising violent crime and dirty streets,” Mahan told San José Spotlight. “She has represented business as usual in politics for 20 years and our campaign is about fundamentally challenging the status quo. This will be an important election to decide between foundational change and more of the same.”
The last time San Jose residents elected a labor-backed mayor was 2002, when voters gave incumbent Mayor Ron Gonzales a second term. Labor holds a slim 6-5 advantage on the council.
The mayoral primary is set for June 2022.