Retired lieutenant Robert “Bob” O’Keefe hopes he can continue to serve and protect the people of Santa Clara — this time from a seat on the City Council.
Born and raised in the Mission City, the 60-year-old retired California Highway Patrol lieutenant has joined the race for the District 5 seat, which was vacated by Patricia Mahan in February for medical reasons. Planning Commissioner Suds Jain has also announced his candidacy for District 5 councilmember.
After narrowly losing a campaign to become city clerk in 2018, O’Keefe said he hopes he can champion the city through the City Council, especially as the area continues to focus on redevelopment and revitalization of downtown.
“I was very young, but I do remember the old downtown that was torn down in the ’60s,” said O’Keefe, who has served on the Neighborhood-University Relations Committee, Old Quad Residents Association and Santa Clara Family Neighborhoods group. “The land there is just so underused right now. Something is going to be done, and I think it’s neat that the citizens have a large voice on what’s happening.”
In addition to paying specific attention to fiscal responsibility — especially with the upcoming deficits due to COVID-19 — he said he would also prioritize expanding housing for the lower middle class.
He said Santa Clara has been successful in building housing for engineers, tech workers and lower-income families, but more focus needs to be given to workers like fast food and grocery store clerks. He said he would push to not only remove the ability of developers to opt out of building these types of units but also lower the threshold for what qualifies as affordable.
“We need to have that housing built now for these families and these hard-working individuals, (especially since) we use their services every day as part of our community,” O’Keefe said. “They’re spending their money locally, their kids are going to local schools, and it’s good economics for the city. We should be inclusive of all, not leave people out.”
After 30 years working his way up the ranks within the CHP, he said his years of executive management and leadership will lend nicely to dealing with management of Levi’s Stadium, as he previously oversaw patrol operations and administrative functions in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, including San Francisco 49ers games at Candlestick Park.
Overall, O’Keefe said he hopes to be elected to the Santa Clara City Council so that he can represent residents’ ideas and thoughts on how to continue improving the neighborhoods, lifestyle and opportunities in the city he loves.
“As a councilmember, I will be responsive to the citizens, I will be available, and I will listen,” O’Keefe said. “I will be the one that pushes for and takes their ideas to council.”