After months of speculation, it appears Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez is indeed preparing to run for mayor of San Jose in 2022.
The California Secretary of State website shows a committee called “Chavez for Mayor 2022; Cindy.” It’s unclear when the committee was created. A phone number listed in the filing is linked to Deane & Company, a firm that provides political reporting and treasury services to campaigns. An employee told San José Spotlight the company provides services for Chavez’s campaign. Chavez does not appear to have filed election paperwork in San Jose.
Chavez and her staff did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The filing more or less confirms what has been rumored for months: that Chavez plans to run for San Jose mayor next year as current Mayor Sam Liccardo terms out of office. Chavez has refused to share any details about her possible mayoral aspirations, but city insiders claim it’s always been a matter of when, not if.
“She’ll be a formidable candidate,” said Terry Christensen, a San Jose State University political science professor emeritus. “She really has more of a track record than any of the other candidates will be able to claim. We’ll see if that helps, because you also make enemies in a long career.”
Christensen told San José Spotlight that Chavez is a veteran grassroots campaign organizer and has ample support in labor circles. He said the race will be interesting because one of her competitors, San Jose Councilmember Raul Peralez, also relies heavily on those groups for support and has already started collecting endorsements.
“That will constitute a really hard choice for labor,” Christensen said, adding that unions may choose to give double endorsements. “And that’s important because labor is such an important source of volunteers.”
Peralez said the news about Chavez’s candidacy is not a shocker.
“I have been convinced for some time that she would join the race so it’s not a surprise to me,” Peralez told San José Spotlight.
Earlier this week, Chavez faced off with Peralez at a 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. She cited the construction of senior housing and working with the county to lobby for Measure A, which offers hundreds of millions of dollars to fund affordable housing. Chavez also expressed support for diversifying the San Jose Police Department.
Chavez, a member of the Board of Supervisors for nearly a decade, previously served as vice mayor of San Jose. Her tenure was marked by some controversial votes, including a $4 million backdoor taxpayer subsidy for the San Jose Grand Prix. Chavez’s campaign for mayor in 2006 ended when she endured a trouncing by eventual winner Chuck Reed.
Chavez joins a growing field of candidates who want to take the seat being vacated by Liccardo next year. Councilmember Dev Davis announced her campaign in April, just hours after Peralez.
“I welcome (Chavez) and any candidates to the race,” Davis told San José Spotlight. “I’m looking forward to a robust discussion about the future of San Jose.”
A progressive former congressional candidate, Jonathan Royce Esteban, is also running. Freshman Councilmember Matt Mahan is rumored to be running too, but so far he’s avoided giving a direct answer.