More than 30 candidates have jumped into contests for San Jose mayor and City Council, with at least one frontrunner dropping out following Friday’s deadline to compete in the June primary election.
In about three months, San Jose residents will narrow the fields for a new mayor and five city councilmembers. Districts 1, 3 and 5 are open seats with the current officeholders terming out, while incumbents in Districts 7 and 9 are seeking reelection.
Several politicos previously said they’d run to lead San Jose, but not everyone qualified—or even submitted their paperwork—to continue their bids. The biggest surprise came from the District 1 council race, with San Jose Planning Commissioner Justin Lardinois dropping out of the running over the weekend.
“While I’m proud of the campaign that I ran, it became increasingly clear to me that personal circumstances unrelated to the campaign necessitated my exit from the race,” Lardinois said in a statement, one day after telling San José Spotlight his campaign would file nomination paperwork.
Lardinois, who raised at least $25,400 at the end of 2021, did not respond to inquiries about his decision.
Jonathan Esteban, a former congressional candidate with eyes on the mayor’s seat, also dropped out of the race after failing to collect enough signatures for his nomination. A qualified candidate must have a nomination petition with at least 50 valid signatures. Esteban is now throwing his support behind Councilmember Raul Peralez.
“We were sadly two valid signatures short of qualifying to be on the ballot this year,” Esteban told San José Spotlight. “I believe that (Councilmember Peralez) is the last remaining candidate who is brave enough to stand up for the working families of our city.”
They both want to increase public safety and address the homelessness crisis with more housing, among other issues.
Several other lesser known candidates, including mayoral candidate Tyrone Wade, Dennis Kyne and Miles Linden in District 3, Phil Dolan in District 5 and Thomas Davis in District 7, also did not qualify for the election.
The top two vote-getters in each race will head to a runoff in November unless one candidate wins with more than 50% in June.
Here’s the current list of San Jose candidates running in the June 7 primary election:
With Mayor Sam Liccardo terming out after eight years, the city’s top seat is up for grabs—with at least eight candidates on the ballot in June.
Retired San Jose police officer Jim Spence, college student Marshall Allen Woodmansee and student Travis Nicholas Hill also qualified for the race recently.
Spence wants the city to stop spending money on housing for the homeless. He also said he wants to stand up against Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody for closing down businesses and imposing strict COVID-19 rules during the pandemic.
“For the last two years, our City Council or Board of Supervisors didn’t stand up for the residents of San Jose and let one unelected individual close down our city and tell people how they had to live their lives,” Spence told San José Spotlight. “Leadership is really the key factor in this, and a leader needs to stand up when things aren’t right.”
Hill, who claims to be a student, wants to address the homeless, housing and climate change crises, his website says. He did not submit a candidate statement.
Woodmansee, a San Jose State University student, hopes to improve San Jose by addressing challenges in transportation, food production and social connectivity, his website reads.
With Lardinois unexpectedly dropping out of the race to represent West San Jose, residents will have three options for the new District 1 councilmember. The district’s incumbent, Vice Mayor Chappie Jones, terms out this year.
Ramona Snyder, president of the San Jose Downtown Foundation board, Santa Clara County Board of Education trustee Rosemary Kamei and paratransit operator Tim Gildersleeve are all vying for the open seat.
Snyder, who used to be a flight attendant for American Airlines, has served as vice chair of the District 1 Leadership Group, chair of the District 1 Decides Participatory Budgeting Committee and chair of the San Jose Arts Commission for several years.
“I’m not a career politician,” Snyder said in her candidate statement. “I’m a community leader.”
Gildersleeve, who has unsuccessfully run in a number of local and state campaigns since 2014, said he’s spent nearly two decades working with the poor, elderly and disabled community as a paratransit operator.
“If elected to the council, I vow to vote according to the will of the voters, not my own opinions,” he said in his candidate statement.
Five candidates are competing for the job to represent downtown San Jose, as Councilmember Peralez terms out this year.
Health care professional and former congressional candidate Ivan Torres, attorney Elizabeth Chien-Hale, San Jose-Evergreen Community College board member Omar Torres and business owner Irene Smith have already declared for the seat. Smith recently won the endorsement of Silicon Valley Biz PAC, while Omar Torres secured the support of the Santa Clara County Democratic Party and South Bay Labor Council.
Legal counsel Joanna Teresa Rauh, who jumped into the race in February, said her priorities are addressing homelessness, blight and crime in District 3.
“I’ve spent the last 15 years leading negotiations to bridge divides and find solutions to complicated problems,” Rauh said in her candidate statement. “I’ll do the same for San Jose.”
One of the most highly-anticipated—and crowded—council races is the fight for the District 5 seat in East San Jose.
Five candidates are looking to replace Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco, who terms out this year.
Several longtime Latino politicians have thrown their hats into the race, including Santa Clara County Board of Education trustee Peter Ortiz, Planning Commission Chair Rolando Bonilla, former Assemblymember Nora Campos and Alum Rock Union School District trustee Andres Quintero.
H.G. “Hanh Giao” Nguyen, founding president of the Vietnamese-American Chamber of Commerce of Santa Clara Valley, recently entered the race. Nguyen hopes to be a voice for the Asian community in San Jose, as she wants to address homelessness and revitalize small businesses in East San Jose.
“I want to serve the people,” Nguyen told San José Spotlight. “I want to bring a new direction for District 5.”
Incumbent Councilmember Maya Esparza, former director of Destination: Home’s homeless veterans campaign, will face two Vietnamese Americans for the East San Jose seat: San Jose Fire Captain Bien Doan and East Side Union High School District Board President Van Le.
Esparza defeated former Councilmember Tam Nguyen in 2018 leading to a loss in Vietnamese representation on the council.
Incumbent Councilmember Pam Foley is running unopposed as she seeks reelection in District 9. Foley, who edged out local school board trustee Kalen Gallagher in 2018, touts her track record of supporting public safety causes through her work with Vision Zero and increasing funding for police and fire departments.
“As I reach the end of my first term, I realize that my work is not yet finished,” Foley said in her candidate statement. “I humbly request your support for a second term.”
Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.
Editor’s Note: Perla Rodriguez, spouse of District 5 candidate Rolando Bonilla, sits on San José Spotlight’s board of directors.