A prominent Willow Glen real estate investor who previously ran for mayor now wants to represent District 6 on the San Jose City Council.
Michael Mulcahy, a San Jose native, is tossing his hat into the race for the District 6 seat, which encompasses Willow Glen, Santana Row, The Alameda and parts of downtown.
Already in the running for the seat are housing advocate Alex Shoor, labor union political advisor Olivia Navarro and Amatangelo “Angelo” Pasciuti, a retired Marine. Councilmember Dev Davis currently represents the area and terms out at the end of 2024.
“I’ve spent my entire life in San Jose, and I truly believe in its potential and its beauty and I want to be a part of trying to bring that back,” Mulcahy told San José Spotlight. “I think we are challenged by so many things, like so many great cities are, but I think we can bring that back. And I believe neighborhoods are the place to start.”
Mulcahy, through his family company SDS NexGen Partners, has invested in myriad properties along Lincoln Avenue in downtown Willow Glen, including the Garden Theater, helping to revamp the area.
He also owns stakes in several Willow Glen restaurants including The Table and Lamella Tavern, and rents to longtime outposts like Aqui, he said. Mulcahy also oversaw redevelopment of the former Sun Garden tomato cannery on Monterey Road, which his family owned since the 1940s before it shut down. The area is now the Sun Garden shopping center.
He has run his family’s investment firm since 2001, and prior to that served as the director of Children’s Musical Theater San Jose.
Mulcahy said some of his priorities as a councilmember would be to provide better support for small businesses and entrepreneurs, hiring more cops in an effort to boost public safety and reducing homelessness and blight.
“I’ve got a lot of experience working in the neighborhoods and helping small businesses thrive and building a spirit within a neighborhood,” he said.
Collaboration will be the key to solving those seemingly intractable issues, Mulcahy said, but on the first day of his campaign, he was short on specific plans to achieve those goals.
“We’ve got to put the bickering aside, and get people together, specifically the council and mayor, to come up with solutions that are going to make us the safest city in America again,” he said. “When we were the safest city in America, we were rocking and rolling and we need to get back to that.”
Pierluigi Oliverio, a planning commissioner and former councilmember who held the seat for a decade, said Mulcahy is a strong candidate, especially because of his experience with running businesses in San Jose.
“He knows what it actually is to process a permit. There’s no one else on the city council that actually does that,” Oliverio told San José Spotlight. “Having that background and dealing with what it takes to get a permit from the city for a small business, he has just lived it, and he understands how that inhibits small business growth.”
Oliverio was considering running for the District 6 seat himself, but ultimately decided against it, saying in an online statement that he needs to dedicate time to caring for his elderly mother and disabled brother.
In a letter Mulcahy posted online announcing his candidacy Friday, he said he is joining the race because his ”good friend” Oliverio is out.
Councilmember Davis said Mulcahy is a respected District 6 resident.
“I think he will bring a different voice to the council race,” she told San José Spotlight.
Mulcahy ran for San Jose mayor in 2006, losing in the primary in fifth place out of 10 candidates. He said that was “an amazing experience” that gave him opportunities to engage more in the city.
“I’m really proud of what I’ve done since then and I feel like I can bring that experience as a little bit older and certainly wiser person now, and really focusing in on District 6,” he said.