San Jose City College (SJCC) recently played host to five candidates for the mayor of San Jose. Organized by Prof. Merylee Shelton of the Communication Studies Department at SJCC, the livelyevent drew over 150 students, faculty and administrators of the college.
Madison Nguyen, the current Vice Mayor of San Jose, focused on job creation in her opening statement. She promised to work with Silicon Valley corporations to create jobs for San Joseans if elected mayor on the June 3 Election Day. She will also devote her energy to create affordable housing for low-income families.
City Councilmember Sam Licardo (District 3), whose grandparents came to San Jose in 1940, opened a small grocery store and built a family and a future, spoke of his passionate optimism about the future of the city. “In recent times, our optimism has waned,” he said, “but I will restore that optimism by offering improved services and safety.” If elected, Licardo, a tech enthusiast and a believer in innovation, will use powerful predictive analytics software to predict trends and prevent crimes while restoring necessary services that had been axed due to fiscal woes.
Rose Herrera, Councilmember from District 8, will focus on job and housing if elected mayor. “I don’t believe in minimum wage,” she said. “I believe in middle-class wage.” She will convince police officers who have been leaving the city in droves to return by investing in the city’s infrastructure, cleaning up neighborhoods and creating more affordable housing for low-income families.
Pierluigi Oliviero, District 6 Councilmember, implored members in the audience who had not yet registered to vote, to register. “If you don’t vote, you are powerless,” he said. Oliviero focuses on what City hall can do, such as paving roads and making sure the streets are safe. He is not interested in Big Ideas, such as improving K-12 public schools, on which the city has very limited jurisdiction. “We don’t control Big Ideas,” he said. Instead, if elected mayor, he will do the doable and address the urgent issues of safety and security.
Dave Cortese has served the people of San Jose for over 20 years as a County Supervisor, City Councilmember, Vice Mayor and School District Board Member. He is a small business owner and attorney and has the most number of years of experience among the five candidates. He drew a grim portrait of the current situation in San Jose. When he left the Vice Mayor position 5 years ago to become the Santa Clara County Supervisor, there were 1350 police officers who made San Jose the second safest cities in the country. “Now we have 906 officers. 70 officers are resigning per year. San Jose now has the lowest ratio of police officer to population in America.” People of San Jose do not feel safe. Jobs are scarce. Housing is not affordable. The woes have piled up alarmingly. If elected mayor, Cortese vowed to use his decades of experience and expertise to restore safety, services and prosperity to San Jose. While everyone utters the mantra of affordable housing that requires overcoming all kinds of bureaucratic and time-consuming regulations, Cortese will actively pursue the construction of faculty and student housing on college campuses, particularly at the Evergreen Valley College site, in partnership with the city and board of directors. Along with the other candidates, he talked movingly of the plight of the homeless In San Jose. About 4,000 people in San Jose are currently sleeping on the streets. College students, some of them of SJCC, are forced to sleep in their cars. “These are people who have jobs, who are earning money. But they have no warm bed to return to at night! It’s a tragedy!”
“Who do you trust to turn this around?” asked Dave Cortese of the audience.
Based on his practical, progressive and deeply-felt plan for San Jose, the answer seemed obvious.