New SJ Mayor Mahan vows to get 'back to basics' during public inauguration. Here's what that means

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Thursday, February 2, 2023
New SJ mayor vows to get 'back to basics' during public inauguration
During San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan's public inauguration, he said it's "critical that we move the needle on homelessness, blight, and crime."

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The City of San Jose's newly elected Mayor Matt Mahan addressed his supporters during his public inauguration on Wednesday evening.

Mayor Mahan was officially sworn into his two-year term at the beginning of the year in a private ceremony, and within his first month in office, he has helped the city battle a series of winter storms.

At the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, a packed house watched cultural performances and heard promises from the new mayor.

Mayor Mahan's inaugural address focused on his push to get "back to the basics."

"The reason I am pushing hard to get us back to the basics, to prioritize a few things that impact everybody's life - impact the collective quality of life, impact safety, impact our economic competitiveness - is that it's that critical that we move the needle on homelessness, blight, and crime."

VIDEO: Sam Liccardo reflects on 8 years in office as San Jose mayor, talks about legacy

"It's an honor to be in a place where you can have an impact at a time when people are really in need," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said as he reflected on his accomplishments and challenges.

Mahan introduced InaugurAction Days, meant to usher in a new era of resident engagement.

"Over the next ten weeks, clean-up in each of our ten council districts," he described. "We plan to get hundreds of residents out to directly play a role in cleaning up and beautifying their neighborhoods."

For the unhoused, he vows to work to expand programs like San Jose Bridge and Cash for Trash which employ unhoused residents. He hopes this will provide the population with opportunity, income and dignity of work.

"Next, we'll get back to basics by addressing unmanaged encampments," he said.

Mayor Mahan described wanting to scale up shelter capacity and transitional facilities- focusing on innovative approaches which he says are faster and more cost-effective. He named several solutions he hopes can lead to what he called an "end to the era of encampments."

"We simply can't wait for the next crisis to treat homelessness like the crisis it actually is," he shared.

RELATED: Santa Clara County counts the unhoused: An up-close look at the HUD's Point-in-Time Count

Speaking with reporters, he addressed, "Finally, we get back to basics by focusing on public safety."

He explained he is committed to doubling the rate of increasing police staffing from 15 officers per year over the next five years to 30 officers a year. He said this is necessary to improve response times across America's tenth-largest city.

"Today, our Priority One response time is seven minutes. Priority Two is 23 minutes, more than double our performance target," he shared. "That is the unacceptable result of low staffing levels."

In the crowd of supporters, Mahan acknowledged city leaders, supervisors, police, and fire chiefs. However, some felt the mayor had missed the message on other issues like animal welfare.

"I actually actively work with the homeless community, helping them get spay and neuter services, medical care, food for their pets," resident Jennifer Flick told ABC7 News. "It ties together. You can't address the homeless without also addressing their animals."

Elsewhere, resident Crystal Campisi explained, "I'm a medical marijuana activist and I'm trying to get taxes waived so people that use medical marijuana for their pains and ailments- because we shouldn't be paying taxes on that as a prescription."

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Mahan also acknowledged Supervisor Cindy Chavez who was in the audience. The two went head-to-head for the mayor's seat in November.

"We don't have the luxury of bickering or continuing the campaign," Mahan shared. "I think Supervisor Chavez realizes that we've got to work together now because our community needs us to work together and deliver results."

As his two-year term gets underway, Mahan detailed his determination to bring solutions to San Jose.

"The solutions don't have to all be mine," he told reporters. "In fact, they won't be. They'll come from across the ideological spectrum, they'll come from councilmembers representing a very diverse range of neighborhoods and districts. And that's probably a good thing."

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