San Jose's new mayor faces council seat battle

Byby Elissa Harrington via KGO logo
Saturday, December 20, 2014
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San Jose's new mayor Sam Liccardo is taking heat for the way he wants to fill an open city council seat.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose mayor-elect Sam Liccardo hasn't even taken office yet, but he is already stirring up controversy. The issue is over appointing someone to fill a vacant seat on the city council.

The San Jose City Council is hearing from a handful of candidates and is expected to make a decision on Friday whether to appoint one of them to a vacant city council seat.

But opponents want Mayor Sam Liccardo to keep the seat open until a special election when the public can vote.

"It's unprecedented. It's dishonest. It's unethical," said Assemblyman Kansen Chu.

Kansen Chu is joined by the South Bay Labor council and members of the community blasting the process used to fill his San Jose City Council seat. Chu left because he was elected to state assembly.

The issue is with mayor-elect Sam Liccardo appointing someone to temporarily take his spot.

"This really is a trust issue," said Chu.

One he says that does not give the public a right to weigh in on who they want.

The new mayor is already taking heat from the police union who backed his opponent during a very close race in November. And he inherited Mayor Chuck Reed's pension reforms.

The city council is hearing from several candidates for the spot, but Liccardo has already thrown his support behind Margie Matthews. She is a former councilwoman who is willing to do the job for free.

"She has a strong record for independence and in fact has strong support from labor unions in each of her two successful elections. And we know those are the same special interests that have been very much opposing me," said Liccardo.

She also supported Liccardo's run for mayor.

San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra says Liccardo is trying to pack the council with votes in his favor.

"I think this is a sign of not being able to collaborate. And it is a sign of sign of weakness," said Kalra.

Liccardo has set a date for a special election in April with the winner seated in August.