Election: Cindy Chavez concedes to Matt Mahan in tight San Jose mayoral race

The San Jose City Councilman will serve as the next San Jose mayor

Thursday, November 17, 2022
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Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez has conceded to San Jose City Councilman Matt Mahan in the tight race for San Jose mayor.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Eight days after the election, Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez has conceded to San Jose City Councilman Matt Mahan in the tight race for San Jose mayor.

Mahan only had a 51.32% to 48.68% lead over Chavez after a week of ballot counting.

It's been a tense battle since the summer after the two candidates won in the primary election to compete for mayor on the November ballot.

"While it was a hard-fought and contentious race the reality is we have to work together," Mahan said.

The two candidates raised millions in campaign funds and each got big-name supporters.

For Chavez that included the entire San Jose city council, minus Mahan.

However, Mahan won the support of Liccardo.

"Mayor Mahan will be a collaborative, dynamic, and thoughtful leader, who will ensure that our government works just as hard as the families we serve," said current Mayor Liccardo.

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Though a slim margin of votes separated the two since Election Day, Mahan consistently stayed in the lead and Chavez called him Wednesday to concede.

"It was great to hear from supervisor Chavez we had a really good conversation," he said. "She was very gracious and I thanked her for her years of service."

This is Chavez's second time running unsuccessfully for San Jose mayor.

"I think voters make choices based on what's best for them and their families," Chavez said. "I'm gonna just honor that and honor that voice."

"It's been a close race for mayor in four out of the five elections here," Mayor Liccardo told ABC7 News. "That's just the way we roll here in the City of San Jose. And so, we have these tough battles and then we come together and we get things done."

He added, "I think we do that much better than just about any other big city in the country."

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Chavez says she has concerns over what she calls mischaracterizations of her record by Mahan supporters, though she did steer clear from calling out Mahan personally Wednesday.

"Part of the reason that I'm raising (concern) is that I think it's really, really important that in elections that we're fair in how we characterize our opponents because it makes people who aren't in politics never want to run," Chavez said.

Mahan had pointed to outside interest groups.

"Both of us in the runoff were on the receiving end of a lot of unfair negative attacks and mail from outside interest groups," he said. "If it was up to me those interest groups wouldn't be able to spend that kind of money particularly promoting falsehoods and so I understand that frustration."

Now, Mahan moves from relative newcomer to new mayor-elect. He will serve a two-year term as San Jose's next mayor.

Mahan is a husband and father of two young children. The Watsonville native attended high school in San Jose.

"Grew up in a working-class community, and it was that work-study scholarship to Bellarmine here in San Jose that really gave me my shot in life," Mahan said. "And I fell in love with our city back then, back in the '90s here, as a commuter."

After college, Mahan returned to the city as a 7th and 8th-grade teacher in East San Jose. He's also worked in the tech sector as an entrepreneur and was elected to city council in 2020.

"He takes his time to really understand an issue before he speaks up," Liccardo said about Mahan. "And he's going to be very collaborative because I've seen him be that way on the council."

"The best politics is good policy, and doing a good job as mayor," Liccardo told ABC7 News. "I feel very confident he's gonna do a great job in the next two years. He's gonna be awfully tough to beat."

Liccardo is terming out in a matter of weeks, after eight years in office.

When asked what was next for him, Liccardo said, "I guess I'm going to have to go get a real job and work for a living... It's not such a horrible thing."

While we don't yet know what's next for him, Chavez has two years left on the County Board of Supervisors, meaning collaboration with Mahan as mayor will be inevitable.

Meantime, Mahan said he is building bridges.

"I wanna spend more time with folks, especially those who didn't support, to understand what they were looking for, what their perspective is," Mahan said. "I really believe that diverse teams and different perspectives get us the best outcomes."

"My obligation is to do what's right for the community, and that's going to continue to make me support those are an elected office and help them do a good job," Chavez said.

As for another try at the San Jose mayor's office, Chavez had this to say.

"I wouldn't rule it out. But here's the thing about these kinds of campaigns, they are not decisions that should be made by one person," she said. "I would talk to my family first, but the community as well."

Mayor-elect Mahan told ABC7 News, "My intention is to be out in the community doing beautification projects, clean-ups, and engaging in our encampments and getting people indoors. I mean, we're gonna have to be very hands-on. People don't want to hear how hard we're working, they want to see the results."

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