San Jose's new mayor busy on first day in office

Thursday, January 1, 2015
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ABC7 News takes a look at Sam Liccardo's efforts to improve relations within the city of San Jose and the criticism he's already facing.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The new mayor of the Bay Area's largest city had his first day on the job on Thursday. Sam Liccardo began his day as San Jose's mayor at 1 a.m. That's when he rode along with police officers. ABC7 News takes a look at Liccardo's efforts to improve relations within the city and the criticism he's already facing.

Thursday evening, Liccardo toured San Jose's largest cold weather shelter and helped serve dinner to hundreds of the city's homeless which surprised many there.

James McKenzie, who is homeless, said, "Whatever his intentions are I hope they're for the right reasons."

Just about everyone is trying to figure out the new mayor who succeeds termed-out Mayor Chuck Reed. The former city councilman insists he wants to improve relations with the police department and the city's labor unions.

"It's important for me to see and hear what's really happening as we get rolling on the budget process in the coming months," Liccardo told ABC7 News.

Stacey Hendler Ross, with the South Bay Labor Council, said, "We don't see anything that instills confidence that he's really willing to reach across the aisle, willing to be collaborative."

Those at the South Bay Labor Council, which represents San Jose's unions, don't trust Liccardo. They question whether the new mayor will lure back employees and police officers who have left their positions, claiming benefits and wages are too low.

"The same folks who opposed me in the last election are going to continue to throw the rocks until we're able to demonstrate progress," Liccardo said.

Voters ABC7 News spoke with Thursday night are excited about the city's future.

San Jose resident Pedro Martin said, "I don't think the city needs too much change. Obviously safety is important, but I think the city is going in the right direction."

"I have a lot of hope for him," Virginia Morado of San Jose said.

Liccardo will officially be sworn in Tuesday.