New mayor chooses Kamei as vice mayor
Move is seen as an attempt to bridge the business-labor divide
Newly sworn-in San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan has chosen a labor-backed candidate for the city's vice mayor position, a move that is seen as a way to bridge the divide between his pro-business roots and the council's progressive wing.
In West San Jose's Rosemary Kamei, Mahan's could find a reliable ally on a council that came out in full force for his labor-backed opponent, Cindy Chavez, during a fierce fight for the mayorship in November. The mayor, who said he wants the city to tighten its focus on issues like homelessness and public safety, faced a difficult defeat at the end of the year after council members decided to fill two vacant seats through appointment despite Mahan advocating for a special election.
Kamei won a June primary contest for her District 1 seat with more than 60% of the vote and was able to garner support during the race from many corners of the city's ideological wings, including the South Bay Labor Council and San Jose Realtors. She also got endorsements from progressive candidates Sergio Jimenez and Raul Peralez, along with moderate Pam Foley.
“I would be honored to serve as vice mayor to the San José community and be able to have the opportunity to bring my expertise in governance and leadership to the San José City Council,” Kamei said in an announcement made Jan. 6 by the mayor's office. She was not available for comment Jan. 9.
Council members will vote on Kamei's appointment Jan. 24. At the council level, Kamei will fill in for Mahan and run the weekly public meetings when he is absent.
Kamei's past experience includes roles at the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the county's Board of Education. During her campaign last year, she ran on trying to increase the number of police foot patrols in a district that spans from Santana Row to Westgate Shopping Center.
In addition to Kamei's appointment, Mahan also announced several committee appointments, including David Cohen as chair of the Rules and Open Government and Transportation and Environment committees; Jimenez as chair of the Public Safety, Finance and Strategy Support committee; Foley as chair of the Community and Economic Development Committee; and Dev Davis as chair of the Neighborhood Services and Education committee.
Those appointments were voted on at the Jan. 10 council meeting.