Rose Garden Resident

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan seeks new level of collaborat­ion


The task for Matt Mahan as San Jose's new mayor was never going to be easy.

Not with a city still dealing with the pandemic, an economic downturn, homelessne­ss, a housing crisis and public safety concerns. Oh. Did we mention no returning councilmem­bers who backed him in the November election?

Then there's this: Last fall's mayoral campaign featured nasty attack ads from both sides that worsened the longstandi­ng divide between labor and business, making finding common ground on council issues that much harder.

It leaves the business-backed Mahan with three options:

• Fight with labor at every turn, likely resulting in little or no progress on the mayor's priorities.

• Capitulate to labor's agenda, which would anger those who elected him.

• Seek common ground with labor and find ways to collaborat­e in the best interest of San Jose residents.

We like the third option. And so does Mahan, as demonstrat­ed by his approach in his first days in office. It's a smart strategy. If labor is willing to cooperate.

Mahan last week nominated council newcomer Rosemary Kamei as vice mayor. It's an intriguing choice. Kamei was endorsed by the South Bay Labor Council — the same organizati­on that spent $5 million backing Cindy Chavez's effort to defeat Mahan.

But Kamei proved to be an independen­t voice on the Santa Clara County Board of Education, which explains in part why she was also endorsed for the City Council by the business-oriented Santa Clara County Associatio­n of Realtors. Kamei now represents District 1, the traditiona­lly moderate district that includes Santana Row and Westgate. If approved as vice mayor by

the full council Jan. 24, Kamei is perfectly positioned to serve as a bridge between labor and business.

Mahan then extended an olive branch to the four returning councilmem­bers who backed Chavez last fall. He selected Dev Davis, Pam Foley, David Cohen and Sergio Jimenez to serve on the powerful Rules and Open Government Committee, which controls the council agenda. The mayor will add a fifth member after the vacant District 8 and District 10 seats are filled.

Mahan's third significan­t move was creating five transition committees aimed at making the council laser-focused on what he sees as the city's five highest priorities: homelessne­ss, public safety, blight and beautifica­tion, economic developmen­t and innovation. The committees will consist of councilmem­bers, city staff and community members. They will meet for roughly eight weeks to make recommenda­tions on how the city should proceed and how to measure success. The latter is a key element of Mahan's campaign promise to bring more accountabi­lity to city government.

Getting the council on the same page and working collaborat­ively is a tall order. But give Mahan credit for taking meaningful steps to try to make it a reality.

 ?? SHAE HAMMOND — STAFF ARCHIVES ?? San Jose Mayor-elect, Matt Mahan, speaks during a press conference at San Jose City Hall on Nov. 28.
SHAE HAMMOND — STAFF ARCHIVES San Jose Mayor-elect, Matt Mahan, speaks during a press conference at San Jose City Hall on Nov. 28.

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