July 22, 2020

A Current Review of the San Jose Mayor

By Chad Cole
profile photo of mayor at conference

The San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is now backing a proposal to move away from the city’s recent city manager-council form of government. For many years, political leaders already debated if San Jose will benefit from giving further authority to its incumbent mayor and in return, abandon the latest council-manager form of government.

In the proposal by Mayor Sam Liccardo, a hybrid of strong mayor system was employed by the greatest number of the major metropolitan cities in the United States. Among the country’s 10 most populated cities, only Phoenix, Dallas as well as San Jose implements the council-manager form of government.

The latest proposal will push the mayoral election to 2024 wherein labor wants. This means Mayor Liccardo gets an additional of 2 years in the office, or a decade’s total since he was sitting as mayor since 2014. Even more important, it can also provide the mayor more power to direct, appoint, and fire the city manager.

This provision neither goes into effect until July 1, 2023, 18 months before Sam Liccardo terms out, nor can it be applied to the city clerk, city attorney, independent police auditor, or city auditor. In this proposal, both the mayor and the city manager will have the power to fire over dozens of department heads. The city council can also overturn any firing through a 2/3 vote.

The mayor has been frustrated for his inability to implement and initiate action on problems in times of crisis, like the recent coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Liccardo stated that the public expects the mayor to have the authority to act. The recent system doesn’t allow that. It is about a fake accountability.

The mayor will still be a voting member of the council. However, unlike the strongest major forms of government, he doesn’t have the veto power on the policy decisions of the council. It also doesn’t allow the mayor to hire and direct department heads. Thus, hiring needs the approval of the council.

mayor with school children

The proposal that Mayor Liccardo supports also contains tightening campaign finance laws to restrict the influence of city contractors, lobbyists, and other direct beneficiaries of city contracts. It also advocates for a commission to identify if more sweeping reforms are necessary.

San Jose was the first-ever incorporated city in California state. Unfortunately, the residents don’t have the chance to weigh in how they will be governed since Jimmy Carter was the president. They hope that the city council will pass the proposal. It leads to public debate for the future of San Jose.

Mayor Liccardo also condemns the scheduled ice activity. He rejected the Trump Administration’s politics of exclusion and fear, which tears families apart. Mayor Sam Liccardo advocates the rights of the public. He encourages the community to keep vigilant for ICE agents entering business or home without valid warrant or consent. He added that people could report ICE activity locations, badge numbers, description of an ICE vehicle, photos, and other details to the Rapid Response Network at (408) 290-1144.