Cindy Chavez’s announcement
Cindy Chavez has made it official: The Santa Clara County supervisor and two-time unsuccessful candidate for mayor of San Jose said last week she will not run for mayor in 2024.
Her announcement came in rather cryptic fashion at the end of a long email sent to supporters Thursday night, and at the end of a 90-second YouTube video posted on Thursday.
“While I have decided not to run for mayor of San Jose, I will continue to help move our city forward and help tackle the critical issues impacting our residents and community,” she wrote in the email. In the video, Chavez said, “While I won’t be running for mayor of San Jose, I wanted each and every one of you to know how grateful I am to you, and that you and your family will stay a priority for me and my family.”
Mayor Matt Mahan formed his re-election committee in August, and has begun collecting campaign contributions. No opponent has emerged to challenge the first-term mayor, who upset Chavez in 2022 for a two-year term. (San Jose voters that year changed the dates of mayoral elections to match up with the presidential, rather than gubernatorial, election cycle.)
The candidate filing period for the March 5 primary begins Nov. 13 and ends Dec. 8. If no other candidate emerges, Mahan will be the first unopposed mayoral candidate since the first popular election of a San Jose mayor in 1966.
Chavez, former staff director of the politically powerful South Bay Labor Council, had hoped in 2022 to leverage her support from public and private sector labor organizations into City Hall–organized labor contributed approximately $3.3 million of her $6.2 million campaign war chest.
Mahan spent about $3.5 million in 2022, much of it from business groups.
Mayor Mahan’s 24/7 campaign
The mayor has been in campaign mode since his election, visible at community events across the city and creating his own events and direct communications to build support for his policies outside of City Hall.
He cast a minority vote when the city council approved multi-year raises to end a walkout by city workers, convinced the council to reallocate some housing construction money for emergency tiny homes for the city’s unsheltered residents and pressed for more transparency in the city government.
The departure of Chavez from the 2024 race opens the door for a pro-labor candidate to seek to lead the nation’s 11th-largest city. But time is running out, with just four months to raise money for the primary fight. Combined spending by or for Chavez and Mahan in the primary and general election mayoral campaigns in 2022 exceeded $10 million.
Pro-labor cash on hand
Most recent filings with the San Jose City Clerk suggest the existence of a considerable labor war chest–cash balances of about $562,000 in city police and firefighter political action committees–for pro-labor council or mayoral candidates.
Thursday’s comments by Chavez, filled with thanks, reminders of her support and accomplishments and promises to continue to serve San Jose, suggested some future political aspirations in the South Bay. She terms out of the board of supervisors in 2024.