San Jose election shifts power in City Council

Santa Clara County ballots are currently at 99 percent counted. View official election results here.  

November’s election results mark a notable shift in the balance of power in San Jose, away from Mayor Sam Liccardo’s business friendly control and towards labor. With the defeat of Lin Diep in District 4, and the decline in status of the Silicon Valley Organization, Liccardo’s slim margin of control on the City has eroded, making critical issues more of an uphill battle for the Mayor’s faction in the years ahead. 

District 4 incumbent Lan Diep lost his seat to David Cohen, who has served on the Berryessa Union School District Board for the past 14 years. Cohen’s labor backing shifts the power in the San Jose City Council from a business friendly council to a labor friendly one; Cohen campaigned on raising commercial linkage fees and requiring developers to build affordable units in their projects instead of paying in-lieu fees. He was endorsed by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, Senator Jim Beall and State Controller Betty Yee, among others. 

In District 6, incumbent Dev Davis kept her seat by a seven percent margin against candidate Jake Tonkel. The race between both candidates focused on affordable housing, opportunity housing, police reform and developer funding; Davis touted the approval of four high density Urban Village projects approved during her tenure, and vowed to continue fighting efforts to eliminate single-family zoning throughout the city. 

The race between Davis and Tonkel brought an onset of scandals, most notably the Silicon Valley Organization PAC’s racist attack ad against Tonkel. The fallout from the ad led to the resignation of Matt Mahood, who served as CEO, as well as the dissolution of the political action committee. 

Over three-fourths of San Jose voters approved a charter amendment to increase the authority of the Independent Police Auditor. The measure will increase police accountability by expanding the IPA’s authority to review officer-involved shootings and use of force incidents that cause death or great bodily injury. 

72% of San Jose voters approved a 1.5% tax increase on cardrooms that will generate approximately $15 million annually for the city. The tax increase will allow Casino M8trix and Bay 101 to increase the number of Card Tables to 128. 

The new council will first be tasked with shaping the future of the Diridon Station and Berryessa BART station development. They will also make decisions on the future development in North San Jose and the potential increase in housing density in single family neighborhoods.