October 4, 2021 6:00am

Chavez and Mahan Outpoll Foes in Survey About Next Mayor’s Race

Panelists also support mayor’s proposal to combat homelessness, and favor stronger regulations to combat Covid-19.

By Stephen Buel
San Jose, CA Correspondent

In response to an open-ended call for the names of people they would like to see run for mayor next year, participants in the latest San Jose Inside Power Poll selected County Supervisor Cindy Chavez over all potential rivals.

Trailing closely behind the supervisor, who had not yet declared her candidacy at the time of our survey, was candidate and City Councilmember Matt Mahan, who outpolled the other two members of the council also seeking the office, Raul Peralez and Dev Davis.

Meanwhile, panelists expressed strong support for Mayor Sam Liccardo’s proposal to build and rehab housing to accommodate the city’s homeless population. Panelists also want the state to take a heavier hand in regulating water usage. Finally, respondents support firmer measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19 at restaurants and schools.

Here are the specific questions and responses to our poll:

Question 1

By this time next year, the San Jose mayor’s race will be in full swing. Sam Liccardo cannot seek re-election. From among eligible residents, who do you hope runs for mayor?

Question 2

The mayor and six councilmembers recently unveiled a proposal to accelerate construction and rehabilitation of temporary housing for the city’s homeless population. The plan calls for building 1,500 new units and readying another 800. What are your thoughts about homelessness in San Jose? Please select up to four positions you share, with the numeral 1 representing greatest agreement.

I applaud the new initiative. More temporary housing is sorely needed — Score 2.56

The city also needs to spend more on mental health and drug treatment — Score 2.06

Blight reduction should be a higher priority. Some camps are squalid — Score 1.54

The city should do whatever it takes to house anyone who needs the help — Score 1.02

Some cities don’t have this problem. We need to stop tolerating such behavior — Score .56

Yes, housing is very costly, but homelessness is primarily a lifestyle choice — Score .52

The mayor’s proposal sure seems expensive. We have other needs — Score .22

Question 3

San Francisco, Berkeley and Contra Costa County now require restaurants to make customers age 12 and older prove they are vaccinated against Covid-19. Should Santa Clara County?

Yes — 77.2%

No — 19.3%

No opinion/don’t care — 3.5%

Question 4

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that children accounted for almost 26 percent of new Covid cases during the week ending Sep. 16. School districts in Los Angeles and Oakland recently mandated that students 12 and up be vaccinated, and a state official said California is considering that. Do you support such policies?

Yes — 84.2%

No — 14%

No opinion/don’t care — 1.8%

Question 5

Californians have failed to heed the governor's request to reduce their water usage by 15 percent. Between July 2020 and July 2021, average residential usage fell by only 1.8 percent, although San Jose Water customers cut consumption by 11 percent and city water customers by 10 percent. Should the state regulate water use?

Yes, the state should mandate cuts when necessary — 37.5%

We need a sea change. Large lawns and unwise agriculture should be regulated — 37.5%

No, this is a local issue — 23.2%

No opinion/don’t care — 1.8%

Analysis of Question About Mayor’s Race

When Chavez launched her long-expected candidacy last week, the likely contours of the 2022 mayor’s race became clear. Chavez and Peralez will battle to corral the labor vote, while Mahan and Davis will seek the support of business interests.

Seven other names also were floated in our survey, including Milan Balinton, executive director of the African American Community Service Agency; Supervisor Susan Ellenberg; Councilmembers Pam Foley and Johnny Khamis; Jason Rodriguez, government affairs manager at HP; Carl Salas, founder and principal of Salas O’Brien; and retired prosector Karyn Sinunu-Towery. However, none of these nominees received significant support in the survey. No one nominated the race’s other two declared candidates, Jonathan Royce Esteban or Tyrone Wade, nor two people who have been mentioned as potential candidates, former Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen or Planning Commissioner Pierluigi Oliviero.

Chavez has long-standing ties to labor, having helmed the South Bay Labor Council and Working Partnerships USA. However, Peralez also has labor backing, aided by his years as a math teacher and San Jose police officer.

Mahan, a former tech executive, has pledged a data-driven approach to solving the city’s problems, highlighting crime, grime, homelessness, and the failings of the very government he hopes to lead. Davis has highlighted a somewhat similar range of issues, and has tended to favor policies backed by the mayor and the city’s business establishment.

Stay tuned. Next month’s San Jose Inside Power Poll will ask our panelists to select their favorite nominee from among this entire list of actual, rumored and hoped-for mayoral candidates. The mayoral primary is set for June 7, 2022.

Analysis of Homelessness Question

Panelists displayed strong support for the plan from the mayor and six councilmembers to build or rehab up to 2,300 units of temporary housing. Respondents also favor a range of other measures, including efforts to reduce blight and provide more treatment for drug addiction and mental illness. Little support was shown for any of the options that called into question strong action on behalf of the homeless.

Analysis of Water Use Question

Facing a recall election during the height of our multi-year drought, it is not surprising that Gov. Gavin Newsom has not sought mandatory restrictions on water usage — which likely would be unpopular in agricultural regions and some leafy suburbs. Had he acted more boldly, however, such actions would be broadly popular with the panelists who weighed in on this issue. Exactly 75 percent favor a stronger state response to the drought, with half calling for a “sea change” in state regulation of water.

“Water use needs to be completely rethought,” wrote panelist Jason Aleksander of San Jose State University. “It isn't just a matter of cutting/reducing the total volume of water that we use for household activities or agriculture (though we inevitably will have to do this). It's also about how we use what we use. For instance, I would like to see incentive programs to encourage households and housing developments to implement greywater recycling for irrigation purposes.”

According to data compiled by meteorologist Jan Null, California just experienced its driest rain year since 1895. If the drought persists into 2022, Newsom may not be able to avoid a statewide clash over this issue.

Analysis of Questions About Covid-19

Panelists displayed broad support for two additional measures that could be taken to safeguard people during the pandemic. More than 77 percent would favor a policy to require restaurants to make customers age 12 and older prove they are vaccinated. And more than 84 percent would support a requirement that students 12 and up be vaccinated. Those two results are almost identical to the views expressed by participants in last week’s related Oakland poll — perhaps unsurprisingly here in the healthiest region of the healthiest state.

San Jose Inside Power Poll is not a scientific poll. Rather, we ask questions of influential people with a wide range of viewpoints to help advance informed dialogue about the city. Power Poll is studiously non-partisan.

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