December 6, 2021 7:00am

Chavez tops poll about mayor's race; Mahan and Peralez vie for second

The 2022 mayor’s race is shaping up as a three-person contest according to the latest San Jose Inside Power Poll.

By Stephen Buel
San Jose, CA Correspondent
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County Supervisor Cindy Chavez bested 14 other possible 2022 mayoral candidates in a recent survey of San Jose Inside Power Poll panelists asked to choose from among a list of actual or hoped-for candidates. City councilmember Matt Mahan came in second, with ranked-choice results suggesting that he or colleague Raul Peralez could pose a strong challenge to Chavez in the expected runoff election.

Meanwhile, clear majorities of panelists with opinions about redistricting oppose the proposed maps pushed by a coalition of labor and civil rights groups. Participants worry about a loss of conservative representation on the county board of supervisors, and loss of a dedicated city council seat for downtown San Jose.

However, most panelists do not believe that Chavez and her fellow supervisors should abstain from voting on redistricting just because they have ties to organizations that backed a plan, or potential candidates who might benefit from one particular map.

Finally, a huge majority of participants support the extension of the pandemic-era initiative under which restaurants and other businesses were allowed to provide services in parking spaces, streets and parks.

Here are the specific questions and responses to our poll:

Question 1

Last month’s San Jose Inside Power Poll inadvertently omitted a declared candidate from our question about the 2022 mayor’s race, so we’re returning to that topic this month. Please select your current favorites from among our list of declared and hoped-for candidates. The number one should represent your top choice in this three-round ranked-choice ballot.

Cindy Chavez, county supervisor — Score 1.267

Matt Mahan, city councilmember — Score .9

Raul Peralez, city councilmember — Score .8

Susan Ellenberg, county supervisor — Score .4667

Karyn Sinunu-Towery, former prosecutor — Score .4333

Dev Davis, city councilmember — Score .3833

Carl Salas, founder and principal of Salas O’Brien — Score .3667

Johnny Khamis, city councilmember — Score .25

Pierluigi Oliviero, planning commissioner — Score .2333

Pam Foley, city councilmember — Score .2167

Jason Rodriguez, executive at HP — Score .1833

Milan Balinton, executive director of the African American Community Service Agency — Score .1

Madison Nguyen, former vice mayor — Score .0833

Tyrone Wade, family counselor and former homeless shelter manager — Score .0333

Jonathan Royce Esteban, Tesla supervisor — .0167

Question 2

Santa Clara County supervisors will soon select a map for the redistricting of their own districts. Should they abstain from voting if they have ties with organizations that have proposed a potential map, or with potential candidates who could be affected by the shape of new districts?

No, all the supervisors have some sort of conflict of interest — 59%

Yes, that’s just basic good government — 34%

No opinion/don’t care — 6%

Question 3

A coalition of labor and civil rights groups has proposed a map that it says would boost minority and low-income representation, but which opponents say would thwart conservative candidates by excluding Los Gatos and the Almaden Valley from the typically conservative District 1. Do you support this plan?

No, conservatives deserve at least one seat on the board — 50%

Yes, enhancing minority representation is paramount — 38%

No opinion/don’t care — 13%

Question 4

Meanwhile, San Jose is redrawing its own legislative districts, and downtown interests are worried that the so-called “Unity” map advanced by labor and civil rights groups would split the now-unified downtown into separate city council districts. What do you think about that?

Downtown deserves its own council district — 67%

Enhancing minority representation is more important — 23%

No opinion/don’t care — 9%

Question 5

At the pandemic’s outset, the city council approved an initiative designed to let restaurants and other businesses provide services in parking spaces, streets and parks. Should the program be extended beyond its Dec. 31 expiration date?

Yes; it’s a wonderful change — 84%

Maybe; these projects should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis — 12%

No; we need that parking back — 3%

No opinion/don’t care — 0%

Analysis of Question 1

It is not surprising that Supervisor Chavez handily outpolled her rivals in our question about the 2022 mayor’s race. She has been a local elected official or candidate for almost a quarter century and was the frontrunner in polls during her 2006 bid for the mayor’s office.

Rather, at this stage in the still-nascent race, our ranked-choice survey sheds more light on which candidate will end up facing Chavez in the all-but-certain runoff.

In second-place, Councilmember Mahan held a clear but not overwhelming lead over his council peer Peralez. Given that our fourth- and fifth-place votegetters — Supervisor Ellenberg and retired prosecutor Sinunu-Towery — appear to have no interest in joining the contest, the mayoral race appears to be a three-person affair at this point. Chavez garnered votes from half of all participants during one of our three-ranked-choice rounds, with Mahan at 40 percent and Peralez at 37.

While the race is still early, Councilmember Dev Davis — the other well-known declared candidate along with Chavez, Mahan and Peralez — certainly cannot be happy with her sixth-place finish. Less than one quarter of all the participants in our poll selected Davis during one of the three rounds of voting.

Analysis of Questions 2-4

The labor and civil rights groups backing specific maps in the efforts to redraw the electoral districts of county supervisors and city councilmembers have touted their proposals’ likelihood to increase minority political representation. But participants in our poll oppose the coalition’s maps, due to the likelihood that it could keep even a single conservative from being elected to the board of supervisors, and result in downtown San Jose being partly represented by two different councilmembers.

Meanwhile, panelists seem to accept that redistricting is an essentially political act. They displayed relatively little concern about supervisors being allowed to vote for new maps that might favor their political allies or organizations with which they have been affiliated. Chavez once worked for one of the labor groups backing one plan, and several supes have ties to potential candidates.

Analysis of Question 5

No position has ever attracted more support from San Jose Inside Power Poll participants than allowing the city’s pandemic parklets to stay in operation past their current expiration date. Indeed, only three percent of respondents favor ending the city’s “Al Fresco” program, which suggests a sea change in our attitudes about parking. Councilmembers, take note; the initiative currently expires on Dec. 31.

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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