Matt Mahan wins San Jose mayoral election


Used with permission from Matt Mahan

Mahan’s campaign seeks to diminish the homelessness and housing crises in the city while earning the community’s trust.

Vidushi Upadhyay, Staffer

It’s time we have someone in office who’s willing to challenge the current establishment.

— Nathan Vong, Senior

Matt Mahan will assume office as mayor of San Jose on Jan. 1, 2023 after narrowly defeating runner-up Cindy Chavez and six other candidates in the mayoral election on Nov. 8. His campaign aims to diminish the homelessness and housing crises in the city and earn the community’s trust.

On June 7, Mahan and Chavez advanced to the general election after both led in the primary election without more than 50% of the votes individually; Chavez had 39.3% and Mahan 32.2%. Mahan won the general elections with 51.3% of the 240,251 total votes, according to county elections data. On Nov. 16, Chavez conceded and congratulated Mahan on his victory. 

“This change in leadership is exciting for me because it’s time we have someone in office who’s willing to challenge the current establishment with the support of the people,” said senior Nathan Vong, an intern for Mahan’s campaign.

Although Mahan has limited experience as a politician, he has been heavily involved in the community through his two companies and role in city council. 

Mahan first joined a startup for the early Facebook app, Causes, which he became the CEO of in 2013. With Causes, users spread awareness and raise money for their chosen nonprofits. In 2014, Mahan co-founded Brigade, a nonpartisan platform for voters to discuss current issues and elected officials. This gave the world its first voter network used by millions  during presidential and midterm elections. 

Mahan’s business background inspired his advocacy for government officials’ salaries to be dependent on the quality of their work. The City Council rejected this idea when he first proposed it, but one of Mahan’s three main priorities is to bring this change and hold the government accountable.

“This strategy should be incredibly effective and increase San Jose’s progress rate as it will motivate the city officials to fully contribute to their projects and will result in higher efficiency,” junior Gauri Jain said. 

In his early involvement with the city, Mahan was a part of seven neighborhood and civic boards, including the City of San Jose’s Clean Energy Community Advisory Commission, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.  

Mahan joined the City Council in 2020, and has shown commitment to improving the homelessness crisis and government accountability. He was the first council member to hold a press conference disagreeing with a policy that would give developers permission to build re housing opportunities for residents. Mahan believes this plan was a last-ditch effort by a council that had failed to implement a general housing plan they had passed 10 years ago. 

In his first term, Mahan hopes to efficiently implement his homelessness plan, which the City Council chose in the 2021-22 fiscal year but has been slow to put into action. The plan will prohibit encampments in commonly used public spaces, such as schools and parks, and will also build affordable housing near public transit and workplaces. He expects this strategy to majorly contribute to cleaning the city and ending homelessness in San Jose.

“We’ll soon start to see more smart housing and better programs for the homeless.” Vong said. “Matt has always been clear on his belief that we should be handling the major issues of our city, like homelessness, as if they were caused by a natural disaster. I believe he’ll bring quick change because that’s what the people of San Jose need now, not later.”

Mahan acknowledges that the San Jose government must be more transparent to maintain a good relationship with its citizens. To do this, Mahan designed a public dashboard of results — a publicly available record of the actions made by the city. Having access to reports of the city’s progress would allow residents to understand the city’s priorities and efficiency. 

“His proposals seem like a long shot, but with the support of the city and the people, he could tackle issues that have been plaguing our city for years,” Jain said. “Mahan has a tactical and logical way of approaching these issues, and San Jose could really progress during his term.”