Matt Mahan Campaign Kick Off Remarks

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Good afternoon District 10!

Let’s hear it for our mayor, Sam Liccardo. Thank you Mayor for being here and for your leadership of this great city.

And a round of applause for Roxanne and Greg Koopman, thank you Roxanne and Greg! Thank you for all you do for our part of town.

And I see Councilmember Khamis here—thank you Johnny for being here and for your service to our district these past seven years.

Well it wouldn’t be a real campaign event if there wasn’t pizza, right? And we’re lucky to have some of the best pizza in San Jose. Thanks to Amin Rafsanjami for hosting us, and reminding us that small businesses can thrive in District 10 and that we want to see more of them here!

I am so grateful — to each and every one of you who is here to join me (even if you’re just here for the pizza) and I’m grateful to this San Jose community we are lucky enough to call home.

And I am especially lucky to have the best team along for this adventure — thank you to two of the most dedicated people I know — Matthew Quevedo and Kat Wilson.

Most importantly, to Silvia and Nina, and to my parents who are also here this evening. Thank you for all your love and support.

San Jose is the greatest city in the world, and this city’s history of opportunity is why I’m standing here today.

In 1847, just a few miles south of here at the New Almaden Quicksilver Mine, more than 1,800 miners and their families descended on San Jose during the Gold Rush in pursuit of prosperity. For nearly 150 years, miners toiled in the mines amid fierce land and political battles, and in dangerous conditions — all for the hope of a better life for their children. They came for opportunity, and so did I.

I didn’t grow up in San Jose. I was raised in Watsonville, on the other side of the hill, but I grew up reading about and dreaming about all the possibilities San Jose offered. At age 13, I decided going to high school in San Jose would give me a chance to see what was possible.

So I woke up every morning at 4:30 and took two public buses to make the 50-mile, often two-hour each way commute to Bellarmine. It was there, with the guidance and support of my teachers and friends, that I grew to know and love San Jose.

After college, I returned home to San Jose to teach at Joseph George Middle School in East Side. Those years teaching were some of the most informative years of my life.

I saw firsthand the challenges facing so many of our low-income students and how safe places to learn and grow are critical for our youth. I saw the inequities in resources and support — both inside and outside the classroom, whether it was extra curricular programs or nearby park maintenance. And I met some of the brightest and hardest-working students who inspired me each and every day to be a better teacher. I am fortunate to keep in touch with many of them to this day–I see Juan Hernandez here today; thank you for being here Juan—and am so grateful for all that my students taught me.

When it came time to decide where we wanted to put down roots, Silvia and I knew it had to be here in District 10 where we’re lucky to have many of the most beautiful and family-friendly neighborhoods in the city.

San Jose has shown us it is a great city — to raise a family, to start a business, to build a community and to cheer on some of the best teams in sports— Go Sharks and Go Quakes!

I’m running for City Council because I want San Jose to be a place of opportunity for everyone in every neighborhood, just as it has been for me. I want San Jose to be a place where my children and your children can afford to live and raise a family of their own.

I know we can make San Jose an even stronger community — and that starts with great neighborhoods. By empowering our neighborhoods so City Hall hears from us— not the special interests with the loudest voices— we can build a safer, more affordable, and livable community.

Together, we’ll build better neighborhoods by growing our police force back to pre-recession levels, by hiring more Community Service Officers so our police can be more visible and engaged in our community, and by supporting our grassroots Neighborhood Watch groups that are helping us tackle property crime.

We’ll build better neighborhoods by filling potholes, repairing our roads, improving transit and investing in the infrastructure we all use everyday.

We’ll build better neighborhoods by helping our homeless residents transition out of our creeks, parks and streets and into permanent housing. When it comes to homelessness—I will have a no excuses policy. There should be no excuse for us not to have enough basic shelter for everyone. I know Sam is working on that night and day—and I pledge to help him meet that goal. At the same time— there should be no excuse for anyone not to accept that shelter when it is there. People have both the right to shelter— and the responsibility to use it. And the same goes for mental health and substance abuse support—we have a responsibility to care for those who at times cannot care for themselves.

We’ll also build better neighborhoods by building housing for current and future generations. Now of course we need more housing, both market rate and affordable. But that housing MUST be denser and it must be linked to transit so that it will make our city better, not worse.

We’ll build better neighborhoods by preserving our open space and natural treasures like Coyote Valley that have unparalleled ecological and recreational value.

We’ll build better neighborhoods by supporting our families and ensuring that our children get an education that prepares them for tomorrow’s economy as well as their responsibilities as citizens. As a former teacher, I’m passionate about this issue–school boards may manage schools, but all of us are responsible for ensuring that all children, regardless of their background or abilities, have access to a high-quality education.

And most importantly, we will build a better and stronger San Jose by always remembering that local government exists solely to serve its residents, and no other interest or agenda.

You know, as I knock on doors throughout this district—in every neighborhood in this district—I get a real sense of just how hard people are working here. From taking care of kids to taking care of parents, from working overtime to pay a tuition bill to working nights and weekends as a volunteer – people here are working to make a better life and a better community. That’s why we need to make sure our government is working just as hard as we are and is just as accountable as we are.

There are many, many ways to do that. But there is one way I know will help – and that is complete transparency. The politicians and the staff who have so much power, managing billions of our tax dollars, need to know that we are paying attention and expect results. And that starts with making sure that there are fair, clear and achievable goals for everyone in our government.

At our own places of work, we have goals. In our government, there should be clear published goals that we can all see and track. In my business we embraced an idea called “radical transparency.” It’s maybe the only radical idea I’m willing to embrace, but we did it because it worked. We published our goals and our performance against those goals for everyone to see. The newest employee could see what my goals and responsibilities were—just as I could see hers. We all knew how we were doing and where we need to improve. Transparency and accountability will make our government smarter and more effective— and that’s what I will help bring to City Hall.

As your next Councilmember, I’ll be the voice of our neighborhoods. We’ll make sure City Hall remembers why so many of us came here in the first place — for safe, affordable, and welcoming communities full of opportunity.

This campaign is about putting our neighborhoods first. That means hearing from everyone, everywhere. Over the next several months this campaign is going to knock on every door, call every phone number, and talk to every neighbor. We want to hear your voice too—please reach out to me anytime through our website at MahanforSanJose.com and on social media.

So please join me as we work to improve every neighborhood in District 10. Together, we’ll build a city that provides a path to opportunity now — and for generations to come.

Thank you, everyone!

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