City of San Jose Mayoral Candidates Answer Questions Vital to Voters Ages 50+

Posted on 05/10/22

AARP is committed to ensuring voters have the information they need to cast their ballot. That is why we are sharing how City of San Jose Mayoral Candidates plan to act on three critical issues important to 50-plus voters if elected. These issues include: (1) housing, (2) transportation and (3) high-speed internet access.

Candidate responses are listed below in alphabetical order by last name.

QUESTION 1 - AFFORDABLE HOUSING: For many older adults, the cost of housing in San Jose – which is among the highest in the state – is an extreme burden. Senior homelessness is on the rise and even older adults who can afford to stay in San Jose are losing their support networks as family, friends, and caregivers leave due to the high cost of housing. Meanwhile, most older adults want to remain in their current homes and communities as they age. As Mayor, what would be your strategy to keep older adults in their homes and community?

Cindy Chavez - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

We need to take steps to make sure our San Jose is once again affordable for our seniors, veterans, and working families to live here. This includes giving the city’s Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Department the resources it needs to move projects through the approval pipeline more quickly. We also need to allow up to four General Plan updates per year in order to be able to respond quickly to changing circumstances and opportunities that arise to increase the housing supply and grow smartly.

I was an architect of Measure A, a $950 million voter-approved housing bond. The bond has already resulted in 4,400 units of affordable or supportive housing being built or being in the construction pipeline.

I currently sit on the Valley Transportation Authority Board of directors and am leading the effort to develop affordable housing on approximately 200 acres of land that are on transit corridors. This will not only add more affordable housing in San Jose but also help decrease the regional carbon footprint by making transit more attractive to those living in the adjacent developments.

Matt Mahan - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

San Jose, and our region at-large, faces a housing affordability and supply crisis which disproportionately affects our seniors and older adults. As Mayor, I will work to identify state and regional funds for constructing affordable housing for our most vulnerable populations. The County’s Measure A works towards this goal — though it’s not scalable when taxpayers are footing an $850,000 bill for each new unit constructed, which is why we also have to focus on reducing the construction costs.

It’s estimated that an over $1.5 trillion investment is needed to address the state’s 3.5 million home shortfall. We can’t realistically tax ourselves enough to meet this shortfall through subsidized affordable housing alone, as important as that approach is. Moreover, most of today’s affordable units were market-rate housing 40-plus years ago. To truly address displacement at scale we will need to continue to encourage private investment in housing. While this approach doesn’t address the immediate need of our most vulnerable residents, it is essential for controlling housing costs and preventing buyers from bidding up the price of our existing scarce affordable housing stock.

Raul Peralez - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

As a native of San José, I have personally experienced the struggles of our affordable housing crisis. I grew up in affordable housing, a rent-controlled 4-plex in West San José, and to date, most of my family and friends are still renting and unable to purchase a home or have moved out of the area in search of more affordable housing. This has been a very personal issue for me and over the last seven years as the District 3 San José City Councilmember I have been one of the strongest supporters of affordable housing. I led the effort to strengthen our rent control and tenant protection policies, I have helped build the most units of affordable housing than anywhere else in the city, and I championed the creation of a commercial linkage fee policy that requires commercial developers like Google to do their part in building affordable housing. These efforts have helped to ensure older adults and all San José residents can continue to stay here. I have stood out amongst the other candidates as the strongest proponent of affordable housing and I’m proud to have the endorsement of South Bay YIMBY to show for it. As Mayor, I will continue to be the strongest advocate and ensure we create a city where our parents and grandparents can age in place and where our children and all of us can afford to live.

Jim Spence - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

As seniors age the need for secure shelter and health care come hand and hand. Before seniors get to the critical stage where they need assistance in these areas, they need to have a plan on how they want to manage their lives. For those who have close family and friends, their support group is already in place. By downsizing possessions early on seniors can help make any change in living accommodations easier on everyone. Selling the big house is often very difficult on the mind as well as the pocketbook. Many seniors will not be able to qualify for affordable housing because of previous homeownership. A plan would be to find special programs for low-cost loans for seniors to refinance their residence. This will mean we will need to reach out to senior oriented non-profit providers. City programs should be implemented to expedite permits for ease of construction or remolding projects for additional housing units on a seniors existing property. As Mayor I would have a list complied and available to our residents about the various senior organizations and what services they provide. Our Community Centers will need to be brought into compliance standards so seniors can access food, medical resources and educational opportunities. City taxpayer monies spent on programs for youth and seniors will have to be equally divided so no one feels left behind.

Marshall Woodmansee - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

I will strengthen our communities by making space for people and their needs. We will make neighborhoods safe by slowing down and appropriately eliminating vehicle traffic, designate undeveloped land as community spaces for connection, education, food growing, and health care services, and increase the occupancy of residential properties to share the burden of rent across multiple tenants. I will make “home zones” where walking, biking, rolling (wheelchairs), and skating are safe for all people and engineering projects prohibit speeding and eliminate heavy traffic. I will advocate for national policies that enable people to stay in their communities such as Universal Basic Income, starting with those most vulnerable–youth and elderly. I will enable the densification of our residential neighborhoods through financial incentives to create duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, and accessory dwelling units (ADU’s). Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in San Jose means making our neighborhoods inviting, safe, and sustainable for all people. Any parcel of undeveloped land near neighborhoods should be used for community purposes (public food gardens, exercise spaces, classrooms, and healthcare facilities, for example) to increase the quality of life of our neighbors, preventing development of hotels, office buildings, and high-rises in our neighborhoods. By increasing bus service and making biking and walking safe for all, elders can choose to get rid of their personal vehicle, saving thousands of dollars per year.

QUESTION 2 - TRANSPORTATION SAFETY: Transportation safety for people of all ages, particularly older adults, is an increasing concern in San Jose. Traffic fatalities in 2021 equaled historic pre-pandemic highs of 60 in San Jose.  Of these fatalities, over 40% involved older adults (50+). Unfortunately, in 2022 the number of fatalities has risen to 23 in the first 3 months, with pedestrian deaths the largest contributor. As Mayor, what specific action would you take to reduce and eliminate older adult transportation fatalities – particularly for pedestrians and bikers?

Cindy Chavez - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

Transportation safety is really important to me, and to improve ours, we need to ensure there are proven safety measures that protect people of all ages. Some of my top priorities are safe bike lanes, sidewalks, and public transportation.  Safety is improved when sidewalks and bike lanes are clearly separated from cars, speed control methods are advanced and enforced, and public transportation is fast, reliable, and gets people where they want to go.

As Mayor, I would make the current bike lanes less confusing for drivers and cyclists. I would work on updating all of our traffic light crossings, as we have been doing at the county level, so that they include speed detection technology and adjust the crossing time to meet the needs of pedestrians crossing the street. I would evaluate other sidewalks and street crossings for safety improvements, such as flashing crossing lights at crosswalks and opportunities to implement barriers between the road and sidewalk. I would also continue my current support for public transportation by finding innovative ways to fund improvements that increase its accessibility, reliability, and speed.

Matt Mahan - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

I’m deeply concerned by the sharp rise in traffic fatalities on our streets — there are three main areas I’d focus on.

First, enforcement. Speeding has gotten worse during the pandemic, and our traffic enforcement unit is woefully understaffed. We need to rebuild our enforcement capacity to hold dangerous drivers accountable and promote safer driving habits.

Second, technology. We can better target enforcement in dangerous intersections and accident hotspots by implementing camera technology (of course, with robust data deletion and privacy policies), such as automatic license plate readers. We can also use camera footage to understand where near-misses are occurring, identify what may be driving these near-misses, and then determine how we can make physical or operational changes in these areas to reduce the probability of future accidents. As Chair of the Smart Cities Committee of the City Council, I’ve worked closely with city staff to help San Jose better leverage digital tools to achieve our “Vision Zero” plan, which aims to eventually achieve zero annual traffic fatalities.

Third, infrastructure. In accident hotspots, we can leverage the built environment to improve safety by narrowing lanes, building out median strips, installing speed humps and Botts’ dots, and adding more prominent crosswalks to influence driver behavior.

Raul Peralez - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

Two years ago I volunteered to Chair our city’s Vision Zero Task Force, focused on reducing traffic related fatalities to zero, because I was alarmed at the rate of traffic related injuries and fatalities occurring throughout our city. I have worked closely with AARP as you have had a seat on the Task Force since its inception and just recently I hosted a public town hall meeting due to the dramatic increase in fatalities this year. There are more people dying in traffic related incidents than from gun violence or any other preventable cause. We need to elevate the prioritization of our Vision Zero goals and adequately fund traffic calming projects and traffic enforcement citywide. I have long advocated for more equitable funding for traffic calming efforts within my council district but as Mayor, I would ensure we are doing so citywide and that we create a city that is safe for older adults and everyone to travel throughout.

Jim Spence - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

One of the first issues needing to be addressed is the lack of police for our city. The appearance of officers on the streets has shown to be a deterrent to motor vehicle driver abuse. Our world is moving at a fast pace. Driving requires all of one’s attention. In the automobile industry self-driving innovations, use of sensors for control of the vehicle while driving has greatly contributed to our rise in traffic fatalities. As Mayor, I would have school districts initiate an education component to teach pedestrian safety and attentive driving curriculum to our newest drivers. Included in this curriculum would be safety rules for using bike lanes, operating motorized scooters and skateboards. I would have massive media educational campaigns aimed at seniors about the obstacles of being a pedestrian. Simple measures of wearing bright clothing, no cellphone use when close to intersections, making eye contact before trying to cross a roadway are elementary steps. Another important component is the need for public transportation to be safe and clean for seniors. We need to assure we continue to have senior passes for public light rail and buses. These passes being at a deep discount. The installation of camera technology on all our public transportation vehicles would enhance enforcement response and a visual deterrent effect on would be criminals. As a City we need to monitor our major intersections for maintenance of overhead lighting and timing of our pedestrian traffic signals to accommodate our aging seniors.

Marshall Woodmansee - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

I will create separated bike lanes on all streets in San Jose. On larger streets, one lane in both directions will be used to create a lane for electric micro-mobility devices and e-bikes, pedal bikes, and anyone else who wants to use the land. On two lane streets, traffic will be slowed to 15 MPH using speed bumps, tight turn areas, and reduced lane size. Separations can be made of garden beds for the planting of fruit trees. Wood is the best material to use as it has a lower carbon footprint than concrete which produces a lot of carbon dioxide in its creation. When every street has a protected bike lane of traffic controls to reduce speeds to 15 MPH, there will be very little risk in getting around this city without a private automobile. Furthermore, I support developing an extensive system of free, electric buses to enable zero car-dependency. Free, electric buses that connect every neighborhood in San Jose to crucial services and the expansion of private transport services to enable transportation freedom will have a major impact on San Jose’s greenhouse gas emissions and improve our quality of life. We must tackle our traffic issue by enabling people to leave their car at home or sell/scrap it.

QUESTION 3 - HIGH-SPEED INTERENT ACCESS: Older adults represent 12.9% of the population in Santa Clara County and 38.2% of these older adults live below 200% of the Federal Poverty level.  For many older adults the cost of high-speed internet in their homes is prohibitive.  Older adults without high-speed internet access can be isolated from family and friends, unable to communicate effectively with medical providers and have limited access to essential services.  Older adults may also lack devices and the skill to use them. As Mayor, how will you include older adults in your plans to provide affordable high-speed internet access and digital literacy to the community?

Cindy Chavez - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

For more than two years I have been working to close the digital divide not only in San Jose but statewide as well. In 2021, I joined county supervisors from throughout California in a high-profile successful advocacy effort that helped secure passage of SB 156, which has committed $6 billion to expand broadband internet access in California. Here in Santa Clara County, I co-authored the historic proposal passed unanimously by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in December to create a publicly owned internet service provider to bring affordable fiber optic broadband service not only to the 73,000 county residents who are currently unserved but also the almost 690,000 who are underserved and dependent on a single provider for broadband service and thus at the mercy of a monopoly for pricing, customer service, and reliability.

As Mayor of San Jose, I would make sure San Jose fully participates in the County’s publicly owned broadband service and I would work to expand it city-wide so all residents would have an affordable public option for internet service to bring more competition to the market.

I will also make sure that city libraries and community centers have devices and assistance available at scheduled times specifically for senior internet access.

Matt Mahan - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

In a rapidly digitizing world, access to the internet and the ability to use it is vital for safety, health, social connection and so much more. San Jose, as the capital of Silicon Valley, must lead the way on bridging the digital divide.

Mayor Liccardo has helped San Jose make great strides in this area through the Digital Inclusion Fund and creation of SJ Access, and I’ve been proud to support this program. SJ Access connects residents — especially low-income families and older adults — to free devices like computers and hotspots and sponsors computer classes at community centers, including some targeted towards older adults. We’ve also dramatically expanded broadband access in East Side San Jose leveraging the physical infrastructure of our libraries and schools to deploy hotspots. It’s important to meet people where they’re at with these programs — whether it be a convenient location, time, or language. I’ve worked closely with the Almaden Senior Association on promoting senior programming at our community centers, emphasizing accessibility.

Through my decade founding and leading companies in the tech sector, my time on the Executive Board of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and my service as Chair of the Smart Cities Committee at City Hall, I’ve developed relationships with key partners like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast, which I will leverage to expand broadband access. As Mayor, I’ll work to build on SJ Access and expand its reach to enable broadband access to everyone in San Jose, regardless of age, income, or neighborhood.

Raul Peralez - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

The City stepped up our investment in digital equity over the last two years to ensure all students could have access to the crucial devices and internet service they needed as they worked from home. I have been proud to support these investments and we have learned that many more people in our community, like our isolated older adults, could also benefit from the same equitable access. We have since expanded our device and hotspot rental access at our public libraries and we have partnered with internet service providers to ensure the expansion of their free or reduced services throughout the city. As Mayor, I would continue our investment in addressing the digital divide and I would expand those efforts to specifically include a focus on our low-income older adult population.

Jim Spence - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

The latest pandemic showed the need for human contact even if it was by electronic devices. National statics show seniors use phones more than any other means to communicate or access the internet. Nationally 83% of seniors used a devise to connect to the internet 2 twice a week. Most seniors do not own or use a portable laptop or an iPad type device. With all the new emphasis on doing health care remotely and obtaining necessary medications seniors are becoming very disadvantaged if they can’t use an internet device. The Federal government has tried to facilitate the spread of the availability to internet connections nationwide. Their efforts have been less than successful. The United States lags far behind the other industrial nations in having national internet service, speed of the internet connections and cost to gain access. As Mayor I would join the national call for help and solutions to this mounting problem. A recent study showed 53% of seniors using internet devices reported problems doing connecting and communicating. In general, seniors and the youngest students need the same type of education on how digital communication works. They both need age-appropriate education on how the internet connection works, access to an internet enabled device and internet hotspot equipment for connecting. That’s why as Mayor I would make a regional plea to non-profits to fund and educate seniors. We all share a responsibility to help our seniors enjoy the digital age and the enhancements it brings to their will being.

Marshall Woodmansee - City of San Jose, Mayoral Candidate

I will work with technology companies operating within San Jose, and those interested in moving here, to provide high-speed internet to every person. I believe that access to the internet is a natural right. I will work with private and public partners to ensure every resident has access to quality internet service. A big part of my platform is to preserve existing undeveloped land to promote the well-being of our people. I believe that we need more educational centers, more public classrooms, more public food gardens, more clinics to treat drug addiction, and more places for us to relax, exercise, and connect with each other. I will partner with San Jose State University and high schools and community colleges to create a recurring series of educational sessions to teach digital literacy for free using the City Council chambers. In these sessions, basics will be taught, 1-on-1 help can be administered, and mentors can offer their on-going services to assist elders in connecting with digital technology. We are a hotspot for 21st technology and every person in this city must have access to high-quality internet and the knowledge needed to safely and effectively navigate the online world. Undeveloped land throughout our city should be bought by the city to enable increases in people's well-being. Instead of building a hotel, we should expose the soil, create walking paths in the property, and set up structures to enable learning, health, and connection.

AARP has a proud history of nonpartisan voter engagement and does not endorse or oppose candidates or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. All San Jose Mayoral Candidates were invited to participate in this questionnaire. Additional candidates running for Mayor of San Jose that did not respond include Dev Davis and Travis Hill.



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