SAN JOSE (KCBS) – With the primary in the San Jose mayor’s race coming up on June 3, the five main candidates to replace termed-out Mayor Chuck Reed are jockeying for position.
Four of the candidates are on the San Jose City Council, with the fifth a member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
Two of the big issues in the race are crime and the impact of pension reform. They are linked in the fact that hundreds of officers have left since voters passed a pension reform ballot measure in 2012. All of the council members, including Sam Liccardo, said they feel rolling back some of the reforms would be a mistake.
“Anyone who talks about rolling back Measure B better find a way to pay for services and to put police officers out there,” Liccardo said. “We’re relying on $25 million in savings from Measure B in the coming year to restore police staffing.”
That view is shared by Councilwoman Rose Herrera. “Measure B and pension reform and fiscal responsibility is the foundation upon which I want to grow the economy in San Jose,” she said. “But that said, you need to have more vision than just pension reform.”
But County Supervisor Dave Cortese said he feels Measure B went too far. “The problem is they cut the benefits so deeply, that all the cops are leaving, you can’t hire anybody here, and there’s another 400 cities and counties around us that are paying a better benefits package, and a little more money to cops,” Cortese said. “So we’re bleeding police officers very seriously right now and we’ve got to stop that.”
Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen said she is in favor of maintaining the status quo. “I want to uphold the will of the voters. Nearly 70 percent of the voters voted to support pension reform,” she said. “We need pension reform intact to move this city forward.”
Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio is also not in favor of making any changes to the current city pension plan. “I would simply continue to increase the cash compensation of police officers, but not the pension benefit,” he said.
The top two finishers will square off in Novemeber.