SAN JOSE (KCBS) — After eight years serving as a San Jose council member, Mayor-elect Sam Liccardo won a close race against Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese—both are Democrats and come from long-time San Jose families.

Quality of life issues—including crime, housing and transportation—top the concerns of city residents.

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When Liccardo takes offices in January as mayor of the tenth largest city in the nation, he will face discord among city employees including police and fire personnel over salary cuts and pension reforms.


He will also lead a city when one the largest homeless encampments in the country, known as the the “jungle.”

“This is a problem that is far greater than any one city’s resources to suddenly tackle but it’s a critical priority of mine,” Liccardo said.

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Liccardo said he’s working with homeless nonprofits with a “work first” approach to addressing homelessness.

“Dozens of people who were once living in Coyote creek, who are now cleaning that creek and the surrounding neighborhoods, in exchange their getting permanent housing, their getting job training, their getting food vouchers and their getting a step up to their next job.”

The city also has one of the highest costs of living and is also among the highest in per capita income.

As the capitol of Silicon Valley, San Jose is at the center of a revitalized tech, engineering and the green innovation economy but Liccardo said that manufacturing, though mostly moved off shore, still plays a big role.

“We have, believe it or not, about 18-17 percent of our workforce is engaged in some way in manufacturing in San Jose. People think it has long since gone—it’s not true, he said.

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Many old industrial buildings, he said, need to be upgraded to accommodate tech manufacturing and the city can help get that done so more jobs can be created.