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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Santa Clara County, CA June 8, 2010 Election
Smart Voter

Sam T. Liccardo
Answers Questions

Candidate for
Council Member; City of San Jose; Council District 3


The questions were prepared by the Leagues of Women Voters of Santa Clara County and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

Questions & Answers

1. What experience related to city government would you bring to the City Council?

In 2006 I was honored to be elected to represent San Josť's downtown district, District Three, on the San Josť City Council. In this role I serve in key leadership roles, as the Chairperson of the Council's Transportation and Environment Committee, Vice Chair of the Community and Economic Development Committee, and as Co-chair of the Envision San Josť 2040 General Plan Update Task Force. I also serve as the Chair of the Board of the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), as an Executive Board Member of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), and Vice President of the Santa Clara County Cities Association.

As a representative on the San Josť City Council, I advocate for the downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods, where my family has lived for three generations. My priorities have focused on neighborhood empowerment, environmental stewardship, accelerating downtown's economic development, improving the valley's transit system, expanding affordable housing opportunities, and facilitating the creation of health care services in the downtown.

2. What concerns are of particular importance to the city and how would you address them?


I have been working to reinvigorate Downtown San Josť through the deepest national recession in three-quarters of a century. I pushed to bring Safeway downtown, and led a successful effort to waive parking costs and other fees for small businesses and festival producers. I fashioned the Peralta Plan to redevelop key parts of Downtown west of Market Street; we're now seeing the fruits of that effort with the recent opening of an incubator for 25 start-up technology companies, and the opening this fall of the San Pedro Urban Market. I have sought to expand opportunities for clean tech investment and jobs, with recent openings two Downtown innovation centers for start-up companies, and a clean tech manufacturing initiative underway. I also led the effort to bring a privately-funded baseball stadium Downtown, and a privately-financed soccer stadium near the Airport.

2) KEEPING FAMILIES IN THEIR HOMES I spearheaded an effort to create incentives for local banks to avoid foreclosing on troubled homeowners in San Josť. This initiative has now become a model followed by San Francisco and other cities. Sam has also led efforts to expand its "inclusionary" affordable housing policy citywide, to make living in San Josť more affordable.

3) ADDRESSING OUR CHRONIC BUDGETARY SHORTFALLS I have been outspoken in the need for City Hall to tighten its belt during these difficult times to preserve city services to our residents, and to preserve jobs. I believe that such behavior starts at the top; I've successfully pushed to reduce councilmembers' salaries each of the last two years, in an effort to encourage all of our employee groups to take smaller cuts of their own compensation. I've also pushed for structural reform of our pension and retiree healthcare plans--simply, benefit reductions for future hires and higher copayments and shared costs by current employees--to ensure that future promises to employees will better align with the taxpayers' very limited ability to meet those obligations.

4) PRESERVING OUR PLANET WITH GREENER TRANSPORTATION AND OTHER OPTIONS As the Chairperson of the Valley Transportation Authority, I have fought through tough budgets to preserve key transit routes in the Downtown. My efforts to keep BART-to-Silicon Valley on track have us under construction on the southward expansion of the BART line in Alameda County, with the first trains to run from San Josť by 2018. Construction has also begun on an innovative "Bus Rapid Transit" project, which will carry more riders more quickly in segregated lanes along Santa Clara Street. An avid cyclist, I have led initiatives to boost bicycles as a commute option, including a soon-to-be launched "bike share" program; tripling the rate of bicycle commuting in San Josť since 2006.

In other ways, I have worked with our community to better our environment. As Chair of the City Council's Transportation and Environment Committee, I strongly supported of the Mayor's Green Vision, including the investment of Redevelopment dollars to spur growth of alternative energy and other clean technology companies in San Josť. My Council office coordinated a successful effort with neighborhood leaders to negotiate a discounted "bulk purchase" of solar arrays on the roofs of dozens of downtown homes. I led an initiative to help keep single-use plastic and paper bags out of our landfills that will save residents and businesses millions in clean-up and disposal costs. I also authored a policy to halt the purchase of single-use plastic water bottles at City Hall. Most importantly, as Co-Chair of San Josť's Envision 2040 General Plan update, I have worked to focus development downtown and along key transit corridors, to preserve our hillsides and open space.

3. How would you balance the needs of the City as a whole with groups' interests?

As soon as I got into office, I convened the leaders of every one of the two dozen neighborhood groups in my district, and we meet monthly to discuss the most pressing issues at City Hall. Relying on their input and my own independent judgment, I make every decision with a view to the long-term, best interest of all of the residents of San Josť. My decision-making on everything from pension reform, to budgetary restraint, to affordable housing, to environmental protection has given me a reputation as a leader with a unique independence from the most powerful forces in City politics--unions, developers, and lobbyists. I have no illusions about the need to hang on to my job, and I'll happily serve until it comes time for me to return to the private sector, so I feel no need to appease powerful interest group to remain in office. That approach gives me a unique freedom to decide issues independently and in the best interests of all of the residents I serve.

4. How much money do you expect to raise/ spend on your race, and how will you assure voters that financial contributions will not affect your decisions/positions should you be elected?

I will raise and spend less than the maximum amount allowed in this race, perhaps $50,000 or $60,000, with no more than $250 from any individual donor. As with my first campaign for San Josť City Council, I refuse contributions from lobbyists. I continue to refuse special interest money, receiving instead strong support from community members who believe in my work. Those who donate to my campaign know this, and I have refused thousands of dollars in contributions that might undermine my reputation for integrity and independence.

If I have a bias in my decision-making, it tends toward those groups that are do not bankroll political campaigns, e.g., I am pro-neighborhood, pro-environment, and I give the highest priority to providing services to the families, seniors, and youth in our most struggling communities.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' responses are not edited or corrected by the League.

Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: May 12, 2010 21:39
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