She may not have officially announced her candidacy yet, but Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez is already polling well in the race for San Jose’s next mayor.
A new poll commissioned by the San Jose Police Officers’ Association shows Chavez as an early front runner in San Jose’s 2022 mayoral race, though many voters still remain undecided. The primary election to replace Mayor Sam Liccardo, who will be termed out, will take place in June 2022.
Colorado-based research firm New Bridge Strategy interviewed 400 likely San Jose voters between June 28 and July 1, asking them about who of four potential candidates they’d like to see become the city’s next mayor.
Those candidates included San Jose councilmembers Raul Peralez and Dev Davis, who both announced their candidacy in April, as well as Chavez and San Jose councilmember Matt Mahan, both of whom are expected to run but have not yet made any official announcements.
A committee called “Chavez for Mayor 2022; Cindy” has registered with the California Secretary of State in spite of Chavez’s hesitancy to confirm her candidacy publicly. A phone number listed under the committee belongs to the Sacramento-based firm Deane & Company, which provides professional political reporting and campaign treasurer services, according to its website.
Results from the poll concluded that Chavez currently maintains the highest favorable rating from voters with 33%. She was followed by Peralez with a favorable rating of 18%, Davis with 14% and Mahan with 13%. Support for Chavez was driven largely by Democrats and women ages 45 and older, according to the results.
When asked who they would vote for if the election was held on the day of their interviews, 23% of those polled said Chavez, while 7% indicated Peralez, 5% for Mahan and 4% for Davis. Nearly three in five — of 59% — of likely voters who were polled said they were undecided.
Peralez’s campaign consultant Maggie Muir, who has also managed the campaigns of San Francisco Mayor London Breed and state senator Scott Weiner, said Thursday that the poll “clearly shows” that nine months before the election “this race is wide open.”
“Councilmember Peralez looks forward to talking with voters about what’s working in San Jose and what’s clearly not so that we can emerge from this pandemic stronger and more resilient than before,” Muir wrote in a statement.
Lori Weigel, principal at New Bridge Strategy, echoed a similar sentiment that it was still very early in the campaign process but added that Chavez was “on the most solid footing” at this point.
“She’s definitely the most established of any potential candidate at this time, which really means the others have some work to do,” Weigel said.
Chavez, who has served on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors for the past eight years, has had the longest career of the four potential candidates in South Bay politics. Prior to her time on the board of supervisors, Chavez worked as the executive director of the South Bay Labor Council and Working Partnerships USA and was a San Jose councilwoman from 1998 to 2006, including serving two of those years as vice-mayor.
Pending her official announcement, this will be Chavez’s second time launching a campaign to become the city’s top elected official. In 2006, Chavez was overwhelmingly defeated by Chuck Reed, who served as the mayor of San Jose for eight years prior to Liccardo.
Chavez did not return multiple requests for comment on Thursday, but earlier in the week she participated in a mayoral candidate forum held by the Silicon Valley Democratic Club.
During the forum, she spoke about some of the priorities she would have as mayor, including setting aside apartment units for domestic violence victims, building better relationships between police officers and the community and speeding up the production of permanent supportive affordable housing.
“I’m looking forward to a conversation because a mayor’s race is all about getting to know what is on people’s minds, what are their hopes, what are their aspirations, what is it that they most want to see most happen in the world and how can they help do it,” she said during the forum.
Chavez and Peralez have both been historically backed by the city’s labor groups and will likely be jockeying against one another for their endorsement in this race. A labor-backed candidate has not held the city’s mayor seat since 2006 when Ron Gonzales vacated the role.
Davis and Mahan, on the other hand, both have the support of the city’s business organizations. If Mahan makes his candidacy official, they too will be battling against one another for support from the city’s business faction.
When asked about the poll results, Davis said that she was not surprised, as Chavez was also ahead in some early polls ahead of the 2006 election, which she then lost.
“Things can change,” Davis said in a text. “There’s a long time between now and June.”
Mahan confirmed Thursday that he was still “very much considering” throwing his hat in the ring as well.
“I am having conversations with residents across the city about the solutions we need to end street homelessness, clean up our city and create a great place to live for all San Joseans,” he wrote in a text message.
The San Jose Police Officers’ Association, which commissioned the study, has not yet announced which candidate it will endorse, though a statement issued Thursday indicated it would likely be Chavez.
The POA has endorsed Chavez in most of her recent campaigns, including her 2006 run for mayor and her 2013 run for county supervisor. In San Jose’s 2014 mayoral race, the union endorsed labor leader Dave Cortese over Liccardo.
“As the POA begins to evaluate candidates for mayor, it appears that likely voters in San Jose are looking for steady leadership from an individual that can bring people together to solve problems and address our pressing needs,” POA president Sean Pritchard said in a statement. “and these poll results indicate that most voters support Supervisor Chavez to do those things.”