In the three years since Mayor Sam Liccardo took office in 2015, Sam has led efforts to:
- forge a historic pension reform agreement with 11 unions that will save taxpayers $3 billion over the next three decades, including more than $43 million this year;
- launch “San José Works,” providing summer and year-round jobs to more than 2,000 teenagers living in gang-impacted neighborhoods;
- find more innovative ways to reduce homelessness—from rehabilitating decaying motels, to expanding work-first programs, to building “tiny home” villages—while housing more than 1,000 homeless veterans;
- make Mineta San José International the fastest-growing major airport in the nation for two consecutive years, with seven new international flights and more than 30 new domestic flights;
- create after-school learning programs (“San Jose Learns”) and coding and computer science programs (“5K Coding Challenge”) for thousands of children in low-income families, while expanding library services and hours in every neighborhood;
- facilitate the most successful period of tech expansion in San José’s history, by:
- landing major investments from corporate titans like Amazon, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Micron, and Microsoft;
- luring fast-growing innovators such as Okta, Splunk, SuperMicro, and WeWork, and
- enabling expansions of industry leaders like Adobe, Broadcom, Western Digital, and Zoom.
- concurrently lift the minimum wage among a half-dozen Silicon Valley cities, to $15 per hour by 2019;
- rebuild the San Jose Police Department, adding more than 200 officers in 20 months, while implementing data and technology—ranging from body-worn cameras to data analytics—to improve policing;
- make San José the nation's largest city to implement its own "Community Choice Energy" program, enabling residents and businesses to choose renewable energy sources for their electric power at cost-competitive rates starting in 2019;
- spark Downtown's revitalization, using fee reductions and accelerated permit approvals to fill empty storefronts with restaurants and amenities, expand co-working space, build thousands of high-rise apartments, invigorate public spaces, and lure key tech employers;
- create a “San Jose College Promise” with San Jose City, Evergreen, and West Valley Colleges to eliminate the cost of tuition, fees, and books for 1,600 low-income students;
- pass three voter-approved ballot measures that will bring Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to San Jose in 2019, expand light rail in East San Jose, and recast Downtown’s Diridon Station into the region’s “Grand Central Station”;
- launch “#BeautifySJ,” to enable residents to reclaim their city from blight, using such new programs as free junk pickup service, a MySanJose smartphone app to report blight, neighborhood beautification grants, and enhanced response to dumping and abandoned cars;
- protect open space and undeveloped hillside from sprawling development, with the help of an environmental coalition that was outspent on its ballot measure by $6 million;
- craft San Jose’s “Smart City Vision,” forging partnerships with the tech community to leverage technology and data to improve safety and services, with the ambition of making San José the most innovative city in America.
In 2018, Sam was re-elected to a second term, with 76% of the vote.
In Sam’s prior public service, he prosecuted a range of felony cases as a federal and local criminal prosecutor, from sexual assault and child exploitation to international narcotrafficking. In 2006, voters elected Sam to the first of his two terms on the City Council, where he led efforts to revitalize its downtown, preserve San José’s hillsides and open space, boost funding for affordable housing, and open a world-class soccer stadium for the San José Earthquakes. He served as a founding board member of Cristo Rey San Jose High School, an innovative Jesuit school that propels students from low-income immigrant families to college and beyond.
Sam serves on a number of boards, including the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Valley Transit Authority (twice as Chairperson), and serves as co-chair for Joint Venture Silicon Valley. He is a senior fellow for the American Leadership Forum-Silicon Valley, and is a Rodel Fellow at the Aspen Institute.
Sam graduated from San José’s Bellarmine College Prep and from Georgetown University, where he was captain of the heavyweight Crew. He received a law degree from Harvard Law School, and a master’s degree from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Sam and his wife, Jessica, live in the Northside neighborhood, east of Downtown, within blocks of Jessica’s childhood home, where Sam’s father also grew up, and where Sam’s grandparents operated a neighborhood grocery store. Sam descended from Sicilian and Irish immigrants, as well as from the first Mexican settlers in the Bay Area.