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Office of Mayor Sam Liccardo
200 East Santa Clara Street
San José, CA 95113
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Meet the Mayor
Upon his election, Sam Liccardo began serving as the 65th Mayor of San José in January of 2015.
Sam took office at the age of 44, becoming one of the youngest mayors in the City’s modern history. Yet, in his brief tenure, San Jose has surged.
During his first year in office, Sam forged a historic agreement with the City’s eleven public employee unions on a set of retirement reforms that will save taxpayers $3 billion over the next three decades. A long-time advocate for the homeless, Sam has initiated efforts to rehabilitate deteriorating motels, build microhousing, and expand an innovative “work-first” program to provide homeless individuals a path to self-sufficiency. In addition, Sam has renewed the City’s commitment to San Jose youth, creating a summer jobs program for hundreds of teens in gang-impacted neighborhoods, expanding library services and hours to engage thousands more kids in coding and online learning, and launching innovative after-school programs for hundreds of low-income children.
Furthermore, the economic initiatives that Sam has championed as Mayor and as Councilmember has reaped major benefits, including: the announcement of four new international flights at Mineta San Jose International Airport; a major expansion of tech companies in San Jose, including titans like Apple and Google and fast-scaling companies like Silver Spring Networks and Splunk; as well as the opening of a world-class soccer stadium for the San Jose Earthquakes.
On the City Council
Prior to becoming Mayor, Sam was twice elected to the San Jos
City Council by residents living in District 3, encompassing Downtown and its diverse surrounding neighborhoods. Over that time, Sam’s leadership became instrumental in:
revitalizing the Downtown by cutting red tape and fees to spur high-rise housing and the influx of dozens of new tech companies;
working with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to ensure passage of a measure to bring BART to San Jose (to open in 2017);
ensuring the successful development of the privately-financed, world-class Avaya Stadium;
boosting affordable housing by making San Jose the largest U.S. city with a citywide inclusionary policy;
supporting then-Mayor Reed’s efforts to reform unsustainable pension and retirement benefits;
protecting hillsides and open space from development through the creation of San Jose’s most environmentally visionary General Plan;
supporting the expansion of Downtown Streets Team, an innovative work-first program for homeless, into San Jose;
co-founding a tutoring program, “1,000 Hearts for 1,000 Minds,” with Carl Guardino to boost outcomes for low-income public school students;
serving as a founding board member of an innovative college preparatory school, Cristo Rey San José, for students from low-income families;
making San Jose the largest city in the nation to halt the distribution of both single-use plastic bags and polystyrene food packaging;
implementing innovative on-street bike infrastructure and car-sharing operations; and
many other successful initiatives.
Education and Prior Career
Sam graduated from Bellarmine College Prep in San José. Sam graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University in 1991, and subsequently enrolled in graduate studies at Harvard University. In 1996, Sam graduated from Harvard Law School with honors, and also earned a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, before returning to the Bay Area.
After working in a private law firm, Sam became a federal criminal prosecutor at the United States Attorney’s Office, and then handled dozens of felony trials in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. There, he primarily prosecuted sexual assault and child exploitation crimes.
Public Leadership Beyond City Hall
Sam has also served in several regional leadership roles during his years in office, as President of the Santa Clara County Cities Association, Chair of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and on the executive boards of the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Sam also taught political science to upper-division students at San José State University for several semesters.
Sam is a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum, and of the Aspen Institute’s Rodel Fellowship.
Family and Personal
Sam is married to Jessica Garcia-Kohl, a non-profit education consultant. Sam and Jessica live east of Downtown in the same Northside neighborhood where Jessica spent her young years and where Sam’s father was raised, and a dozen blocks from the neighborhood grocery store that Sam’s Sicilian grandparents operated decades ago. Sam’s maternal ancestors were among the first Mexican settlers in the Bay Area, and his maternal grandmother emigrated from Ireland.
One of five children to Salvador and Laura Liccardo, Sam grew up in the Santa Clara Valley. A lover of sports and the outdoors—a passion he developed growing up here—Sam competed in collegiate athletics as captain of the Heavyweight Crew during his years at Georgetown University, and was named an amateur “All-American’ triathlete by the U.S. Triathlon Association in 2005. He continues to run, swim, or bike whenever he can find the time, and can be caught some mornings commuting by bike to City Hall.
Mayor Liccardo's biography for speaking introductions.
200 E. Santa Clara St.
San José, CA 95113
408 535-3500 Main
408 294-9337 TTY
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