Meet Sam Liccardo
He represents San José’s Third District on the San José City Council, one of the most diverse communities in our city. Prior to winning election to City Council, Sam served in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor of sexual assault and child exploitation crimes and as a federal prosecutor.
Sam’s work in the community includes teaching government and political science at San José State University, co-founding an innovative program to mentor children, serving on the boards of several affordable housing organizations, and advocating for a successful countywide transit ballot measure in 2000 that is helping to bring BART to San José.
Sam and his wife, Jessica García-Kohl, live in downtown’s Northside, which boasts San José’s oldest neighborhood association and the city’s most diverse group of residents. Sam and Jessica live not far from where Sam’s grandfather founded and ran a neighborhood grocery store, which was a center of life and assistance for generations of long-time residents and new arrivals to San José.
After graduating from Bellarmine College Prep in San José, Sam attended Georgetown University. Sam graduated magna cum laude in 1991, and two years later, he enrolled at Harvard Law School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. After graduating with a law degree and a master’s degree in public policy, Sam returned to the Bay Area in 1996.
In addition to his roles on Council committees responsible for Transportation & Environment and Community & Economic Development, Sam has also served on a number of regional boards, including the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, the Association of Bay Area Governments, the Santa Clara County Cities Association and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
On the Council, Sam has focused on improving public safety, growing our economy and making city government more effective.
On Public Safety
Sam was the lead author of the new plan, signed by the Mayor, to hire 200 more police officers to help beef up neighborhood police patrols, reduce gang violence and improve response times. He led efforts to allow nuisance abatement suits and injunctions to target prostitution and drug dealing. He has brought a “tough love” approach to addressing homelessness, requiring personal responsibility and addressing petty crimes while fighting for more services and housing that can help individuals and families break the cycle of homelessness. He has worked with both city and other government agencies to target and reduce graffiti. He is proposing innovative solutions to help police and public safety respond faster to crimes, like a voluntary registry of private security cameras so police can find crucial evidence faster. And he has aggressively used the city’s zoning authority to keep liquor stores, bail bonds businesses and medical marijuana dispensaries from clustering in areas that make those communities more dangerous.
On Growing our Economy
Sam is working to bring in new small businesses that help make our economy stronger and our streets safer. He has helped bring new housing and economic life downtown and has focused on generating the kind of high-wage jobs that help build our middle class. From bringing in free WiFi to cleaning streets, making public spaces more inviting and cutting red tape to make it easier to start and run a business – Sam has made creating high-wage jobs a top city priority. He has fought to bring a Major League baseball team downtown to spark economic growth. And he believes the next mayor must partner with principals, school boards, parents and teachers to support excellent educational opportunities for all students.
On Making Government More Responsible and Responsive
Sam worked to give neighbors more voice at City Hall and more power over how their tax dollars are spent with pioneering programs like Participatory Budgeting. He has used the city’s auditing power to find waste and improve performance of city partners. He joined with Mayor Reed and other council members in addressing the city’s long-term structural deficit. As Chair of the Board of the Valley Transportation Authority he worked to convert a structural $40 million deficit in VTA to a balanced budget in 2010 and the agency has now enjoyed several consecutive years of budgetary surpluses. He brought San José’s first open data platform, which makes government more accountable to the people and spurs innovation. A vocal advocate for responsible budgeting, Sam was appointed to the City’s pension board by Mayor Reed in 2009 to stem the fiscal bleeding. Sam led the call to halt financial mismanagement at the Redevelopment Agency, reform Team San José, and to end wasteful public subsidies on failed incubators.
On Better Transportation
In his regional leadership roles with the VTA and MTC, Sam successfully advocated for the BART extension to San José, pushed for implementation of an innovative bus-rapid transit system, both now under construction. Sam also led a 2010 measure to improve funding for street repair and maintenance. He led the launch of ZipCar and bike sharing, and efforts to expand trails and bike lanes.
On Smart Environmental Policies
Sam successfully led a citywide task force to revise the General Plan to halt sprawling development in hillsides and open space. Sam spearheaded an innovative program to employ homeless residents to clean the creeks in which they formerly lived, in exchange for housing. Sam also led efforts to ban polystyrene and single-use bags.
On Building Partnerships to Improve Schools
Sam believes that one of the best ways to improve our economy, increase safety and enhance our quality of life is to work in partnership with parents and educators to improve our public schools. Sam is currently organizing to build support – and solicit community input – to lengthen the school day in San José schools where parents, teachers and principals agree it makes sense – so kids have more time for computer skills, supervised homework and other vital learning skills. In 2011, Sam worked with Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino to launch “1,000 Hearts for 1,000 Minds” to work to close the achievement gap in elementary school math, science, and reading performance by boosting adult tutoring of struggling public school students. Within a year, it engaged hundreds of adult volunteers.
Sam’s campaign for Mayor of San José is reaching out to every community and it has already won the support of three former mayors and a growing and diverse group of elected officials and neighborhood and community leaders, including Susan Hammer, former Mayor of San José, Tom McEnery, former Mayor of San José, Ron James , former Mayor of San José, Larry Stone, Santa Clara County Assessor, Jeff Rosen , Santa Clara County District Attorney, George Kennedy, former Santa Clara District Attorney , Dianne McKenna , former Santa Clara County Supervisor, Blanca Alvarado , former Santa Clara County Supervisor, Vice Mayor Judy Chirco , former Vice Mayor of San José, Frank Fiscalini , former Vice Mayor of San José, Shirley Lewis, former Vice Mayor of San José, Nanci Ianni , former San José Councilmember, Trixie Johnson, former Vice Mayor of San José, Margie Matthews , former San José Councilmember, David Pandori, former San José Councilmember, Judy Stabile , former San José Councilmember, Joseph Di Salvo, Santa Clara County Board of Education Member, Pam Foley, San José Unified School Board Member and Rich Garcia, San José Unified School Board Member, David Chiu, President, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Margaret Abe-Koga, Councilmember, Former Mayor City of Mountain View, Blanca Alvarado, former Supervisor, County of Santa Clara.
See more people who have endorsed Sam – and add your name to the list – here.