A Santa Clara councilmember is looking to shake up the status quo by running for mayor.
Anthony Becker, who represents District 6, plans to face off against six-year incumbent Mayor Lisa Gillmor in November if she seeks reelection. Becker, who says Gillmor has been in power for far too long, announced his candidacy in front of City Hall on Monday.
“Current leadership has been in office since 1992, when I was six years old. Now I am 37 years old,” Becker told San José Spotlight. “I think that is a sign that there’s a major need for change in the city. There’s a lot of failed leadership and a lot of failed policies.”
Gillmor, a real estate broker, previously served as a councilmember from 1992-2000 and again from 2012-2016. In 2016, the City Council appointed her mayor after former Mayor Jamie Matthews resigned. Gillmor later won the mayoral election in 2018.
Gillmor did not respond to requests for comment.
Becker, who has served on the council since 2020, ran against Gillmor in 2018. They have had a contentious relationship during their time on the council. Gillmor allegedly even blocked him on Facebook.
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“We need a mayor who serves the community needs, not personal agendas,” Becker said. “We cannot continue to treat taxpayer money as a frivolous and unending resource for political vendettas and personal ambition.”
He pointed to Gillmor’s attempts to stop Santa Clara from implementing six City Council districts in 2017-2018. When Santa Clara was hit with a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit for having an allegedly racist or unequal voting system about a decade ago, a judge ultimately decided the city should expand to six council districts. Gillmor and other councilmembers appealed the decision but eventually settled.
“She was basically fighting voting rights and that right there is kind of scary to think about,” Becker said, noting the city spent $6 million to appeal the judge’s decision. “When we moved to six districts, we elected our first minority councilmember, Raj Chahal, in 2018.”
Wes Mukoyama, one of the plaintiffs in the voting rights lawsuit, supports Becker’s run for mayor.
“I’ll be frank, we need to get Mayor Lisa Gillmor out of office and we need to prevent her from getting her cohorts back in,” he said. “we will try to do our best to make (Becker) the next mayor because he’s all inclusive.”
Wes Mukoyama, one of the plaintiffs of the voting rights lawsuit against Santa Clara, spoke in support of Becker’s mayoral run. Photo by Jana Kadah.
But former Councilmember Teresa O’Neill, who endorsed Gillmor in 2018, said she will “vigorously support” the incumbent’s reelection. She highlighted Gillmor’s work in building the budget reserves to “unprecedented levels” of over $80 million and reinvestment in the city’s infrastructure—especially parks.
“It is imperative for Santa Clara’s future that our residents elect Mayor Gillmor to four more years,” O’Neill told San José Spotlight. “Lisa always puts the needs of the people of Santa Clara first, above any special interest groups. We need her integrity, intelligence, experience and dedication as our mayor while we continue to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.”
O’Neill, who served on the City Council from 2012-2020, also pointed to Gillmor’s leadership during the pandemic.
“First and foremost in her thinking was helping residents with food, keeping their utilities on, making sure they didn’t lose their housing, and keeping the lights on and employees paid at our small businesses,” O’Neill said. “Because of Lisa’s leadership, Santa Clara had the reserves and capability to do all that.”
Another major concern for Becker is the city’s growing deficit, which is now at $27 million. He says his top three priorities are reversing the deficit, adding more affordable homes and combating homelessness. He is endorsed by Councilmembers Chahal, Karen Hardy, Suds Jain and Assemblymember Alex Lee.
“I feel the ship is turning around in a good way and that we’re on an upward trajectory,” Hardy said. “I’d love to see that occur for the whole city and continue on with that. Thank you so much Anthony for being willing to run for mayor of Santa Clara.”
Chahal told San José Spotlight Becker believes in working together to find solutions.
“He will bring a voice of change and representation for our younger generation as mayor,” Chahal said. “In a nutshell, Becker is running to provide efficient, transparent and collaborative leadership to Santa Clara.”
Contact Jana Kadah at email@example.com or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.
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