Sam Liccardo is running for Congress to focus Washington on the big issues like homelessness, crime, and the punishing cost of living. To a Congress that has been called the least productive in decades, Liccardo says “Let’s Get it Done!” on the problems that matter most to the Peninsula, Silicon Valley, and the Coastside.
As Mayor of San José, the Bay Area’s largest city, Liccardo’s innovative efforts to confront homelessness include pioneering the conversion of motels to housing in 2016, four years prior to California adopting it as a statewide model. He piloted the development of quick-build prefabricated housing communities that were constructed at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional apartments, helping thousands come off the streets. Liccardo also launched a successful program that employs unhoused residents cleaning the city in exchange for housing and pay (“San José Bridge”). Though San José long struggled with growing homelessness, it became one of the very few California cities to reduce street homelessness in Liccardo’s final year in office, 2022.
When Liccardo came into office in 2015, San José’s police department had lost several hundred officers. A former criminal prosecutor, Liccardo helped rebuild the department through the passage of two ballot measures that added more than 200 officers in four years, and by expanding a program for unarmed staff to respond to routine calls for service. By the year he left office, San José had the lowest homicide rate of any major U.S. city.
Liccardo led a regional effort to boost the minimum wage, making San José’s wage ($17.55 per hour) among the very highest in the nation. To protect consumers he has taken on PG&E’s massive rate hikes and fought against wasteful spending at the local water utility district. He emphasized investments in preparing San José’s next generation for the jobs of the future helping more than 5,000 East San José teens obtain their first jobs (“San José Works”), expanding after-school and summer learning for children living in San José’s least affluent neighborhoods (“San José Learns”), employing hundreds of low-income young adults to respond to impacts of the pandemic and climate change (“Resilience Corps”), and providing coding classes to thousands of youths through the libraries (“Coding 5K”).
In his two terms, San José enjoyed the greatest expansion of tech growth in its history, with new or expanded campuses of leading employers such as Google, Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Aruba, Broadcom, Microsoft, Nio, Verizon, Western Digital, Micron, Okta, Roku, Splunk, Supermicro, and Zoom. He pushed for solutions to reduce barriers to job growth and transit-oriented housing development, such as reducing fees and planning restrictions. And Liccardo focused on leveraging technology to expand opportunity for residents long excluded from the Valley’s growth by expanding free broadband to 250,000 East San José residents (“San José Access”) and launching an innovative digital micro-scholarship platform for 1,700 first-generation students (“San José Aspires”).
Under Liccardo, San José resolved chronic deficits, reduced city debt, and improved its credit rating, particularly through a 2016 ballot measure that saves taxpayers $3 billion over three decades. He took on the gun lobby and crafted a first-in-the-nation requirement for gun owners to pay annual fees to support violence-prevention programs and to purchase liability insurance. He launched San José Clean Energy for the city’s one million residents which now procures 95% of its electricity from renewable and GHG-free sources. Liccardo also led a series of successful ballot measures to preserve open space and hillsides, rebuild city streets and other infrastructure, and provide hundreds of millions in funding for housing affordable to vital workers such as teachers, nurses, firefighters, and police officers. Liccardo led efforts to expand BART and was part of the regional coalition that supported the successful efforts to electrify Caltrain.
Liccardo led the California Big City Mayors coalition for two years, spearheading efforts by cities to secure unprecedented statewide funding for more rapid homelessness and pandemic response. Even as a council member representing San José’s Downtown district, Liccardo took on leadership roles regionally, serving as the President of the Santa Clara County Cities Association, as the Chairperson of the Valley Transportation Authority (twice), and on the board of directors of both the Association of Bay Area Governments and Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
In the year since he completed his two terms serving San José’s one million residents as mayor, Liccardo has taught several classes at Stanford University focusing on urban solutions to homelessness, violent crime, and climate change. He also worked with a diverse group of stakeholders to launch and lead the “FAIR California” coalition, battling PG&E rate hikes and pushing for greater accountability of spending ratepayer money.
Prior to his service in elected office, Liccardo prosecuted felony crimes of sexual assault and child exploitation in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, and also served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of California. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Georgetown University. His published works have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and other national publications. He and his wife, Jessica García-Kohl, live in San José.