|65th Mayor of San Jose|
January 1, 2015
|Preceded by||Chuck Reed|
April 16, 1970 |
Saratoga, California, U.S.
Samuel T. Liccardo (born April 16, 1970) is an American politician from California, currently serving as Mayor of San Jose, California. Before his election to the city council in 2006 he served as a criminal prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office. Liccardo was elected mayor in November 2014.
One of five children to Salvador and Laura Liccardo, Sam grew up in Saratoga, California and graduated from Bellarmine College Prep. Sam attended Georgetown University where, in 1991, he graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University, 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.
Sam is married to Jessica Garcia-Kohl (above), a non-profit education consultant. Sam and Jessica live east of Downtown in the same Northside neighborhood where Jessica spent her young years, 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.
Sam’s work in the community included 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 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.
Sam was twice elected to the San José City Council by residents living in the 3rd District, 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; and
- implementing innovative on-street bike infrastructure and car-sharing operations;
- among many other successful initiatives.
Taking office at the age of 44, Sam became one of the youngest mayors in the city’s modern history, but in his brief tenure, San Jose has already surged. In the early months of his term, Sam has worked to forge a tentative agreement for pension and retiree healthcare reform with public safety unions; launch a summer jobs program for hundreds of teens living in gang-impacted neighborhoods; expand innovative after-school programs for children from in low-income communities, announce new international flights to Beijing, secure an expanded presence of major tech companies in San Jose, and successfully conclude lengthy negotiations to keep the National Hockey League’s Sharks franchise in San Jose.
- Official website