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South Bay Labor Council, Executive Officer Working Partnerships USA, Executive Director
April 7, 1964 |
Alamogordo, New Mexico
Cindy Chavez (born April 7, 1964) is an organized labor executive and American politician who served as vice mayor of San Jose, California. While a member of the San Jose City Council, she represented Council District Three (which includes the downtown area). Following an unsuccessful run for mayor of San Jose, Chavez worked as a consultant, and then returned to the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, where she served as political director prior to her election to city council, as Executive Officer.
- Chavez attended Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward.
- She graduated in 1987 with a B.A. in Political Science from San Jose State University.
Tenure on the City Council
Chavez was first elected to the council in 1998 and re-elected in 2002. In 2005, she was chosen by San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales and confirmed by the council to serve as Vice Mayor. As a former Downtown District Three Council Representative, Chavez chaired the Rules Committee and served on the Downtown Parking Board, Guadalupe River Park Task Force, Police and Fire Retirement Board, San Jose Beautiful and the SJ/SC Treatment Plant Advisory Committee. Additionally, she served on local and regional bodies, including the Valley Transportation Authority as vice-chair, VTA Policy Advisory Board and Nanotechnology Infrastructure and Assets Subcommittee. Prior to her election to the City Council, Chavez had served as the staff director of labor-aligned Working Partnerships USA and as the Director of Education and Outreach for the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council. She also served for three years as budget and policy aide to then Supervisor Ron Gonzales.
Campaign for Mayor
In 2006 Chavez ran for mayor in a field of ten candidates hoping to succeed termed-out Ron Gonzales. In the mayoral primary held on June 6, 2006, in a crowded field of ten candidates, Chavez qualified for the two-person primary against Chuck Reed.
In the run-off voting held on November 7, 2006, Chavez, who conceded the race just before midnight, lost to Reed by the largest margin by a non-incumbent in 24 years. Final tallies show Reed garnered 117,394 votes to Chavez's 80,720 (in percentage terms 59.26% to 40.74%).
During the early stages of the campaign Chavez out-raised her opponents and was the frontrunner in some polls. Chavez also secured many high profile endorsements, including the Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, the Silicon Valley Young Democrats, Congressman Mike Honda and former San Jose mayor Susan Hammer, former US Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and former US President Bill Clinton. However, after she came in second place in the primary voting held on June 6, 2006; Ms. Chavez was never able to regain her early lead and her opponent, Chuck Reed, was leading in all the major polls going into the run-off election.
Issues in the Primary campaign
During the campaign, the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce was criticized by Chavez supporters for sending a mailer exposing the back room deals Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez made and the lack of public notice for the $4 million San Jose Grand Prix subsidy. The Chamber was found to have violated city law in so doing. Further court battles led to a federal court ruling that the city law violated free speech rights and the city was ordered to pay the Chamber's legal costs.
Career After San Jose City Council
After her time on the City Council, Chavez considered running for county supervisor but decided not to run for the seat that George Shirakawa Jr. was subsequently elected to. Chavez founded and was principal of California Leadership Services, offering clients comprehensive and diversified consulting services issues such as government relations, organizational development and nonprofit management. Chavez received a $79,000 contract with the East Side Union High School District, of which Shirakawa was a board member, to set up a foundation. However, Chavez never filed articles of incorporation or filled the board seats and news media speculated that the contract given to Chavez to discourage her from running against Shirakawa. The foundation was subsequently decertified by the Internal Revenue Service. 
Chavez subsequently became the Executive Officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council in March 2009. The South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council represents ninety unions and over 100,000 union members in Santa Clara and San Benito counties. The Labor Council's stated objective is to advance candidates, causes, and policies that benefit working families. It achieves this objective with a combination of activities, including community organizing, leadership training, campaigning, and issues advocacy. The Labor Council is proud to run the largest, most sophisticated, grassroots political campaign operation in the South San Francisco Bay area.
Chavez is also Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA, a labor-aligned advocacy group funded by foundations and contracts with the County of Santa Clara.  Among its signature accomplishments are pioneering the Children’s Health Initiative, making Santa Clara County the first in the nation to provide health coverage to every child and securing passage of the San Jose Living Wage ordinance.
She worked as an instructor of local civics at her alma mater San José State University. When the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office began an investigation into Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr.’s misuse of county funds, Chavez resigned her position with the South Bay Labor Council while staying on as CEO of Working Partnerships USA. After Shirakawa resigned and pleaded guilty to five felonies and seven misdemeanors, Chavez announced that she would run for the District 2 seat, with her ballot description reading “Mother/Non-Profit Director.”
In early 2013, Chavez was elected as the Vice-Chair of the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee.
On June 4, 2013 she qualified for the runoff and faces Teresa Alvarado in the July 2013 special election.
On August 20, 2013 she was sworn-in as Santa Clara County's District 2 Supervisor.
She lives with her husband, Mike Potter, and their son Brennan Chavez-Potter (b. 2001) in San Jose.
- Chavez Gets Nod from S.J. FilAms by Lance Cardozo Dwyer Philippine News May 17, 2006
- Chamber mailer creating backlash by Timothy Roberts Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal May 26, 2006
- Chamber rebuked over Anti-Chavez Mailers by John Woolfolk San Jose Mercury News
- Vote on donor limits delayed by John Woolfolk Mercury News Oct 4, 2006
- Josh Koehn, East Side Union High School District Education Foundation Decertified by IRS San Jose Inside, January 30, 2013
- Pulcrano, Dan,  Chavez Paid 2012 Political Campaign Staff With Santa Clara County Funds, April 10, 2013