Matt Mahan, who grew up in Watsonville, began his tenure as San Jose’s mayor this week. —photo by Greg Ramar

SAN JOSE—Watsonville native Matt Mahan has been sworn in as mayor of Northern California’s largest city.

The Harvard-educated 40-year-old businessman turned politician grew up on the outskirts of Watsonville in the 1980s and ’90s, just off Amesti Road near Pinto Lake. His mother taught at a Catholic school in Salinas, and his father was a letter carrier in Pebble Beach.

“I remember waking up at the crack of dawn, and farm workers were already out there working,” Mahan said. “That always left an impression on me.”

Mahan, elected to the San Jose City Council in 2020, defeated Cindy Chavez, a Santa Clara County supervisor and former San Jose vice mayor. He ran a grassroots campaign emphasizing common sense solutions to crime and homelessness, and criticized a “culture of complacency” that he said characterized the political establishment.

Mahan’s mother, Susan, still lives here and her son regularly visits the Pajaro Valley. 

Mahan said he developed early awareness about politics by reading the Pajaronian. 

His parents encouraged Mahan to take the entrance exam to Bellarmine College Prep, an all-boys Jesuit school where he received a work-study scholarship working with the maintenance crews watering plants and landscaping.

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