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San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan putting a twist on State of the City speech

When San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan gives his first State of the City address on Oct. 21, he plans to touch on the same themes he laid out in his inaugural speech in February — homelessness, blight and public safety — as well as economic investment, a fourth theme that he added in his budget message this spring.

There’s nothing surprising about that, but what is different is that Mahan wants the audience at San Jose City College that day to do more than just listen. He wants them to take action, too. There’ll be stations where people can sign up to be a graffiti guard and get equipment and training to keep their neighborhood clean, others might sign up to volunteer at a community kitchen or pick up hygiene kits to distribute to the homeless.

“This has been really core to my philosophy of government and how it should work at its best,” he said in an interview this week. “We will be building the State of the City around the idea of collective action.”

Mahan also will be putting that plan into action in the week leading up to the speech, taking part in a series of events in the San Jose community that highlight those themes.

That effort kicked off Saturday morning with a Neighborhoods Conference at Yerba Buena High School that Mahan hoped would bring together hundreds of neighborhood leaders from throughout the city to network and gain access to City Hall staff who can unlock resources for them. Mahan called on one of his former professors at Harvard, “Bowling Alone” author Robert Putnam to address the group via Zoom about civic engagement.

Coming up later in the week, the mayor’s team will volunteer at Martha’s Kitchen in San Jose, and Mahan will welcome a new crew at the San Jose Conservation Corps, participate in the groundbreaking for a new fire station on East Santa Clara Street and ride along with the team from Beautify SJ, an initiative to keep neighborhoods and parks clean.

“Government can feel very distant and abstract as we talk about things like billion-dollar budgets,” Mahan said. “It can be very disempowering, and our goal is to invite people in to take action and understand they’re an indispensable part of this democracy and this community.”

The State of the City address starts at 1 p.m. Oct. 21, and you can RSVP at qrco.de/StateOfTheCity.

HERSHEY SINGS, THEATREWORKS SCORES: Hershey Felder delivered quite a show for TheatreWorks Silicon Valley on Wednesday night, but this time he had some help from the audience. Patrons paid $45 to $1,000 each to raise their voices along with the famed pianist and performer for the one-night benefit, “Hershey Felder’s Great American Songbook Sing-Along,” and raised more than $140,000.  TheatreWorks has now raised more than $2.5 million toward its goal of $3 million, which needs to be reached by the end of November to complete the current season.

However, Felder got even bigger cheers when he announced he’ll be returning to TheatreWorks next year, bringing his solo show, “Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone” for a limited engagement in 2024. TheatreWorks Executive Director Debbie Chinn says she’s confident that between ticket sales for those shows, along with more public donations, the company will be able to close the fundraising gap. Tickets will go on sale soon at www.theatreworks.org.

Performer Hershey Felder, left, chats with fan Nancy Greenfeld at a reception following “Hershey Felder’s Great American Songbook Sing-A-Long,” a benefit for TheatreWorks Silicon Valley at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo courtesy TheatreWorks) 

Amazingly, all that good news almost didn’t happen because while Felder was on his way to LAX on Wednesday, he got word the terminal his flight was leaving from had been closed for unspecified reasons. As he was figuring out how long it would take to drive from Southern California to Mountain View, the terminal reopened and he made his flight on time. That was good fortune for the audience, including one particular audience member: Nancy Greenfeld, who approached Felder during the post-show reception to let him know it was the best show she’s seen in her entire life. And that’s saying something because she’s 99.

TAKEOVER BID: History San Jose learned a great lesson Thursday night — when you honor a guy who sells beer for a living, a lot of people will show up to your event. That was certainly the case for the Valley of Heart’s Delight fundraising dinner honoring Gordon Biersch co-founder and brewer extraordinaire Dan Gordon. The dinner drew an overflow crowd of 200 people to History Park. It was a generous crowd, too, with the event benefitting field trips for schools in low-income neighborhoods.

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Emcee Lissa Kreisler auctioned off a private tour for 10 people of the Gordon Biersch Brewery in San Jose’s Japantown for $4,000, but former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, PG&E executive Teresa Alvarado and Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley CEO Steve Wymer thought the crowd could do more.

With Gordon’s and Kreissler’s blessings, the trio hijacked the stage and sold two more tours at $4,000 each. Two of the three were purchased by Patrick Hammon, an attorney at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and a History San Jose board member, who must have a lot of friends who like beer. Or at least he will now.

Standing in front of the electric light tower at History Park, Gordon Biersch co-founder Dan Gordon speaks at the Valley of Heart’s Delight dinner, the History San Jose fundraiser where he was honored Oct. 12, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group) 

RUNWAY SUCCESS: The Catala Club is bringing back its in-person fashion show and luncheon to raise money for Santa Clara University undergraduate scholarships for the first time since 2019. And if you didn’t already get a seat for the Oct. 20 event at the Santa Clara Marriott, you’re unfashionably late because it’s already sold out. Good job by the club members in ensuring the success of the event, which is being chaired by Debbie McBride, Mary Blaser and Sandra McMahan.



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San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan putting a twist on State of the City speech

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