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Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo taking on a new challenge

Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo taking on a new challenge

No, Sam Liccardo won’t be aiming to unseat Rep. Zoe Lofgren in 2024, but the former San Jose mayor has lined up a new job.

Liccardo will join San Francisco-based Ground Floor Public Affairs as its senior advisor and counsel for California civic initiatives. In the role, Liccardo says he will continue to work on many of the issues he was passionate about while on the San Jose City Council as a councilmember and mayor for 16 years: homelessness and affordable housing, food insecurity, education and energy costs.

“As mayor, you’re often dealing with the crisis of the moment — sometimes that’s 17 all at once,” Liccardo said in an interview. “This is an opportunity to work proactively on projects.”

At Ground Floor, Liccardo said his job will involve working on policy strategy and public outreach as well as having conversations with a range of business, nonprofit and community leaders around the Bay Area about those issues and doing a lot of research — which appeals to his policy wonk side. Liccardo says his job won’t involve lobbying, and he doesn’t plan to register as a lobbyist.

“We’re most successful when we’re able to bring nonprofits and private sector companies together to really tackle issues,” Liccardo said. “Ground Floor has been doing that for many years.”

Ground Floor was founded in 2007 by Alex Tourk, who previously worked in government for 15 years, including in the administrations of San Francisco Mayors Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom. Tourk said Liccardo’s expertise, leadership skills and relationships will grow the firm’s vision for their clients and the Bay Area.

“We share a commitment to cross-sector collaboration to solve the challenges facing our region and state,” he said. “At Ground Floor we always say, a win for a client is a win for the community, and we believe it. Having Sam on board will help us execute that guiding principle.”

While Ground Floor’s client list leans heavily on San Francisco and San Mateo County companies and public agencies, Liccardo says he’ll keep living in San Jose and will continue teaching at Stanford’s law school. He’s also made no secret about his ambition to run for Congress, and speculation was raised this February when he polled voters on his popularity and called Lofgren to ask if she was planning to run for re-election. She confirmed she was. And while he’s not running for office this time around, Liccardo said he’s not ruling out anything for the future.

CELEBRATING INDEPENDENCE: Expect a big crowd at San Jose City Hall Plaza on Friday for Fiestas Patrias, the annual celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day. The festivities, which are free and open to the public, get started at 4 p.m. with a flag-raising, lowriders, live music and dance performances and plenty of food trucks. And whether you’re planning to celebrate or not, it’s good to note that Santa Clara Street will be closed to traffic from Fourth to Sixth streets in front of City Hall starting around 11 a.m.

Another celebration will take place Saturday, the actual date of Mexico’s independence, at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in East San Jose. That’s the annual Chile, Mole, Pozole! community festival, which runs from 1 to 5 p.m. and is filled with Mexican food, salsa tasting, mariachis and other live music. Tickets are available at the door for $10 for adults, $5 for youth and free for kids 6 and younger. Get more information at www.schoolofartsandculture.org.

DOG-FACED ACTING: TheatreWorks Silicon Valley is prepping its new show, the West Coast premiere of “Mrs. Christie,” but still has a major part to cast: Peter, the dog of famed mystery writer Agatha Christie. TheatreWorks Artistic Director Giovanna Sardelli, who is directing the play, says that while Peter was a wirehaired terrier in real life, the company is looking for a well-behaved, well-trained dog of any size or breed to play the pooch.

Pet owners can submit their potential stage star for consideration by contacting Jeffrey Lo, TheatreWorks’ associate producer of casting and literary management, at jlo@theatreworks.org with photos, a brief description of any stage experience or why they think their pup would be perfect for the part. Make contact before the deadline of 5 p.m. Sept. 22, or you’ll be in the doghouse for sure. Maybe TheatreWorks should consider sending a casting director out to Bark in the Park in San Jose this Saturday, where there will no doubt be several — maybe several hundred — potential contenders.

“Mrs. Christie,” which explores the legendary author’s mysterious 1926 disappearance, opens Oct. 4 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts and runs through Oct. 29. Head to theatreworks.org for more details.