top of page

Study on Local Governance of San Jose

We have a New Position!

Thanks to all who attended our meetings and worked so hard on this study.  On June 5, the membership at our annual business meeting approved a new position. It is titled "Governance Structure in San Jose" and begins on page 2.

The League of Women Voters periodically undertakes in-depth studies of issues, and we’ve recently embarked on a study about the local government structure in San Jose.


San Jose currently has a city council / city manager form of government, and it is looking at possible changes.  Any change to the form of government would require a voter-approved change to the City Charter.  In July 2020, the San Jose City Council authorized a Charter Review Commission to study such changes. This commission began its work in January 2021.  The meetings are held online and are open to the public.  See agendas, recordings of previous meetings, and meeting schedules


The League takes action on (advocates for or against) an issue only when we have a well-researched position. Our position on government structure in San Jose was last updated in 1986. In June 2020, the members of our League authorized a study to look at updating this position to reflect current community needs. 


We are undertaking this study about local government structure so that we will be able to consider any changes proposed by the Charter Review Commission with a full and thoughtful understanding of all options and impacts. Our committee is currently meeting and has a goal of presenting recommendations on whether our existing position needs to be modified and, if so, how, at the League's next annual meeting in June 2021.

  • What is the scope of our study?   We are reviewing our position on the San Jose City Charter sections related to form of government, representation and compensation.  The League's position was originally adopted in 1972 and most recently updated in 1986.

  • What is our current League position adopted in 1986?  
    It states:  LWVSJ/SC supports: The Council/Manager form of government with the administrative responsibility centered in the hands of a professional public administrator and legislative policy set by the entire council. 

  1. F​orm of Government: Support the Council/Manager form of government with the administrative responsibility centered in the hands of a professional public administrator and legislative policy set by the entire council. The Council directs the activities of the Manager and may hire and fire him at its discretion. Governmental powers should be separated between administrative and legislative functions. This system should provide the best possible combination of democracy and efficiency, checks and balances, accountability, and efficiency of administration.

  2. Representation: Support a Council with members elected by districts. Council seat representation should provide for representation of compact, geographical areas or neighborhoods, based on population as determined by decennial census.

    • ​​C​andidates must reside within the district and must be qualified registered voters in the city of San Jose. The Council seats should continue to expire as presently defined in the Charter. There should be mandatory redistricting after each federal decennial census with public hearings on proposed changes in district boundaries prior to adoption.

    • Support a Mayor who is elected "at large" and who presides over Council meetings and exerts leadership. The Mayor sits as a Council member and has voting privileges on the same basis as other Council members.

  3. C​ompensation: Support compensation for Council and Mayor that is adequate to encourage participation of all people who are qualified to run for City Council office.


See all positions we have on Government. See all Positions of the League of Women Voters of San Jose/Santa Clara. and higher levels of League organizations.

  • What is the San Jose City Charter and what does it say about governance?   
    The current San Jose City Charter has sections on Form of Government, the City Council, the Mayor, and the City Manager.  These are the sections of interest to our study.  

  • What is the timeline for this study?

    • From Fall 2020:  The committee accumulates and analyzes the background information and develops questions for the full membership.

    • April 24, 2021: League members participated in the Consensus Meeting and answered questions posed by the committee.  See background information.

    • June 5, 2021: Using member agreements, a consensus statement (new or updated position)  which was approved by the Board of Directors was presented to the Annual Meeting of the League membership.​  It was approved.  Our League can take action/advocacy when appropriate. 

    • See the new position titled "Governance Structure in San Jose" beginning on page 2 of our official Positions document.

  • Do you have a set of resources you are using to inform your work?

For additional information about the LWV SJ/SC Local Governance Study update, contact our study co-chairs Vicki Alexander and Virginia Holtz at

Return to League Study main page which includes a general description of the study process.

bottom of page