Cindy Chavez is a current member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and former Vice Mayor of San José. She lives Downtown with her husband Mike, son Brennan, dog Buddy, and cat Jackie.
Cindy Chavez was born on April 7, 1964, in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the oldest of three children of Reyes and Carmen Chavez. Her father was a carpenter and her mother worked as a teacher’s aide and taught Catechism.
The Chavez family moved to California when she was an infant, joining millions of others who were lured to the Golden State in the postwar era by economic opportunity, affordable housing, and excellent public schools. They settled in Fremont and Cindy attended Durham Elementary School, Horner Middle School, and Moreau Catholic High School, where she was student body president and homecoming queen.
From a very young age, Cindy’s parents instilled in her a commitment to service and to the community. Throughout her childhood, they would take in local families who were trying to save for a home of their own.
“We had everything from single people to whole families. I called it the Hotel Chavez growing up. My parents were the most caring, empathetic people. If anybody in the neighborhood needed help, they could come to our house. They could count on my parents,” Cindy said.
In the fall of 1982 Cindy moved to San José to attend San José State University, and she has never left. Her home in Naglee Park is less than a mile from Joe West Hall, the dormitory she lived in as a freshman. At SJSU, Professor Terry Christensen became a mentor and friend. She was a member of the Delta Gamma Sorority and graduated in 1987 as a political science major.
Cindy always knew she wanted to work in some type of public service where she could give back to the community and help make it a better place. In her 20s she worked as an organizer and later as a policy aide to then-County Supervisor Ron Gonzales before she re-joined the labor movement, working for the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council.
She married Mike Potter in September 1997. The two shared a love of community service. They met while working on Dianne Feinstein’s 1990 campaign for governor. Mike serves on the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Board of Directors and currently works for Santa Clara Valley Water District.
In 1997, Cindy decided to run for San José City Council after a bullet passed through her and Mike’s Downtown San Jose home. She was elected in 1998 and re-elected in 2002, serving as vice mayor during her final two years on the council. During her time in office San José was the safest big city in the nation. Her leadership led to the creation of Santa Clara County’s Children’s Health Initiative, making ours the first county in the nation to provide health coverage for every child. Cindy also launched the city’s Megan’s Law Task Force, doubled the amount of park space in her district, and spearheaded the creation of the city’s first skate park.
After being termed out of office, Cindy returned to the labor movement becoming Executive Officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council in 2009 and later Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA, a progressive policy think tank.
In 2013, she was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. She has been re-elected twice and will be termed out of office in 2024.
Cindy and Mike’s son Brennan was born in 2001 and graduated from Lincoln High School. He is a student at Hobart & William Smith College in upstate New York where he plays defensive line for the football team. Watching Brennan play sports is one of the activities Cindy enjoys most during her free time. She also enjoys spending time with Mike, their dog Buddy, and their cat Jacquie.