I hope this message finds you well. In recent weeks I’ve been focused on hiring my future office staff, who will serve the more than 100,000 residents of District 10. I’m thrilled to announce our incoming team today.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in building, running, and advising companies and nonprofits is that the quality of the team that comes together around an organization’s mission is the most crucial success factor. I’m extremely confident that we’ve assembled a team whose skills, experience, empathy, and desire to serve the public will enable us to do great things for you.
Here is your incoming District 10 team:
Chief of Staff — Matthew Quevedo
As Chief of Staff, Matthew will manage the office team, ensuring that we are focused on our highest priorities — from defeating COVID-19 and increasing public safety to reducing homelessness and ensuring fiscal responsibility — and achieving results for our constituents in these critical areas.
Growing up, Matthew’s home backed onto the big open field that we now know as Martial Cottle Park in the northern part of District 10. He attended local public schools, including Hacienda, Castillero, and Pioneer High School. He was a self-described “band kid,” playing jazz trumpet and the baritone horn.
For the past 4-years, Matthew has worked at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. As a Director, his focus was on transportation and housing policy along with engagement with the neighborhoods and communities that make up Silicon Valley. Through SVLG, Matthew was instrumental in helping secure billions of dollars for transportation and housing throughout the Bay Area. In this role, he also helped manage the CEO Airport Task Force, commuter shuttle bus policy, the Neighborhoods Leaders Council (NLC), housing project advocacy and built strong relationships with leaders in the public and private sectors. Matthew also has experience in the nonprofit sector through his work at Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley and has helped lead over 24 different local campaigns.
Matthew is especially passionate about neighborhood engagement. When he moved downtown after college, Matthew became President of the San José Downtown Residents Association. He currently volunteers as the VEP Community Association President, serving the neighborhood in which he grew up.
Matthew, his wife A’Dreana (who he met at his first job at Century 21 at Oakridge Mall), their son James, and new puppy Rollo recently moved back to downtown San Jose near the Japantown neighborhood. Finally, despite my best efforts to dissuade him, Matthew is famous locally for always wearing a scarf, even through our hot San José summers!
Legislative Director — Mason Fong
As Legislative Director, Mason will lead the team’s policy response to the challenges and opportunities facing our city. He’ll seek out solutions that prioritize making local government more transparent, efficient and accountable for delivering results, which are the core values on which I campaigned.
Mason brings a wealth of experiences in both governance and public policy to the District 10 team. In 2018, Mason was elected as the youngest and only third Asian-American Sunnyvale City Councilmember at the age of 27. His previous professional experience includes managing federal and state government affairs and public policy for the Silicon Valley Organization and serving in a variety of policy-oriented roles in the offices of Vice Mayor Chappie Jones, Congressman Ro Khanna, and Congressman Mike Honda.
Public service is part of Mason’s DNA. His mother served in former Governor Jerry Brown’s first administration as an Urban Land Advisor, his father served as a Legislative Aide to former San Francisco Supervisor Gordon Lau, and various other relatives have served in appointed and elected positions. As an added bonus, Mason is also a former District 10 resident!
In the little free time Mason has, he likes to take his husky, Wolfy, to local dog parks, play basketball, and watch comedy shows. You can read more about Mason here.
Policy Advisor & Community Relations Coordinator — Michele Dexter
As Policy Advisor and Community Relations Coordinator, Michele will continue the fantastic work she has done during her eight years of service in Councilmember Khamis’ office. Michele is known across the district for her pragmatic, hands-on approach to improving our community, ranging from organizing the community for volunteer events to bringing people together to plan for disaster response. In fact, across the thousands of doors I knocked on during the campaign, Michele’s name came up again and again!
Michele is the third generation in her family to be born in San José. She grew up in Cambrian Park and Willow Glen and has lived in Almaden since 1998. She has a family history of business, entrepreneurship, and community involvement that goes all the way back to her great-grandmother’s three hotel businesses in downtown San José.
Michele co-founded an IT services business in 2002 with her husband Rick and managed operations, while at the same time raising their two sons. Michele is CERT trained, has a ham radio license and makes the best lemon cookies in Almaden!
Digital Strategist — Elizabeth Barcelos
As Digital Strategist, Elizabeth will lead our efforts to use technology to inform and empower residents with the information they need to navigate City Hall, understand how their city government is performing, and advocate for their priorities and values. Her deep experience with digital communications is all the more valuable now, as COVID-19 has forced most of us to rely on digital tools to stay connected and engaged.
Elizabeth grew up in East San José, the oldest daughter of Portuguese immigrants. Her digital communications experience started with running SJSU Quidditch’s social media accounts. She later went on to work in content creation and journalism before spending the past two years as a social media manager at Gold and Hammes, Attorneys. There, Elizabeth spearheaded Student Debt Bomb, an advocacy project in collaboration with the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.
Most recently, Elizabeth was Social Media Director for Jake Tonkel’s District 6 City Council campaign, a hands-on lesson in learning to communicate with a district in spite of the limitations of a pandemic.
Elizabeth got married over Zoom this fall, so pandemic communications are a professional and personal interest. While she’s called a handful of San José neighborhoods home — including The Woods apartments here in District 10 — Elizabeth currently lives with her husband in the Rose Garden area of San José, where he grew up. She’s a big San José sports fan: the Sharks, the Earthquakes, and of course, the San José State Spartan Quidditch team are her top rooting interests.
Policy Analyst & Community Engagement Coordinator — Adrian Rafizadeh
As Policy Analyst and Community Engagement Coordinator, Adrian will wear multiple important hats, including conducting policy research and writing, building relationships with community groups and other stakeholders, overseeing our constituent feedback management system, and managing our office interns.
Adrian has lived in District 10 for 17 years and has long been passionate about serving his community. As a son of Iranian immigrants, he is a proud first-generation American. Adrian is a recent graduate of Leland High School and is deferring his admission to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania until September 2021 to work in the District 10 office. I’m grateful and fortunate that Adrian is choosing to spend his “gap year” serving our community in this way.
Adrian has worked in Councilmember Johnny Khamis’ office for the past two years, first as an intern, and later as a member of his staff. He has also served as the Vice-Chair of the District 10 Youth Advisory Council and continues to serve on the board of the Almaden Valley Community Association. Adrian has spent the past few months working diligently to ensure continuity and a smooth transition as Councilmember Khamis and his team pass the torch to our team.
In his limited free time, Adrian can be found listening to flamenco music, playing pick-up soccer with friends, and exploring the Bay Area (sometimes all at once!).
As our team comes into office January 1st and begins working to serve you, we would benefit from hearing your latest priorities, questions, and ideas. We’ve put together a short and confidential survey to gather 1) your high-level priorities for the City, and 2) specific ideas and issues relevant to your immediate neighborhood that our office may be able to help address. I’d appreciate it if you would take 5 minutes to complete our survey here:
Also, while I haven’t been writing as much as I did over the summer, I’d like to share some recent research I contributed to through my 2020 fellowship at SPUR, which is a local nonprofit focused on promoting good urban planning and governance. We conducted a series of interviews with small business owners, urban planners, developers, and other stakeholders who have an intimate understanding of how our downtown business ecosystem is responding to COVID. While the findings were jarring — particularly those related to small businesses closures — we also found a number of reasons to be optimistic about the future of our downtown.
Finally, my schedule will be a bit more constrained as we head into the new year, but I plan to continue using this blog to keep you informed about issues we’ve already touched on, such as housing, policing, education, and the budget, and others on which I’ve yet to publish my more detailed thinking, including homelessness, infrastructure maintenance, and performance management at City Hall. So stay tuned.
As always, it’s a pleasure to hear your feedback. I am looking forward to working with our new District 10 team to represent and serve you in the years ahead!
Councilmember-elect, San José District 10; email@example.com, 408–891–9708
Matt is Councilmember-elect for San José District 10, which includes Almaden Valley and Blossom Valley. Matt takes office January 1st, 2021 and uses this blog to share what he’s learning about a variety of local issues and his take on those issues. Matt and his wife, Silvia, are proud to be raising their two young children, Nina and Luke, in District 10. You can subscribe to Matt’s updates here: https://forms.gle/ycvcf3fbKSFU2JfA6