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SAN JOSE � Samuel “Sam” Liccardo, the youngest member of a well-regarded family of South Bay lawyers, plans to take a leave of absence from the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office next month to run for the San Jose City Council. “It’s not a secret that the city needs new leaders and fresh ideas,” said the 35-year-old deputy DA, explaining how he has watched the public’s confidence in city politics dwindle for the past 12 months. While City Hall has been living for months under the shadow of Mayor Ron Gonzales’ questionable $11.25 million trash deal, Liccardo says it’s time to put the focus back on other things, namely maintaining the city budget. “I don’t pretend to be riding in on a white horse,” Liccardo said. However, the prosecutor says he is ready and willing to instigate change. But he will likely face some stiff competition at the polls. Although the campaign season doesn’t officially begin until Feb. 10, seven people � including former state Assemblyman Manny Diaz � have already filed papers stating their intent to run for the District 3 seat being vacated by Cindy Chavez, who is running for mayor. Liccardo doesn’t seem worried, though. “I am really going into this with a mindset that I want this job and only this job,” he said. “It’s a really exciting time to be involved.” Those who know him say Liccardo � whose family name carries a lot of clout in the Silicon Valley legal community � will rise above the other candidates vying for the open council seat. “I think he’d make an excellent candidate,” said Richard Caputo, a former law partner of Liccardo’s father, Salvador Liccardo. “He has a very keen sense of community. I am certainly going to do my best to get his name out.” Salvador Liccardo, one of the founding partners of San Jose’s now-defunct Caputo, Liccardo, Rossi, Sturges & McNeil, made a name for himself in the ’60s and ’70s doing consumer litigation work. In 1969, he was the first lawyer in the country to successfully argue the theory that a birth control pill manufactured by Ortho Pharmaceutical could cause blindness. Salvador Liccardo now runs the Liccardo Law Firm, a small practice with offices on Big Basin Way in Saratoga. Oldest son Paul Liccardo works alongside his father, while daughter Laura Liccardo is a San Jose solo. Asked if he was pleased that three of his five children chose to enter the legal profession, Salvador Liccardo merely chuckled. “I didn’t encourage any of my five kids to get into law,” he said Wednesday. “In fact, I encouraged them against it.” He doesn’t seem to mind, though, that a few of them decided to ignore his advice. When Sam Liccardo decided to enroll in law school, “I only asked, ‘Is this really what you want to do?’ And he said, ‘Yes,’ and I said, ‘That’s great, I’m with you all the way.’” Sam Liccardo completed his undergraduate studies at Georgetown University and received his law degree and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard. After graduating from law school, Liccardo joined the U.S. attorney’s office in San Diego before becoming a Santa Clara deputy five years ago. As a prosecutor, he handles sexual assault and child molestation cases. His case work has earned high praise from his boss, Santa Clara County District Attorney George Kennedy, who is currently investigating San Jose’s trash scandal. “I think the City Council could benefit from more Harvard Law grads with Sam’s work ethic,” the retiring DA said this week. “He is one of the best deputies we’ve ever had. I’m just really high on the guy. I am lucky to have him.” Kennedy said he hasn’t decided who will take over Liccardo’s trial duties when he takes his unpaid leave of absence, beginning Feb. 1. But Liccardo may not be the only deputy leaving the office to get into politics. Deputy DA David Pandori is rumored to be eyeing a bid for San Jose mayor. When reached by phone this week, Pandori, a former city council member, said he was not ready to discuss his plans yet. Kennedy confirmed that Pandori approached him last year and told him he may run for mayor.

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