If any one thing can be pointed to as a turning point that put new Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker on the road to the Council seat he now occupies, it is words his father spoke to him many years ago
He was a high school senior he was facing an academic decathlon and his teammates didn’t like the speech that Becker had planned. It was ‘too wordy,’ they said, ‘too personal.’
“But my father told me, ‘don’t change anything,’” Becker said. “‘It’s coming from your heart. If you change it, it’s not you.’
“I thought, I have no chance,” he continued. “No one believed I had the chance to win. But I put my heart in it and I won. I prevailed in spite of the people who put me down.”
Since then he has kept his father’s words clearly in sight.
Born at the old Kaiser Permanente hospital, Becker attended Pomeroy Elementary School, where a substitute teacher planted the seeds of Becker’s interest in politics.
That substitute teacher was former Santa Clara Councilmember and longtime community leader Jim Ash.
“I was fascinated by what he did on the City Council,” Becker said. That experience began Becker’s personal education in political science.
Silicon Valley’s housing crisis is a lived experience for Becker, who is one of the very few renters to ever sit on the Council.
Although his grandparents lived in Santa Clara, his parents couldn’t afford to buy a house here and moved to Los Banos. For 20 years, Becker said, they commuted hours daily to work in Silicon Valley — something he believes adversely affected his father’s health.
He continued to spend summers in Santa Clara with his grandmother, and continued to be interested in Santa Clara politics as he saw a new generation taking their place on Council in the 1990s.
Becker moved back to Santa Clara in 2003 to attend college and study filmmaking, and has lived in the City ever since. He has done video production for CreateTV and currently works as a content moderator for a major social media platform.
Becker worked fulltime while he attended Mission College, De Anza College and ultimately San Jose State, where he graduated.
He attended his first Council meeting in 2008, where he met Jamie McLeod.
“She told me” he said, “‘I’m glad you came to the Council meeting. Because we don’t get too many young people.’ I looked at her picture on the wall and thought, ‘If Jamie can do it, I can do it, it’s possible.’”
Becker took his first step in politics in 2016, when he applied for Lisa Gillmor’s seat after she was appointed Mayor, and ran later that year for City Council. He went on to an appointment on the Planning Commission and made a long shot run for Mayor in 2018.
“I knew I didn’t have much chance of winning. It’s like sacrificing your queen in chess, you know it’s a gamble. But getting 25 percent when my opponent is so well known in the City is an achievement in itself.”
He took the lessons he learned from those two campaigns and applied them to his winning campaign this year.
“One of the things I learned was the importance of walking [precincts],” he said. “One person I met this year told me, ‘You got my vote — you came to the door and asked for my vote. You made the effort.’
“In District 6 we had 86 percent turnout,” he continued. “That kind of engagement is a victory for everybody.”