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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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City of SunnyvaleCandidate for City Council, Seat 4

Photo of John Cordes

John Cordes

environmental advocate, engineering manager, community leader
13,984 votes (34.37%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Improve quality of life by reducing traffic congestion by providing alternatives include more shuttles, more bicycle and walking alternatives,
  • Create a more just Sunnyvale by protecting existing affordable housing via rent stabilization, ending homelessness, and enabling lower income neighbor to continue to live here.
  • Encourage Sunnyvale to be a leader in sustainability by capture and storing more rain water, greener building standards and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.



Profession:environmental advocate, engineering manager, community leader
commissioner, Sunnyvale Bicycle Pedistrian Advisory Commission — Appointed position (2014–current)
Vice Chair, Sunnyvale Bicycle Pedistrian Advisory Commission — Appointed position (2015–2016)
Chapter Director - Loma Prieta, Sierra Club (2013–2015)
Chair, Sunnyvale Neighbors of LaLinda including Arbor (SNAIL) Neighborhood Association — Elected position (2013–2015)
Process Development Business Process Manager, Global Foundries (2011–2012)
Vice Chair, Sunnyvale Neighbors of LaLinda including Arbor (SNAIL) Neighborhood Association — Elected position (2012–2012)
Product Development Business Process Manager, National Semiconductor (1996–2008)
Various Engineering roles; process eng, product eng, product eng manager, National Semiconductor (1981–1996)


Santa Clara University Master's, Engineering Management (1989)
University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana Bachelor's, Chemical Engineering (1981)
United States Coast Guard Academy 3 1/2 undergradute studies,, Chemistry Major, Coast Guard Officer training (1980)

Community Activities

Stewardship Committee member ( organize annual stewardship campaign), Good Samaritan United Methodist church (2014–current)
Activity Leader, Sierra Club, Inspiring Connections Outdoors (take disadvantaged youth on trip to experience nature - hikes, mtn bike rides, kayaking, XC skiing) (2005–2016)
Executive Committee member ( Same as a non-profit board director), Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter (2009–2013)
Political Committee Co-chair, Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter (2002–2012)


A little about me

  • I came to live in Sunnyvale in 1981 to work for National Semiconductor with my degree in Chemical engineering. 
  • I am happily married to Diane Gleason, a high school math teacher. 
  • I retired after holding a variety of engineering and management positions in the semiconductor industry. My most recent work role was the Chapter Director for the Sierra Club from 2013-15.
  • I spent 3 1/2 years at the United States Coast Guard Academy. It is the Coast Guard's version of Annapolis or West Point. The motto of the academy is to Revere Honor, Honor Duty. It has been a guiding principle in my life ever sign. It is our duty to take care of each other and the planet

Personal LIfe Goal - Leave the world better off. 

John's Qualifications

  • 18+ year resident of Sunnyvale,  resident of either Sunnyvale or Santa Clara since 1981
  • 2015 Leadership Sunnyvale graduate
  • Vice-Chair Sunnyvale Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Commission. Commissioner since 2014.
  • 2013-15 Chair of the SNAIL neighborhood association. vice chair 2012.
  • 'Energize Sunnyvale' team member helping Sunnyvale compete to win the Georgetown $5 million energy challenge.
  • Sunnyvale Cool Leadership team member since 2011, a local environmental advocacy organization.
  • Recent volunteer at Sunnyvale community services. 
  • Numerous leadership roles with the Sierra Club including executive committee, political committee co-chair, outings leader
  • 10+year Leader and volunteer with the Sierra Club ICO program. We take disadvantaged youth on outdoor adventures including sea kayaking, mtn biking, camping, white water rafting and my speciality snow trips.
  • Stewardship committee member for Good Samaritan United Methodist church. We run many programs to help the poor in our church. I am in charge of the annual Family Giving Tree christmas gift drive and the annual Back-To-School backpack drive in the summer.

Business experience


  • MS in Engineering mgmt. from Santa Clara University
  • BS in Chemical engineering from University of lllinois

What else about me?

  • I am the oldest of 4 siblings. I have 2 brothers and a sister. I grew up having to watch out for them and I guess I still am in the role today but for everyone these days. 
  •  I enjoy being outdoors a lot. My favorite hobby is cross country skiing. In the summer, I bicycle, seakayak, hike, and backpack.
  • Diane and I use most of our front and side yard for growing veggies and drought tolerant plants. ​

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Ballot Measures I support in Sunnyvale

Measure A - Santa Clara county bond measure for affordable housing

Measure B- Santa Clara county bond measure for transportation

Measure N - Sunnyvale update to Utility Tax 

I oppose Sunnyvale Measure M - Public Lands Act because it is poorly written and not the correct solution to the concerns some citizens have about requiring more involvement by the voters in selling or leasing of city owned land in Sunnyvale.


Position Papers

How should Sunnyvale help residents affected by rapidly increasing rents?


Classes of Sunnyvale residents are exposed to the risk of rapidly increasing rent. Sunnyvale needs to protect these vunerable parts of our community. 

There are two groups of residents in Sunnyvale who are being subjected to the threat or actuality of rapidly rising rents, Apartment tenants and mobile home park residents. Sunnyvale does not currently have any rent stablization or rent control policies to protect either of these groups.

Sunnyvale should leverage the efforts underway in neighboring cities like Mountain View and San Mateo to develop policies to protect these vunerable residents. City policies state that we want a diverse community. If we continue to allow most of our lower and middle income residents to be forced from the city we  are tearing our communities apart. It is an injustice to force many valuable and long term members of our community to move far away to find affordable housing. 

What are your plans for controlling growth in Sunnyvale?


My plans for controlling growth are to increase development impact fees, change zoning and land use plans and require intermediate development caps. Sunnyvale needs better development policies and goals to meet the needs of its residents in the 21st century.

Q: What are your plans for controlling growth in Sunnyvale?

My plans for controlling growth are to increase development impact fees, change zoning and land use plans and require intermediate development caps. Sunnyvale needs better development policies and goals to meet the needs of its residents in the 21st century.

Increase Development Impact Fees

Development fees are not meant to be a general revenue source like sales tax or property tax. Sunnyvale can't use development fees for pension or purposes. They are collected and supposed to be spent based on the types of impact they cause.New development causes more traffic so the city charges a traffic impact fee. New residents need more open space so developers either need to donate land or pay 'parks-in-lieu' fees. The important question is "How high should those fees be?". Given the increased congestion almost each new development causes, it is clear the current fees are not enough to allow Sunnyvale to mitigate the impact. I will champion Sunnyvale increasing the impact fees as a key way to better mitigate the impacts of growth while also discouraging it. The Nexus study Sunnyvale recently conducted shows the fees the city is currently charging do not cover the cost of the impacts.

Control growth through land-use, zoning and development agreements.

Sunnyvale also controls growth via our land use plans, zoning, and development agreements. We need Sunnyvale to develop differently going forward. The old model of housing in one area and jobs in another is no longer the best choice in the 21st century. We need much more integrated land use going forward with apartments and/or condo or offices above ground floor retail in our transit corridors like El Camino Real. We need more mixed use housing near transit. We need more housing instead of more office space in Sunnyvale to reduce the jobs/housing imbalance. For example, after reviewing the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for Peery Park, I spoke in favor of rezoning much of Peery Park ( the area west of Mathilda and East of 85, North of Caltrain and South of US101) to mixed use residential instead of keeping it mostly industrial.The DEIR projected that if Peery Park were allowed to be redeveloped as proposed, the total # of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by all the new employees there would double along with all the related increases in traffic, air pollution, and stress. Part of solving our traffic problem is adding more housing instead of more office space in Sunnyvale so more people who work in or near Sunnyvale can have shorter commutes. This is particularly important in areas close to the Sunnyvale and Lawrence Cal-Train stations. I think there are areas in Peery Park where a planned community, with schools, parks and local retail would be a much better use of land instead of more office towers. If elected, I would vote to start over with a new vision for Peery Park.

Sunnyvale hopefully will continue to evolve its development requirements to require more open space with public access around new developments. The East Sunnyvale Sense of Place project will have 1 mile bicycle and pedestrian trail around it which is open to everyone.We need to work with developers to insure these type of community benefits are included in large projects.I support higher open space requirements in future developments.

Intermediate Development Caps

Another way to control growth is with development caps or limits in land use plans. Development caps are based on the environmental impact reports used and approved as part of changing zoning. For example, the Moffet Park Specific Plan has a development cap of 24M sq ft. It was expected that it would take about 20 years for developers to add 24M sq ft of office in Moffet Park when it was approved. Instead, developers added about 24M sq ft office space in about 8 years.Approving all this new office space in such a short time did not give Sunnyvale time to see how it would impact resident's quality of life. If the Moffet Park Specific plan had intermediate development caps, like only allowing 12M sq ft in the first 10 years and the next 12M sq ft in years 11-20, it would have worked out much better for Sunnyvale residents because it would have allowed the city time to adapt and mitigate the impacts.If elected, I would push for requiring intermediate development caps in new plans. Sunnyvale did include them in the Lawrence Station Area Plan. 

Videos (1)

This is a quick 3 minute introductory video about John and why you should elect him to Seat 4 this Nov. 

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