Pat Dando, the former vice mayor of San Jose and CEO of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, died of lung cancer Sunday. She was 71.
Dando served the South Bay in a variety of roles, and she rarely held back from expressing her opinion. As a staffer in Mayor Tom McEnery’s office and later as council member, Dando had a major hand in shaping Almaden Valley (District 10).
Known as a conservative who called it like she saw it and would often go about achieving her goals with or without help, her 1998 mayoral campaign slogan was “Common Sense, Plain Talk, Hard Work.” After leaving office, Dando spent six years running the South Bay chamber organization, which is now known as the Silicon Valley Organization (SVO).
“Pat brought a unique perspective to being a Chamber CEO as a former school teacher, community leader, and council member and candidate,” said Matt Mahood, President and CEO of the SVO. “She was very effective as a Chamber CEO during her six-year tenure from 2005-2011. She will be missed.”
Dando’s path to politics was hardly a straight line.
Born and raised in Texas, she married young and moved to New York with her husband, Bob, before relocating to Almaden Valley in 1974. A mother of three and grandmother to nine, she earned a reputation for being fearless in the face of opposition, whether it required crossing a picket line during a teacher strike or ridding Almaden schools of student smoking areas. When she felt something was right, there was little to be done in talking her out of an idea.
“Pat was easy to get along with but had very, very strong views,” former Councilman David Pandori told Metro in 1998. “She wanted to do things. She wasn’t there to read reports and say, ‘I agree, I agree, I agree.’”
Council members who succeeded Dando in District 10 lauded the positive impact she had on the community.
“She helped me get elected, she walked precincts for me,” Councilman Johnny Khamis told San Jose Inside. “She is someone I looked up to, to model my own career after.”
Nancy Pyle, who lost a challenge for Dando’s council seat in 1998 before going on to serve two terms of her own, noted the contributions Dando made in Almaden, even though the two didn’t see eye to eye on every issue.
“Pat did a tremendous amount to help the community,” Pyle said. “We will all miss her.”
Read a longer profile on Pat Dando from the 1998 San Jose mayor’s race.