It’s a pivotal year for District 4 voters as they decide who will represent the city’s north side on the San Jose City Council.
The winner will have a big say in determining how the district addresses its challenging housing and traffic issues, and shaping the transit village that will surround the Berryessa BART station (presuming it actually opens sometime this decade). District 4’s success is critical to the city’s overall health because 70 percent of San Jose’s sales tax revenues are generated there.
Fortunately for voters, the District 4 field of four candidates is the strongest in at least a decade.
Incumbent Lan Diep’s experience, his support for Mayor Sam Liccardo’s agenda and his ability to balance the needs of the district’s residents and businesses set him apart from his challengers. Voters should reelect him in 2020.
Diep is the least-programmed member on the council. His thoughtful approach often leaves people with the impression that he is a policy wonk. But his entire life has been built around diving into difficult issues with the intent of helping others. After graduating from Independence High School and becoming an attorney, he worked to help victims of the BP oil spill pursue their claims and then assisted low-income Vietnamese-Americans on wage-theft issues.
Diep wants another four years in office to help the district navigate the complex land-use issues that are key to alleviating the city’s housing crisis. His goal is “to build a San Jose for our children and grandchildren.”
Building affordable housing isn’t as simple as his opponents would like residents to believe. The notion that merely holding developers’ feet to the fire will yield waves of new units only leads to further stalling of urgently needed projects. Diep’s support for Liccardo’s multi-pronged housing strategy gives District 4 and San Jose the best chance of meeting the city’s long-term needs.
As a solid Liccardo ally, Diep’s election would also help prevent labor from gaining a majority on the City Council. Diep’s strongest challengers — David Cohen and Huy Tran — have both been endorsed by the South Bay Labor Council, which frequently opposes the mayor’s initiatives.
Cohen and Tran are well-versed on District 4 issues and have the experience necessary to make them solid candidates.
Cohen has been a respected member of the Berryessa Union School District board for 13 years and also served on the San Jose Library Commission from 2001-7. He articulates a more moderate position than Tran, who toes the line on labor issues. Tran served as the District 4 representative on the San Jose Housing and Community Development Commission from 2017-9 and has been a force for creating wage-theft ordinances in the region.
The other challenger in the District 4 race is 32-year-old Jamal Khan, who does not have the funding, political backing or experience to be considered a serious candidate but shows potential as a future leader. Khan was valedictorian of his Independence High School class and earned a law degree from Harvard University. He has a firm grasp of the issues, and we hope he stays active in San Jose politics.
Diep is the best choice of the strong field. We recommend him.
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