In the affordable housing complex that confined the existence of my youth and early adulthood, I was not expected to achieve my dreams or overcome the adversity that many families in San Jose face. But today—through determination, hard work and the belief and support of neighbors—I hope to become the next elected representative of the District 2 City Council seat.
Growing up in the East Side, our only “neighborhood association” was comprised of moms dragging their children away by the pull of an ear. Our entrepreneurs were the families who sold frozen treats or homemade snacks so they could afford new clothes for their growing children. Engagement with the broader world was limited and we remained mostly unseen. Achieving any dream came with the reality of many barriers.
Like the history of many families in Silicon Valley, my mother relocated here for a chance at a better life. As an immigrant and a single mother, she worked hard at her low-wage job. Ensuring we were fed and clothed left little time for civic engagement. Many of San Jose’s opportunities and challenges felt distant compared to our own.
Back then we were some of the unheard voices of San Jose. East San Jose was better than the life my mother left behind and, thankfully, her perseverance provided us opportunities to dream and achieve. I want to make certain that all families have the same opportunity she worked so hard to give me.
As a child, sharing the living room floor as our bed, I would think of the world outside our own. I knew my mom was working hard for us. I knew that even if I did not fulfill my dreams, my hard work would leave my children better off than where I started. My passion for public service is rooted in my family's struggle.
I face my past with humility and embrace the ups and downs. We are not simply defined by the good or the bad that befalls us. It’s how we respond that defines our character. During this campaign I have shared my story. Through it, I hope you see my love for our city. I love this work because I know local government can positively impact lives.
Long before I considered seeking elected office, I rolled up my sleeves and founded an official neighborhood association that has since grown to more than 900 members. Also since 2010, I have served our community as a parks commissioner. No other candidate in District 2 is more prepared to work for our neighborhoods on Jan. 1. That is why voters selected me first in June’s primary. In the time since, support for our campaign has only grown.
We have heavy lifting to do and big issues to tackle. To do that, we need someone with experience who knows our neighborhoods, rather than someone who is still uncertain of what the job responsibilities of elected office entail. I will stand against outside influences and dangerous ideologies. We need to see each other in our struggles and unite as a community. Our differences make us great and embracing our diversity strengthens us. Let us work together so everyone has a better chance to succeed.
I will be the community's voice so that the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) provides better routes and service to our neighborhoods. I will work with our police and fire departments to recruit from within San Jose, so that those who serve us will already know us. I will work with community leaders to see a regional response to our jobs and housing needs. I want to protect Coyote Valley from unfettered, shortsighted growth. I will continue the conversations we started during the campaign.
The more we work together the stronger we make San Jose. In working together we will see our children achieve their dreams and truly broaden their view of what's possible. That work starts with your vote on Nov. 8. Thank you.
Sergio Jimenez is a San Jose City Council candidate in District 2. The opinions in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.