Milpitas Councilman Anthony Phan is the latest candidate to jump into the race for the open 25th Assembly District seat. Just days before the filing deadline, Phan decided he’d give Sacramento a go in a bid to replace Assemblyman Kansen Chu (D-San Jose).
“I was taking a look at a few of the candidates and I wasn’t impressed,” he told San Jose Inside. “I was trying to see would I actually vote for any of them—that’s something that I just do for any race, every time filing deadlines come around—[but] I couldn’t and I feel that I have something to offer.”
Twenty-six-year-old Phan is currently serving his first term on the Milpitas City Council, which is set to expire in 2020. Prior to his council victory in 2016, he served on a number of government boards and made an unsuccessful bid to be a board member for the East Side Union School District. His experience in local government, he said, is what ultimately sets him apart—especially his involvement with more regional groups like the Association of Bay Area Governments and the California League of Cities.
“I get to hear the perspective of policy makers from outside that small Milpitas bubble,” he said. “And while I often times disagree with a lot of these point of views, it’s very important to have that perspective that you wouldn’t be able to see if you have always been focused in one area.”
Phan added that while Milpitas often gets a bad rap for sparking controversy, the council has shaped a city that he’s proud of.
“We’re one of the few cities that actually have transit and housing and jobs and we’re continuing to expand that infrastructure,” he remarked.
The AD25 race, however, isn’t Phan’s first aspiration for higher office this election season. Earlier this year, he opened committees to explore running for Santa Clara County assessor and for Dave Cortese’s open supervisor seat. But at the end of the day, Phan said, he closed the committee because his heart wasn’t in it.
“When it comes down to the core of it all, what I care about is public policy—actually creating, seeing ideas come to fruition and the impact that it has on every day people,” he said in an interview earlier this week. “If an office doesn’t fulfill those ideas or points for me, I’m less inclined to actually go for it.”
Phan faces a number of opponents in the March primary, including attorney Anne Kepner, Santa Clara County Board of Education trustee Anna Song, former local Pete Buttigieg organizer Natasha Gupta, policy advisor Alex Lee and Santa Clara Unified School District trustee Jim Canova.
Phan’s colleague, Milpitas Councilwoman Carmen Montano, also joined the race earlier this fall. Other Milpitas politicians have also been eager to set their sights on Sacramento. Mayor Rich Tran and Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez previously flirted with the idea, but both dropped out to focus on their jobs at the local level.
That leaves Councilman Bob Nuñez as the sole member of the Milpitas council who has not expressed aspirations for the assembly seat.
The California primary election takes place on March 3, 2020. For more information about local races, campaign fundraising, how to register to vote and more, visit the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters website at sccvote.org.