Obama Names Tony West to Justice Post
Posted by Comments (24)on Sunday, January 25, 2009
Ten years ago, in January 1998, Metro newspaper named Tony West as one of the people to watch in Silicon Valley, an up-and-comer. At the time, the Evergreen-raised graduate of Bellarmine Preparatory School was a federal prosecutor and member of the San Jose Planning Commission who had his eye on the District 3 City Council seat being vacated by term-limited David Pandori. With degrees from Harvard and Stanford, West was clearly one of the best educated people ever to run for San Jose City Council. He was defeated by Cindy Chavez.
In 2000, West ran against Manny Diaz for the California Assembly seat occupied by Mike Honda before he entered U.S. Congress. Subject to a racially-tinged, last-minute political hit funded by a previously unknown group, California Voter Project, West was branded as “The Oakland Raider.” Diaz won.
West left San Jose after that. He likes to recall that he was called “the best candidate to have never won a race.”
He worked as a California Special Assistant Attorney General under Bill Lockyer and joined the high powered international law firm Morrison & Foerster at its San Francisco office in 2001. His wife, Maya, serves as executive director of the ACLU of Northern California. His sister-in-law, Kamala Harris, is the district attorney of San Francisco.
West struck up a friendship with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama while serving as a delegate for John Kerry in 2004. He played basketball with Obama and later served as finance co-chair of Obama’s campaign in California, which raised a noteworthy $65 million.
On Thursday, January 22, President Obama named Tony West to head the US Department of Justice’s Civil Division. The division handles claims and recoveries involving billions of dollars, and its scope includes national security issues, criminal violations of consumer protection laws and constitutional issues.
Clearly, West’s career, San Jose’s present and now the United State’s future are different because the voters of District 3 didn’t elect Tony West. It might have been West instead of Chavez who spent eight years as a council representative preparing for the 2008 San Jose mayor’s race, a contest that could have turned out differently with West in the mix.
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