Councilwoman Dev Davis Faces Green Party Candidate Jake Tonkel in San Jose’s D6 Race

Interest groups dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into San Jose’s District 6 race have made it one of the priciest elections in Silicon Valley.

On Nov. 3, Councilwoman Dev Davis squares off with biomedical engineer Jake Tonkel for the San Jose City Council seat that represents Willow Glen, Santana Row, the historic Rose Garden and The Alameda.

Like Councilman Lan Diep, who is running for re-election in District 4, Davis has been a reliable vote for business-friendly Mayor Sam Liccardo on a council that favors business over labor by a 6-5 vote margin. The dynamic has made both seats a key target for progressives looking to flip the council.

Since the March primary, the battle for the D6 seat has become increasingly polarized as the candidates have voiced opposing viewpoints on nearly every issue.

Dev Davis

If re-elected, Davis says her top priorities for a second term would be the economic recovery from Covid-19, public safety, crime and blight and housing and homelessness.

“We need to create a recovery roadmap for San Jose to ensure that we have a comprehensive strategy for our recovery from Covid-19,” Davis said. “This would factor in our small and medium businesses, how to help our homeless population and how to ensure we can deliver the quality core services all our residents deserve.”

Since the George Floyd protests this past summer, the issue of policing has helped shape the D6 race as Tonkel and Davis have differing opinions on the future of San Jose’s force. On her campaign website, Davis lists voting to increase the number of officers in the city and increasing the department budget as some of her “first-term accomplishments.”

If awarded a second term, she says she wants to add additional traffic enforcement cops and with work SJPD “to stay on top of developing hot spots in District 6.”

The self-described fiscal conservative said she also plans on continuing to enact financially sound policies.

“We’re facing a major budget crisis, and I will ensure every taxpayer dollar is spent responsibly and has the maximum impact possible,”  Davis said. “I will ensure that we focus on our core services and keep our funding directed at core services and not be distracted by pet projects or pork spending.”

Another key issue in the D6 race has been opportunity housing. In August, San Jose’s General Plan review committee recommended that the council further explore opportunity housing, which could allow duplexes, triplexes or fourplexes to be built in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes.

Davis has publicly stated that she supports the city’s current “urban village” model, which would focus on densifying certain neighborhoods in the city. If elected to a second term, she says she will continue fighting to protect single-family neighborhoods.

Over the course of the campaign, Davis has raised $392,108, according to election filings. She lists her top endorsements as Liccardo, the League of Conservation Voters, The Mercury News and BAYMEC.

Jake Tonkel

Tonkel, a Green Party candidate, told San Jose Inside that he decided to run for the D6 seat because he thought “the city of San Jose was not really moving forward with policies that put the city first.”

The former Peace Corps volunteer lists his top priorities as ensuring more affordable housing is built, helping homeless individuals get off the streets and the economic recovery from Covid-19.

With the race and the district becoming increasingly polarized, Tonkel says that if he’s elected, his day one priority is to ensure all residents—including those who voted against him—have the opportunity to voice their concerns.

“Generally, supporters are happier to talk to you about what’s going on and how they’re feeling and what they might need, so I’d love for us to start off by just building relationships with everybody in the community as best we can,” Tonkel said.

He added that he also would want to check-in with residents about Covid-19, the recent fires and ecnomic recovery to make sure they start a “robust discussion” about the next steps for the district.

Over the last few months, Tonkel has been an active participant in Black Lives Matter protests and the fight for racial justice in San Jose and across the country. Instead of increasing the number of officers in the city—like his opponent—Tonkel has advocated for redirecting resources and hiring social workers and mental health professionals to aid in calls where police presence is not always needed.

Another issue where Tonkel has clashed with his opponent on is opportunity housing, which he has has stated his support.

Despite recent misleading political mailers that claim Tonkel would eliminate single-family neighborhoods, the Green Party candidate says he just wants to ensure the city is using every tool at its disposal to get out of the housing crisis.

“We certainly have a community that sees [renters and homeowners] as different economic classes and I think it’s extremely damaging to the policy that we put in place, it’s extremely damaging to community building and neighborhoods and I want to make sure we are building a socioeconomically diverse healthy community,” he said.

Since the beginning of his campaign, Tonkel has raised $177,358.45, according to election filings. He lists his top endorsements as California Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), the San Jose Teacher’s Association and the California Nurse’s Association.

Previous Coverage

Bail Bonds Boss Raises Campaign Cash for South Bay’s Business-Aligned Candidates

BAYMEC Unveils Endorsements for March Primary Election

Challenger Outraises Incumbent in San Jose’s D6 Council Race

Four Candidates, Two San Jose Council Seats: $200,000 Combined Fundraising Haul

Green Party Challenger Forces a Runoff in San Jose’s D6 Race

Public Bank Advocate Jumps in San Jose’s D6 City Council Race

San Jose Councilwoman Dev Davis Kicks Off Re-Election Bid

South Bay Labor IE Blows Past Campaign Filing Deadline

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

18 Comments

  1. > Tonkel says that if he’s elected, his day one priority is to ensure all residents—including those who voted against him—have the opportunity to voice their concerns.

    Jake should be running to be the city’s mental health therapist, not City Council.

    The choice in this election is a no brainer.

    Dev Davis.

  2. I’m not sure what the previous commentator means by “The choice in this election is a no brainer. Dev Davis.” Does this mean Davis has no brain? Or that people without brains should vote for Davis? Or that those with brains should vote for Tonkel? More attention to semantics and syntax would help a great deal here.

    Be that as it may, the people of San Jose’s Council District 6 have a stark choice between Davis, a politician with a neoliberal addiction to moneyed interests and Tonkel, a progressive dedicated to the use of public resources to better the public. Davis has demonstrated her allegiance to landlords and large real estate developers throughout her rather brief career. Two examples are illustrative.

    In May 2017, Davis voted against a very reasonable “just cause” eviction policy adopted by the Council and opposed by the California Apartment Association and other real estate interests (https://caanet.org/san-jose-votes-impose-just-cause-eviction-controls-immediately/;https://www.sccaor.com/a-quick-guide-to-san-joses-just-cause-ordinance/). The new policy simply asserted that landlords cannot just evict a tenant at his/her whim; there must be a legal reason to do so. For Davis, the interests of property owners come before those of renters.

    In September 2019, Davis was part of the Council majority that voted to reduce taxes and fees and relax affordable housing mandates for a handful of the largest and wealthiest property developers in downtown, a move that cost the City an estimated $54.5 million in forgone revenues. The aim in doing so was to guarantee wealthy downtown developers (including Borelli Investment Company, KB Homes, Peery-Arrillaga and Jay Paul Company) an average profit rate of 5.25% rather than their anticipated 4.13% rate, as estimated by the business-friendly analyses on which the Council relied (see: https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2019/09/24/what-to-watch-for-as-sjs-city-council-votes-on.html; https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/09/20/san-jose-to-consider-extending-subsidy-for-downtown-high-rise-residential-projects/; https://www.sanjoseinside.com/2019/09/25/sj-council-extends-high-rise-housing-incentives-on-split-vote/)

    Davis and the Council majority, despite an anticipated 2020-2021 City budget deficit of $71.6 million (see https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2020/05/14/san-jose-budget-shortfall-2021-recession.html), subsequently doubled down in August 2020 by completely succumbing to real estate developers and completely eliminating the affordable housing mandates on residential projects, an even bigger give away (https://sanjosespotlight.com/san-jose-city-council-whopping-break-for-high-rise-developers/). The allegedly “fiscally responsible” Davis has repeatedly voted in ways that will cause multiple tens of millions in lost city revenues in order to serve her wealthy backers.

    On the other hand, Jake Tonkel (https://www.sanjoseinside.com/opinion/op-ed-public-banking-can-recharge-south-bays-economy/) was a key South Bay organizer for AB 857, the public banking law that was signed by Governor Newsom in October 2019 (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/oct/03/california-governor-public-banking-law-ab857; https://californiapublicbankingalliance.org/ab-857-legislation-brief/). This opens the way for San Jose and other local entities to establish public banks that have the potential to save local governments tens and hundreds of millions in fees, commissions and lower interest rates on publicly issued bonds. Furthermore, it creates a relatively low cost and robust means of financing public infrastructure and affordable housing.

    That consequential legislation was strongly opposed by the California Bankers Association (https://www.calbankers.com/press-release/california-bankers-association-response-signing-ab-857). But the vital importance for the public was Tonkel’s only consideration in fighting for that legislation. Like I said, District 6 residents have a real choice this election: to re-elect an ally of the moneyed interests selling business as usual or a real progressive whose first and last consideration is the welfare of the community (https://jake4d6.com/meet-jake/).

    Anyone with a brain and a heart would choose the latter.

  3. Davis is no prize but MUCH better than what Tonkel has to offer.
    Tonkel wants to force you out of your single family home because you don’t deserve it; and several addicts on the government dole could be housed in it.

    Hold your nose and Vote For Davis.

  4. > For Davis, the interests of property owners come before those of renters.

    So, Jake Tonkel is against private property.

    The issue of whether private property was a good idea or a bad idea was settled thousands of years ago.

    Before private property, foragers just grabbed whatever they wanted at the moment, consumed it, and never replaced it. And then they moved on and did the same thing again. Humans were nomadic and left a trail of waste and bareness behind them.

    And then some wise tribal chief or king figured out that private property was a good idea because it created food surpluses for future needs. So the wise king laid down the law and told the foragers to leave the producers alone or he would crack their heads.

    “Renters” just want to consume housing without producing any housing.

    Our wise king has decreed that people who produce and provide housing should be appreciated, respected, and protected.

    Jake Tonkel and his band of foragers who want to use the housing provided by housing producers without appreciating, respecting, and protecting the providers should be ignored and restrained.

    Tonkel’s instigation of the “renter tribe” is an attack on private property and an attack on 5,000 years of civilization.

  5. Really Bubble…
    When your comment is replied to with a well researched and well cited response, you resort to a straw man argument?

    >> For Davis, the interests of property owners come before those of renters.
    >So, Jake Tonkel is against private property.

    A straw man fallacy occurs when someone takes another person’s argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, and then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making.

  6. — “Instead of increasing the number of officers in the city—like his opponent—Tonkel has advocated for redirecting resources and hiring social workers and mental health professionals to aid in calls where police presence is not always needed.” —

    Redirecting resources?” If that means cutting the police budget, which I think it does, then why is that extremely important detail omitted? The police department is, and has historically been, understaffed. So what’s to be cut? Patrol, which is already almost non-existent in residential areas (and woefully undermanned for dealing with the vandalizing and violent tactics of peaceful protesters)? Maybe the domestic violence unit, or perhaps the sexual assault unit? Does young Mr. Tonkel support the turning away of battered women and rape victims?

    “Social workers and mental health professionals to aid in calls where police presence is not always needed.” Isn’t there a requirement for a sentence to having meaning? Exactly how would a 9-1-1 call-taker determine who to send on such a call? Police are either needed or not. As much as I’d love to see one of these sensitive miracle workers experience what it’s like to need a cop when there’s not one around, I can’t imagine a call-taker or dispatch policy that would allow its employees to roll the dice based upon the unconfirmed information provided by callers. My prediction is this: if such a program gets off the ground it would quickly become policy to send the cops along on everything. Net savings in police man hours: zero. Net loss to community: another chunk of its safety.

    Last thing. There have been a number of federal grants issued to police departments to add mental health response teams as a resource for use by field officers. I was made aware of one such program in San Jose, twenty-something years ago, in which not one single psychologist out of the dozens interviewed met the hiring standards (for character and reliability). “Reimagined” solutions like these, now all the rage, have been talked about for decades which should cause every rational thinker to wonder why it is they have to be reimagined. After all, cops would be happy to be freed from the no-win burden of dealing with the mentally-ill and drug-addicted. They’d also like to be freed of the no-win burden of dealing with know-nothing reformers like Jake Tonkel.

  7. > A straw man fallacy occurs when someone takes another person’s argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, and then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making.

    But, Jake Tonkel is against private property, right?

  8. Looks like cops are off donut duty and trolling the boards in favor of Davis. Gotta make sure they can keep choking and shooting brown people!

  9. Derek Bolander,

    Congratulations on exceeding what must’ve been the expectations of your second-grade teacher, as your comment was definitely third-grade quality. I imagine the creativity of your “donut duty” comment was all the talk as you and your girlfriends jumped rope at recess.

  10. And I see you’ve played right into the cliché trope of the hyper-masculine type voter. Was that supposed to prick my heart by shaming me for playing with the girls in the schoolyard. Was your idea of recess bootlicking the neighborhood cop?

  11. Derek Bolander.

    Hyper-masculinity was hardly required to feel contempt for your childish, girlie whining about SJPD “choking and shooting brown people.”

  12. The attack ads and lies have been escalating for the last few weeks. Dev could have stopped her surrogates long before now but chose to benefit from their lies. It was only when the blowback became damaging did she disavow. Says a lot about her values.

  13. Remember, Dev Davis initially joined the City Council as a Republican before trying to hide her true colors by declaring she is an independent. Just like Trump, when you have little track record to stand on, you go on the attack with false and belittling accusations. Davis needs to leave office so Jake Tonkel can represent the district.

  14. The interest of property owners should always come before tenants. Hard work, making and sticking to commitments, delaying gratification, and making correct choices should be encouraged over procrastination, flaking out, instant gratification, and always choosing the easy way. Stop whining about success, study and copy it.

  15. In the America I grew up, we valued hard work, not people getting something for nothing. Vote for Jake to stick it to the lazy, entitled, rentier class.

  16. Curious why the title calls out Green Party for Jake, but not Republican Party for Dev? This is not a partisan position, and I believe Jake is not defined by his party affiliation, nor does he advocate all the components of that plan, as some detractors would want us to believe. Let’s be fair.

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