San Jose Council Incumbents Win Re-Election; Frontrunners for 3 Open Seats Head to Fall Runoff

UPDATE: Councilman Manh Nguyen, who took the lead over challenger Lan Diep in early returns,  fell behind Friday morning with thousands of ballots yet to be counted.

The only two incumbents in San Jose’s City Council elections managed to win another four years in office—one in a landslide victory and the other by only a slim margin. Meanwhile, some surprising frontrunners emerged in the race for three open seats, securing their place in the runoff this fall.

With all precincts reporting Wednesday morning but mail-in ballots yet to be counted, Councilman Johnny Khamis coasted to victory in District 10, which spans Almaden Valley. His opponent, software professional Mike Sodergren, entered the race late, refused to raise any money and came away with only 24 percent of the vote.

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District 4 Councilman Manh Nguyen, on the other hand, barely held on to his seat—again, with mail-in ballots still being tallied—edging ahead of his challenger, Lan Diep, by just 136 votes. The results were similar last year, when Nguyen narrowly beat Diep, a public interest attorney, in a special election for the North San Jose seat.

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Three seats were up for grabs with council members Ash Kalra, Pierluigi Oliverio and Rose Herrera terming out later this year. Oliverio’s District 6, which encompasses Willow Glen and the Rose Garden, became the most competitive, with eight candidates vying to replace him.

The two women leading the pack and winning their place in November’s runoff: retired researcher and parks advocate Helen Chapman and Stanford University researcher Dev Davis.

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In District 8, San Jose’s Evergreen area, five people put their name in the running to succeed Herrera. The clear frontrunners, and now runoff opponents, were attorney Jimmy Nguyen and Evergreen School District trustee Sylvia Arenas.

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Of the four contenders for Kalra’s post in District 2, San Jose’s Edenvale and Santa Teresa community, the person who raised the least money clinched the most votes. Businessman Steve Brown led the pack followed by public defender investigator Sergio Jimenez.

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The outcome of this fall’s runoff elections will shake up the power dynamic on the council between labor and business interests. To keep track of the results, check in to Santa Clara County’s Registrar of Voters website for the latest tally.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. “His opponent, software professional Mike Sodergren, entered the race late, refused to raise any money and came away with only 24 percent of the vote.”

    With ONLY 24% of the vote? That’s how you chose to write those words? Ms. Wadsworth, you failed to see the enormous victory in terms of the BIGGER picture. Sodergren won 24% of votes after 1) entering the race late and most important 2) REFUSED TO RAISE ANY MONEY!

    As far as I’m concerned, and I’m a district 10 resident that voted for Mr. Sodergren, earning 24% of the vote while taking not ONE DIME from anyone is a huge victory for the future of politics. How do you think Sodergren got to 24% ? He was taking time talking one on one with voters about their concerns. And one of their concerns? The money in politics! So…as far as I’m concerned Mike Sodergren didn’t come away with “only” 24%” of the vote, he came away with my vote and my respect and I plan on voting for him again when he runs a no-money campaign again.

    Mike Sodergren is smart, caring, and extremely motivated to get the money out of politics! He accomplished his goal and gave me and others someone to vote for that took the time to understand our issues and run a campaign based on principles that will eventually take hold in local politics and eventually the country. Principles matter. Mike Sodergren “won” as far as I’m concerned.

    • > Mike Sodergren is smart, caring, and extremely motivated to get the money out of politics! He accomplished his goal ….

      No one will ever get the money out of politics until they get money out of the economy.

      The only way to get money out of the economy is to go back to a hunter-gatherer economy.

      The candidate who raised and deployed money productively won 76% of the vote. Money is useful and multiplies the energy and wisdom of candidates who are in synch with voters.

    • A dead pug wouldve gotten 24 pct in a TWOway race vs khamis….the anti khamis voters need a home and there was only one place to go to on the ballor

  2. I agree with Jill. I am a district 10 resident and I voted for Mike for 2 reasons. He is principled, and he cares. This is what distinguishes a true leader from a politician. Rome was not built in a day. Mike’s return on investment, considering he only spent $0 on his campaign, is infinite. Remember, he had to battle cynicism that comes when you see a true leader appear to battle an incumbent, a career politician who will flip-flop as and where the wind blows. We need people like Mike Sodergren to act as our political and moral compass when it comes to elections, or big money and corporations will ruin what the people of this great nation have built over centuries.

    In case you are wondering, I am not a liberal either.

  3. I don’t live in D 10 and have heard Mr. Sodergren’s name only once, on a radio show which noted he was running and was taking no money. When I heard that he was taking no money I concluded that whatever his merits, he had no chance of winning. Then I read above that he received “only” 24% of the vote. ONLY? 24% against an incumbent when you raised no money is HUGE. Clearly his message resonated with those with whom he spoke. If Mr. Sodergren loses some of his naivete and accepts some money from individuals who live in the district he should be a shoe-in four years hence.

    • In a local race with two candidates with little or no name recognition, a sack of potatoes would get 20 percent of the vote.

      I would not draw any conclusions from Sodergren’s 24% of the vote.

  4. A qualified high five to District 6 voters.

    I don’t know most of the candidates in District 6, but the one I do know richly deserved to be “non-selected”.

    A pompous, shallow twit who just wanted to “BE” someone. Now he can go back to being a pompous, shallow twit on his own dime and leave the rest of us alone.

  5. Almaden Valley must be super happy with their anti public safety councilman. I guess the spike in burglaries had no affect on their vote. The SJ voter has always been a strange animal.

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