June Election: Breaking Down All 5 San Jose City Council Races

San Jose voters have some big decisions to make this summer, with a sales tax, a pot measure and nearly half the City Council seats up for grabs.

Mail-in ballots go out next week, while Election Day is set for June 7.

Three council members term out this year in districts 2, 6 and 8, and two will vie for re-election in districts 4 and 10. Nowhere have more contenders emerged than in District 6, one of the most politically engaged communities in San Jose, where Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio is riding out the last leg of a nine-year tenure.

Eight candidates want to replace him.

  • Labor-endorsed Erik Fong, a 35-year-old Apple manager and trustee of the Willow Glen Lions Club, raised nearly $44,000 for his campaign by last count, including a $20,000 personal loan.
  • Helen Chapman, 56, a retired researcher and parks advocate endorsed by labor and the Sierra Club, garnered roughly the same. Her campaign reports show a little more than $43,000 raised, $16,000 of which she loaned herself.
  • Dev Davis, a 37-year-old Stanford University researcher blessed by ex-Mayor Chuck Reed and the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, counted close to $52,000 in her war chest after a kicking over a $20,000 loan to her own campaign.
  • Thirty-eight-year-old Peter Allen, a political consultant and director of nonprofit Teatro Vision, claimed about $26,000 in donations and an endorsement from former Mayor Tom McEnery.
  • Mayor Sam Liccardo’s pick is 58-year-old Norm Kline, a former Saratoga mayor and San Jose planning commissioner. He gifted his campaign $20,000 of his own money to bring the total to a little more than $35,000.
  • Former Silicon Valley Bank paralegal Chris Roth, 35, sits on San Jose’s library and early education commission. He loaned himself $10,000 to bring his total to $29,000.
  • Myron Von Raesfeld, a 55-year-old real estate agent endorsed by the Realtor Association, raised $35,000 with a $20,000 personal loan.
  • Technology supervisor Ruben Navarro, 40, raised $9,000 to date, $6,000 of which came from a personal loan. He's the only candidate against the controversial Willow Glen Road diet.

Months ago, Oliverio began asking candidates how they would hypothetically vote on actual items discussed by the council each week. Some folks were miffed at the idea of the councilman doling out homework assignments. But most candidates have obliged. Those answers, for what they're worth, are available on the D6 website.

Coming up on May 11: a candidate forum on May 11 at at Westminster Presbyterian Church moderated by KQED reporter Beth Willon.

Residents can submit their own questions online for the final panel, which will be hosted by By Area News Group reporter Julia Baum and takes place on May 16 at Presentation High School.

Below is video of a D6 forum moderated by San Jose Inside’s own Josh Koehn. To read about it, here’s a summary of the event by Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold.

The other fields are decidedly smaller. In District 2, where Councilman Ash Kalra terms out, Sergio Jimenez, 39, holds the fundraising lead and support from the Sierra Club's Loma Prieta chapter. The investigator for the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office won support of labor and raised more than $30,000 by the end of March.

Lawyer Elias Portales, also 39, counted close to $20,000 in campaign donations. Retired sheriff’s sergeant Joe Lopez loaned himself $20,000 and raised only $1,600 beyond that. Meanwhile, Echelon Security owner Steve Brown loaned about half of the $19,000-plus in his campaign coffers.

District 4 is essentially a repeat of last year, when incumbent Manh Nguyen beat attorney Lan Diep in a special election to serve the rest of Kansen Chu’s council term after voters elected him to the state Assembly. Nguyen, 63, raked in nearly $35,000, only $1,000 of which he loaned himself. Diep, a 31-year-old Republican, raised roughly the same amount, $35,000, with a $2,000 personal loan.

Down in Evergreen’s District 8, five contenders have put their name in the race to replace lame-duck Vice Mayor Rose Herrera. One of Kalra’s policy aides, 32-year-old Joshua Barousse, won backing from the South Bay Labor Council and the Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters while raising nearly $37,000 for his campaign.

He’s running against four other candidates, including business-backed Republican and former Seagate Technology financial exec Pat Waite, 58, who pulled ahead in fundraising with close to $57,000, including a $20,000 personal loan.

Herrera has endorsed Denise Belisle, 61, who owns Evergreen Coffee Company and also claims support from the business community. To date, Belisle has culled $34,000 in campaign donations and a $10,000 personal loan. Thirty-eight-year-old attorney Jimmy Nguyen, who lost to Herrera in 2012 and has switched from labor to a more pro-business stance, tallied $23,000 in campaign cash, including $10,000 he loaned himself. Evergreen School District trustee Sylvia Arenas raised a touch over $11,000 and earned support from Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco.

In District 10, Councilman Johnny Khamis, 47, squares off against only one opponent, 59-year-old Michael Sodergren. The incumbent raised $46,000 and earned support from Mayor Liccardo and business groups.

Sodergren, a businessman born and raised in the South Bay, hasn’t raised any money and said he doesn’t plan to because he wants to make a point about the undue influence of money in politics.

This article has been updated.

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


  1. Why is Norm Kline running for SJ City Council, when it’s pretty obvious he hasn’t lived here very long and seems to have no connection with the community… Are the pay and benefits THAT good? I was at the D6 candidates forum at Dwell Christian Church and he didn’t even seem to know the difference from Highways 85 and 87.

    • Norm would like to 86 87, 85 and every other planet killing highway. We should all stay put in our tiny houses in our urban villages and use a community velocipede if we insist on going somewhere.

  2. Hi Tracy,
    Thanks for the question, and yes I certainly know the difference between Highways 85 and 87.

    Why am I a running? I think my experience and knowledge based on over 35 years in business, public policy and community non-profits can help the city make better policy decisions. That is why I have received the endorsement and trust of community leaders and groups such as Mayor Sam Liccardo, D.A. Jeff Rosen, the Santa Clara County Democratic Club, and the League of Conservation Voters.

    As for connection to San Jose, I’ve returned to my hometown San Jose ten years ago. I grew up in D6 and have lived most of my life in San Jose. I was a member and Chair of the San Jose Planning Commission, member and Chair of the Valley Medical Center Foundation, member of San Jose Rotary, member of the Board of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, and executive producer of the first feature length documentary of the history of San Jose called ‘Changing Boundaries: the History of San Jose.’ I also run a technology company in San Jose. That abbreviated list puts me well on the side of being ‘connected’ to San Jose. You can read more at http://www.normkline.com.

    Again thanks for the question. Norm

  3. How is this a break down of the race? The names and most simplified 2 adjective description of each candidate along with how much money they raised…What about their plans, issues, and experience? This is a horrible cut and paste job from the campaign fundraising article a few weeks back…Please people don’t make your decision based on this article look up each candidate their websites, faaceboos, google them, whatever. but this article is going to get you nowhere…

  4. The most important thing to SJI is to let people know who is labor endorsed and who is Liccardo endorsed. Its more biased base “reporting” … God help us if Dev Davis is elected! Have the people of WG not learned anything from Chuck Reed’s destructiveness? Also I would hope that ANYONE Rose Herrera endorses loses heavily. She has zero ethics and I trust her about as much as I trust Hillary Clinton!

    • Excellent point. Liccardo has endorsed Kline. So everybody stay away from Kline!!!! It will be a slam dunk Liccardo love fest and honestly I just can’t take Liccardo’s sh*t anymore. Please district 6 folks, NOT KLINE!

  5. Voters beware.

    Dev Davis is supported by Chuck Reed, Silcon Valley Chamber (big business) and Pete Constent.

    Her big plan for public safety is to hire more CSOs and technology.

  6. Thanks for posting the video of the D-6 candidates forum, but it was so boring I had to view it in five segments. Seven folks running, and they are barely distinguishable from each other based on their answers to most of the questions. They all spoke in platitudes about the need for this or that, but not a single one offered an actual solution to any problem. The 30 second final statement each gave involved them talking about why they ran, but not a single one actually asked those present to vote for him/her. Ms. Chapman seemed the most thoughtful/intelligent; but as a group, it was a study in blandness and mediocrity.

  7. The San Jose Chamber of Commerce PAC (ChamberPAC) sent an ugly mailer to district 2 residents this week claiming Sergio Jimenez was arrested multiple times for criminal offenses, served three years probation, and filed for bankruptcy. Why is the ChamberPAC so afraid of Mr. Jimenez to warrant such an vicious attack?

    • > claiming Sergio Jimenez was arrested multiple times for criminal offenses, served three years probation,

      The Chamber of Commerce would be crazy if they didn’t have the public records to back up their claims..

      Would the “criminal offenses” and associated “three years probation” suggest that felonies might have been committed?

      If Sergio Jimenez is an ex-felon, then isn’t he barred from seeking office?

      Someone has some ‘splainen to do.

      • The chamber of commerce is BEYOND dirty. Theyre all in Liccardos pocket. More San Jose small town politics.

        • Its not really claiming there were charges and arrests if there WERE actual charges and arrests. Mr Jimenez should explain it, apologize and try to move on. But to deny the reality by trying to say the chamber isn’t playing fair for point out truths he doesn’t want known isn’t a prudent move.

  8. Oh bubble, always up to your nonsense. He’s not an ex-felon, the dates on these are 20 years back when he was still a kid, the Chamber is desperate, so they are making a personal attack, because they would be fools to attack him on his issues or community work. They’re a bunch of cowards.
    I’m even surprised they are going negative right now – especially against two candidates that are both supportive of their sales tax measure. I thought it was a new way forward for labor and commerce… guess not, and now we know who pushed first.

    • > He’s not an ex-felon, the dates on these are 20 years back when he was still a kid,

      Just asking.

      Isn’t there some kind of “shield law” for youth offenders which allows or requires their juvenile justice records to be suppressed?

      This is all very much inside politics and someone is trying to say something or not say something to form a certain impression in voters minds while trying not to break somebody’s rules.

      • Thats why we’re gabbing about it on the Inside right?
        It’s just disappointing to see the tired old bs from the Chamber, but I think it’s cus they know the candidates they supported in D2 aren’t very viable or have their own troubles… though troubles that are a bit more recent… and from their professional career…


        Why not just stay ‘positive’ like they are for Dev in D6? Voters are sick of the negative crap, especially if its from so long ago. Not excusing the behavior, but trying to condemn someone for dumb stuff they did as a teenager or early 20’s is just very desperate.

  9. It is true. The Political PAC of the Chamber of Commerce unfortunately represents the utmost pitiful negative campaigning in San Jose.

  10. It should be noted that Dev Davis is supported by the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce PAC. Not to mention, Chuck Reed and Pete Constant.

    Her plan for public safety is to hire more Community Service Officers (CSO) and invest in technology.

  11. Yes as our detective bureau is gutted to nothing (no followup or investigating active leads for suspects) we will hire more CSO to give the illusion that “all is well” in Mayberry. The simpleton citizen will only have to wait 20-30 minutes for a CSO to come out and take their burglary, vandalism or auto theft report. How does that help crime? Well it doesnt. Without a fully staffed patrol for proactive enforcement and a detective bureau to conduct follow up and submit cases for prosecution, you have nothing. How long are San Jose residents going to keep their heads buried in the sand? The “san jose way” has ALWAYS been to do things cheap on the front end. Save as much as you can on critical infrastructure and resources, that way you can squander millions on goofy projects over and over and over. Does the Downtown Pavilion and the revamping of downtown ring a bell for anyone? Wake up people. These corrupt politicians are leading this city down the drain. There is no excuse to have decaying roads, broken sidewalks and property crime at the level it has reached. Complete incompetence and some of these people running for office want to carry on with more of the same policies and ideas.

  12. District 2 residents received a second ugly mailer from the San Jose Chamber of Commerce PAC (ChamberPAC) attacking Sergio Jimenez. This second mailer is a single page focusing only on Mr. Jimenez’s arrests. The Chamber is certainly afraid of Mr. Jimenez to stoop so low digging up 20 year old arrests. How about the Chamber move out of the gutter and tell residents what positions Mr. Jimenez holds that are so scary to the Chamber.

    • You’re asking for too much from the Chamber. They are engaging in ‘Trump’ style tactics.
      District 2 is the only district in our city without a defined ‘business district’ – so rather than engage the community and invest that money to help grow commerce, small-businesses and opportunity – they decided to waste over $50k on these petty attacks. …priorities

      • > You’re asking for too much from the Chamber. They are engaging in ‘Trump’ style tactics.

        You’re stretching to make a smear.

        There are an awful lot of people who think that “Trump” style tactics are a good thing and not a bad thing.

        Probably, the Chamber of Commerce and Trump have diametrically opposed positions on immigration.

    • Pat Waite is one of the most engaged candidates in D8. Yes he is personally successful but he also is big in giving to charity and even funding programs that actually help people (my friend’s child was able to attend Mitty under a program he funded and he is active at Catholic Charities which helps feed San Jose’s homeless, impoverished and elderly). Its absurd to say he thinks he can buy a seat on the council just because he has fundraised more than other candidates (pretty much the same amount minus his own money) especially since he didn’t start until January, all the other candidates already had money at the start of the year, he is very humble and hard working. Please remember he ran and lost 8 years ago against Herrera so he already knows how these things go…straight to the biggest endorsements that spend the most money – way more than a candidate can on their own and political friends of the existing power structures. (hello Denise Belisle)..he says no to negative endorsements and stands up with solutions to the auto pilot government powers that hurt San Jose

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