If the remaining votes continue trending in his favor, 25-year-old political strategist Sergio Lopez will become the youngest person to serve on the Campbell City Council since now-Assemblyman Evan Low, who was 23 when elected in 2006.
Lopez, who ran against businesswoman and Civic Improvement Commissioner Carol Hoffman, leads by 205 votes for the District 2 seat, which represents the northeastern part of the city. “I feel great,” he said in a phone call. “We maintained a strong and steady lead and it’s clear that there’s a mandate for decisive action on supporting our small businesses and addressing our housing crisis in Campbell.”
Since Low left office in 2014 to pursue a seat in the state legislature, the Campbell council has been made up of white, older adults who tend to favor more conservative ideas.
The small South Bay city of 43,250 residents has a vibrant small business community and neighborhoods that largely consist of single-family homes.In in recent years, the town’s elected officials have erred on the side of slow growth and resisted policies that some state lawmakers argue would help California out of its housing crisis.
In July, the council’s legislative subcommittee—composed of Vice Mayor Liz Gibbons and Councilwoman Anne Bybee—opted to formally oppose Senate Bill 1120. Had it passed, the proposed law would have allowed Campbell to upzone single-family neighborhoods to make way for duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes.
Should Lopez retain his lead, the longtime Campbell resident—who called the bill “one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to build up our housing stock”—would be the council’s sole progressive, pro-housing-density voice.
The son of two immigrant parents from Mexico, Lopez was drawn to politics after his family lost their business and home in the 2008 financial crash. “I started reading every book or magazine article I could get my hands on about what had happened to us,” he said. “I realized we were a part of much larger forces and policy issues.”
As a high school student, Lopez got involved in local politics and started speaking out on issues important to him. “Policymakers would actually listen to that, and I found I could have a voice in my community,” he said.
After graduating from Yale University, Lopez returned to California, where he became a small business owner and an active participant in the local Democratic party. He also serves on the Campbell Historical Museum Foundation board.
Once he’s sworn into office in January, Lopez plans to focus on supporting other small businesses, the economic recovery related to the Covid-19 pandemic and incentivizing affordable housing in Campbell.
“Our small businesses are struggling and our housing crisis is only getting worse,” he said. “I’m ready to get to work on these issues. I ran because I knew I was ready to do the job. ... I had a story and perspective and skills that were missing from the discussion and I can raise up the voices of many communities being left out.”
While on the campaign trail, Lopez said he built a diverse coalition, including seniors, community college students and Republicans. And although he may be the D2 representative, he said he plans to work for all Campbell residents.
“There is so much more we can do to be inclusive,” Lopez said.