Sergio Lopez, 24, a self-described political strategist, announced his candidacy for the Campbell City Council’s District 2 seat in 2020, making him the first to declare his bid for the open seat. Carol Hoffman, a 57-year-old local businesswoman and vice chair for the town’s Civic Improvement Commission, became the second contender a short time later.
The is the first race since Campbell’s transition from at-large to district elections.
Previously, each council member represented the whole city instead of a particular area. In 2018, attorneys from law firm Shenkman and Hughes sent a letter to the city alleging that the at-large election system violates the California Voting Rights Act, which prohibits “racially polarized voting.”
The City Council officially established five council districts this summer.
Tackling the housing crisis is Lopez’s stated priority. “Our affordable housing numbers have really dropped off,” he tells San Jose Inside. “When I talk to people, they worry about where their kids are going to live. We can do better on affordable housing.”
Lopez was raised in a one-bedroom apartment after his family immigrated from Mexico. His father was a grocery clerk during the day and delivered newspapers at night while his mother took care of him at home.
Lopez has also set his sights on encouraging small business initiatives in Campbell. “Small mom-and-pop operations represented by the Campbell Chamber of Commerce are providing the most jobs in the area. That’s a big priority for me,” he says.
Lopez’s own family opened a restaurant after they saved up enough money. But the financial crisis hit in 2008, forcing his family to close down the business.
“It felt like the rug was pulled out from under,” Lopez says. “We had done everything right, but it wasn’t enough.”
Lopez touts the political experience he gained from his role as the national organizing director for Rise, a non-profit that advocates for the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights. He says he campaigned for California’s AB 1312, a bill that was authored by Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to reform sexual assault policies.
When it seemed that former Gov. Jerry Brown had his reservations about the plan, Lopez says he worked to get letters of support from Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo for the bill, which was signed into law in 2017.
Among Lopez’s endorsements so far: Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, Mountain View Councilwoman Ellen Kamei and Campbell Union High School District trustee Kalen Gallagher.
When reached by phone, Hoffman declined a chance to be interviewed.