Endorsement: Sylvia Arenas for San Jose City Council District 8

Evergreen and Alum Rock voters basically ghosted the institutional powers in the District 8 primary election, as neither the Chamber of Commerce’s preferred candidate (Denise Belisle) nor the South Bay Labor Council endorsee (Josh Barousse) finished in the top two. Instead, Sylvia Arenas and Jimmy Nguyen finished first and second, respectively, in a tight five-way race. What makes their fall runoff so intriguing is that both candidates were encouraged to run by active council members hoping to acquire allies.

Arenas has the backing of District 5’s Magdalena Carrasco, who mentored her fellow Latina for several months as an unpaid council intern after the pair worked together in the nonprofit sector. A two-year Evergreen Elementary School District board member, Arenas also has a master’s degree in public administration and has shown a sustained commitment to her community for more than two decades. She lands squarely on the side of labor Democrats on most issues (minimum wage, Measure E and Measure F), but she has yet to receive the endorsement of the South Bay Labor Council. That’s actually a good thing.

Arenas breaks from the ranks of lapdogs who continue to kowtow to the Campos Clan, who have done so little for the East Side over the course of nearly two decades.

Nguyen had his own recruiter in District 4’s Manh Nguyen (no relation), who lost a nailbiter primary to Lan Diep and is contesting the results in court. Manh had hoped to create a three-person coalition along with District 7’s Tam Nguyen (again, no relation) that could give the Vietnamese community an unprecedented bloc of representation. That could still happen if Jimmy prevails, but we have concerns about his allegiances. Unlike four years ago, when Jimmy lost a close race to incumbent Rose Herrera and had the SBLC and San Jose Police Officers’ Association’s backing, he’s now riding shotgun with the Chamber. (Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Nguyen is an outspoken Republican. While his views align with many conservative positions, he is a registered Democrat. San Jose Inside regrets the error.)

Jimmy, an attorney, suggests his views remain consistent, and that his stance against Measure B pension reforms was based on the legality, similar to outgoing Councilman Ash Kalra’s position. This is hard to reconcile.

Sylvia Arenas presents a better option for all of District 8’s voters.

San Jose Inside will be publishing endorsements and information on local races, ballot measures and state propositions throughout the rest of the week.


  1. Arenas gets the bulk of her money from Los Angeles politicians and Indian Gaming Associates of Kevin deLeon. That is not kowtowing?

  2. The court agrees with Jimmy Nguyen’s position on questioning the legality of Measure B. Current mayor Sam Liccardo and virtually all the council members are supporting the revised Measure B to undo the old Measure B; all of which is based on the court ruling that agrees with Jimmy Nguyen’s position. Yet, you still have a hard time reconcile? Seriously, what is wrong with you?

    Secondly, SBLC did not endorse Jimmy four years ago. They attacked Rose Hererra because they didn’t like her. This is a critical distinction.

    BTW, Jimmy is a Democrat. How can you get something so basic wrong?

  3. I find it hard to believe voters “ghosted the institutional powers” in nominating Sylvia Arenas as one of the two candidates for District 8. Look no further than this piece, written in April on Sylvia’s ties to a Sacramento politician:


    And not just any politician; California’s Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, the state’s third most powerful politician. This should have been an immediate warning sign for voters when the election was kicking into high gear earlier this year. The California representative created an independent expenditure group for Sylvia — “Community Alliance for a Better San Jose Supporting Sylvia Arenas for City Council 2016″ — raising money from statewide donors and purchasing things like mailers for her D8 campaign. All of the filings are available on the San Jose City Clerk’s official website HERE: http://nf4.netfile.com/pub2/(X(1)S(so5c0xowfsdum142knhtjfhe))/AllFilingsByIndependentExpenditures.aspx?id=154308844

    As voters invested in the betterment of our community, we owe it to ourselves to understand who is being elected to local office, and how they’re getting there. While Sylvia’s work in the school districts and her own neighborhoods is commendable, her campaign has been completely devoid of transparency. Where are the lawn signs, the local appearances, social media campaigns? Nothing about this race is traditional. And Sylvia’s connection to Magdalena, which is referenced in this piece, only raises further questions; did Magdalena encourage or press de Leon to drum up support for Sylvia?

    It sure looks like it; filings from Sylvia’s own campaign fundraising arm, “Neighbors for Sylvia Arenas for D8 City Council 2016,” show donations from politicians, lobbyists, and powerful business people hailing from the Los Angeles and Sacramento areas (http://nf4.netfile.com/pub2/(X(1)S(so5c0xowfsdum142knhtjfhe))/AllFilingsByCandidate.aspx?id=158260904&candidate=Sylvia+Arenas). Sure, Sylvia earned the support of local labor unions and politicians like Magdalena, but why did so much of her money come from outside interests and powerful figures?

    It’s all strange, and I encourage everyone to look into this themselves. Sylvia sure seems like a product of the same institutional powers you claim voters “ghosted.”

  4. Nora Campos worked hard for her District. Unfortunately, we have people in power who disliked her because she was for the working class. This article should focus on who is running and not Nora Campos. Neither of the candidates running will be independent and that is why this city is a mess. It is all about corporations and businesses and how much money will come their way.

    • > It is all about corporations and businesses and how much money will come their way.


      It it weren’t for corporations and businesses TRYING to arrange for money to come their way, we would all be foraging in the forest looking for roots and berries and maybe trying to club a possum to make a meal. AND, there would only be about 20 million of us on planet earth instead of seven billion.

      Personally, I’m against mass starvation of humanity.

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