Kansen Chu sent local pols scrambling to rethink their 2020 plans when he opened up about his decision to eschew another term in the Assembly to run for Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese’s seat.
A few days later, Santa Clara County Board of Education trustee Anna Song, 51, went public with her ambitions to replace him in AD 25, which spans parts of the Tri-Valley and South Bay. And on Monday, longtime Santa Clara Unified trustee Jim Canova, 60, broke the news to Fly that he’ll run against her for the open seat.
“I’ve never been interested in City Council or the Board of Supervisors, or any of those positions,” says Canova, who’s served consecutive terms on the Santa Clara K-12 school board since 1993. “My heart and soul are in education, and I think the Assembly is a great place to continue working on that.”
As a schools trustee and appointed member of the MetroEd governing board, a joint powers agency that runs career-tech education for six South Bay school districts, Canova says he’s become “quite effective” in getting grant money out of Sacramento for cash-strapped vocational training programs. In the Assembly, he says he can pick up wherever he leaves off when his term comes to a close next year.
“Career tech is such an important issue because, as we know, it’s so hard to live in this valley,” he says,” and we’ve got students coming out of these programs making six figures, so this is another way to tackle affordability, the skills gap, and so many of these quality-of-life issues we’re dealing with.”
Chu’s quality of life could improve if he wins the county seat, which comes with a sizable pay bump and none of the obligations to pay for a home away from home in the capital. Not as much for District 5 Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco, a fellow supervisorial contender now competing against Chu—who established himself as a reliable labor vote during his tenure as San Jose’s D4 rep—for union backing.
It’ll be tough going for the East Side councilor, who won her seat with support from business and later broke away to align herself with labor. Chu, on the other hand, has remained labor loyal and boasts the advantages of broader name recognition as a state lawmaker and $600,000 already socked away in his campaign coffers.
Those long odds may be enough to prompt one or two of the other candidates vying for Cortese’s seat to drop out altogether. But for the time being, at least, the race pits Carrasco and Chu against Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran, former Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee and San Jose Planning Commissioner John Leyba.