The race for a City Council seat in East San Jose is shaping up to be a stacked contest. The latest political heavyweight to declare for the seat is educator Andres Quintero.
The Alum Rock Union School District trustee is the latest candidate running for the open District 5 seat, having filed papers this week.
“The city is not in an ideal situation, and I know I have the skills that are needed to be able to make a place that’s in trouble a better place, just like I’ve done in Alum Rock,” Quintero told San José Spotlight.
Quintero has served on the school board since 2012 after he was appointed to a vacant seat. He won election for a full term in 2014 and again in 2018. Quintero ran for state Assembly in 2016 for the seat now held by Assemblymember Ash Kalra. He placed fourth in the primary.
The incumbent District 5 councilmember, Magdalena Carrasco, terms out next year.
Quintero is no stranger to the Silicon Valley’s political scene: he served as San Jose Councilmember Maya Esparza’s chief of staff from 2019 to 2020, and had a stint as chair of the San Jose International Airport Commission.
“Andres Quintero is a man of his word. He’s dedicated to the East Side and he’s an innovative policymaker,” Minh Pham, trustee on the Alum Rock Union school board, told San José Spotlight. He applauded Quintero for pushing for a Vietnamese language dual immersion school in the district. “What sets him apart is a combination of policy expertise, but at the same time he’s rooted in the East San Jose community. He lives here, he understands the particular challenges. He knows what it takes to drive the economic recovery of the East Side. He’s the progressive candidate that gets things done.”
Quintero’s entry into the race changes the dynamics once more in District 5, and he’s already made his top priority clear. His campaign is about public safety: making sure break-ins in the district and petty crime are stopped.
“We need to expand on these models and have people who are properly trained to be partners with our public safety folks so they can address the issues others aren’t experts in,” Quintero said. “I don’t think it’s fair to ask a police officer to deal with every issue when they’re not experts in psychiatric social work or public health.”
According to a March report from the city auditor, the San Jose Police Department’s response time for violent crimes and homicides was seven minutes, a minute above its target time. For injury reports, property damage and missing people, it took San Jose police about 21 minutes to respond according to the report—more than double the target time of 11 minutes.
Also on Quintero’s list: addressing quality-of-life issues, such as the “massive amounts” of blight in the district, including trash and drug use at parks.
Quintero sits on the board of the Latino Leadership Alliance, a nonprofit that runs leadership academies for Latino leaders in business, government, education and nonprofits.
“I’ve been vetted by the public and I represent nearly the same boundaries (on the board) as District 5,” he said. “They’ve brought me back twice because they know the commitment I have toward my East San Jose community.”
Rumors swirled for months that Quintero would run for the seat.
He joins an already crowded field in what political analysts say will be one of 2022’s most competitive races. The declared candidates include Santa Clara County Board of Education trustee Peter Ortiz, Planning Commission Chair Rolando Bonilla, former Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce of Santa Clara Valley head H.G. Nguyen and former Councilwoman Nora Campos. Campos previously held the seat from 2001 to 2010 and was succeeded by her brother, Xavier.
The primary is set for June 7, 2022.