With less than four months until Election Day, a new contender has jumped into the San Jose City Council race in District 4, joining two other candidates vying to unseat Councilmember Lan Diep.
Jamal Khan, 32, told San José Spotlight he is running for the council seat that covers Alviso, Berryessa and North San Jose because he believes he can improve the lives of residents in the district.
“I have some ideas about where I would like to see the district go and where I would like the city to go and that’s a big part of my motivation to run,” Khan said. “I think that any good officeholder should be able to communicate in a way that is both engaging and informative and that’s something I can bring to the table.”
Khan, who earned a law degree from Harvard University, completed multiple internships in the White House and worked on three political campaigns, including Kamala Harris’ Senate campaign in 2016, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s campaign in 2016, and more recently, Mayor Sam Liccardo’s re-election campaign in 2018.
“I’ve kind of done a bunch of different things, but the one thread that connects everything is that I’ve always been interested in public service,” he said. “Whether it’s serving a disadvantaged community or it’s doing something to advance the public interest through a government capacity.”
Because of his experience, Khan believes he can be an “advocate” for people in District 4, helping to advance what’s in their best interests and “guide the city in a positive direction.”
And while Khan acknowledges that it’s tough to beat an incumbent with name recognition, he says voters in the district have different ideological views from Diep, who recently left the Republican Party. Diep could not be reached for comment.
“I would try to be more responsive to the needs of the constituents in my district if I was a councilmember,” Khan said.
Khan joins two others hoping to unseat Diep: Berryessa Unified School District Trustee David Cohen and employment attorney Huy Tran.
Both Cohen and Tran said Khan jumping into the race doesn’t change their strategy.
“I’m approaching this campaign with the same priority of listening to and representing the voices of our neighborhoods,” Cohen said. “I will continue to work to earn every single vote in the district.”
“My campaign, from the beginning, has been very grassroots,” Tran told San José Spotlight, adding that his priority will be affordable housing. “We reach out directly to the people about decisions on who is going to represent them. The people who are suffering the most are the working families of San Jose.”
One of the key aspects of Khan’s campaign is also affordable housing.
“It’s an issue of greater concern that is much more visible now than it was when I was a kid,” he said. “I want to make sure that whatever new housing is built, is built in a way that is space efficient and that’s also located close to public transit so the supply of housing can go up.”
The District 4 City Council candidates will face off in the primary election on March 3.
Contact San José Spotlight intern Arianna Ramirez at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @ariaram98 on Twitter.