Bob Brunton’s campaign message is printed on his transparent face shield — a symbol of his willingness to speak with people face-to-face, including and especially those who belong to the opposing Democratic party.
“Most of these issues aren’t really Republican-Democrat,” said Brunton, a Republican who is running to represent District 25 in the California Assembly. “I’m laser-focused on solutions and not the politics.”
Called the “perennial candidate” for District 25, Brunton ran for the same seat in 2018, 2016 and 2014. He lost each time. But this year, Brunton placed on top in the March primary, collecting 20.8 percent of the vote among nine candidates. He faces off against Democrat Alex Lee on Nov. 3.
The district covers roughly half of Fremont, where Brunton lives, as well as Milpitas, Santa Clara and the northernmost end of San Jose.
The state’s divided politics, Brunton said, get in the way of real solutions to the area’s biggest problems.
Brunton is the owner of Telesis, an electronics manufacturing sales firm, and is a certified financial planner. Brunton said his private-sector experience makes him the kind of person he would want to vote for: someone who understands the challenges and needs of business owners.
Brunton said he’s not the type to talk the talk without walking the walk, a common complaint of politicians by their constituents.
“With Bob Brunton, you can count on a level of confidence, a level of consideration,” Brunton said. “If I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it for you.”
Brunton said his top three priorities are education, mass transit and civil justice reform, the latter of which includes expanding the amount of money that can be disputed in small claims court. Brunton would increase the limit from $5,000 to $50,000.
Making an impression
Ty Greaves, chair of the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds board and a leader of the county’s Republican party for District 3, met Brunton roughly eight years ago through business and party functions.
Greaves and Brunton also both attend the Christ Community Church in Milpitas, where Greaves said the candidate made an unusual impression on him. Greaves observed Brunton chatting up strangers in the church’s coffee shop, sitting down at their table and asking them questions about politics, religion and their personal lives.
“(He has) willingness to be in a conversation, and seek it out,” Greaves said. “Not be constrained by norms that sometimes cause us to not engage with strangers.”
Greaves said Brunton is an out-of-the-box thinker whose entrepreneurial nature gives him the ability to have these conversations, and to adapt and persist to achieve a higher goal. As an entrepreneur, Brunton “can’t afford to be an ideologue,” Greaves said.
“He’s had to adapt himself to the situations on the ground,” Greaves said. “If you have a goal — let’s say improving educational outcomes for students in California — there’s a bazillion ways of doing that… Let’s take this little, bitty piece that we can all agree on and do it.”
Greaves said he’s inspired by Brunton’s commitment to improving the state’s educational system, which is part of why Brunton is so intent on running for State Assembly. Brunton was a trustee on the Ohlone Community College District board for 12 years, experience which acquainted Brunton with the nuts-and-bolts operation of the educational system, Greaves said.
Brunton’s campaign raised $3,035 between Jan. 1 and Sept. 19 yet spent $6,890, according to campaign finance records.
Brunton said he’s open to receiving endorsements but only if his supporters are willing to talk to his opponent.
“The job skills of getting elected are different from the job skills of governing,” Brunton said. “How many times have we purchased a product that had fancy advertising and realized it’s just not there?”
IN HIS OWN WORDS
“What’s the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?”
AT A GLANCE
Name: Bob Brunton
Family: Wife, two adult children, one granddaughter, one dog
Political affiliation: Republican
Education: B.S. in Finance from Colorado State University
Profession: Owner of Telesis, an electronics manufacturing sales firm; certified financial planner
Current or previous elected or appointed positions: Served as trustee on the Ohlone Community College District board for 12 years
Top 3 priorities: Education, mass transit and civil justice reform
Top 3 endorsements: No endorsements
Special talent: Ability to “see through the bull” and translate complex subjects into simpler terms
In one sentence, why vote for you? “I have the desire, skill sets and temperament to improve our state government.”
Contact Sonya Herrera at [email protected] or follow @SMHsoftware on Twitter.