Diep concedes San Jose City Council race, Cohen names transition team
David Cohen is seen speaking with District 4 voters in this file photo. Photo courtesy of David Cohen.

San Jose City Council candidate David Cohen over the weekend declared victory over Councilmember Lan Diep in the nail-biter District 4 race.

Cohen on Nov. 9 also started naming his transition team, which met over the weekend to begin building a staff and preparing to take over the council office in January.

The race was neck-and-neck as ballots came in Nov. 3. With 83% of the ballots counted as of Sunday, Cohen said he felt confident in declaring his victory over the one-term Diep, to soon represent Alviso, North San Jose and Berryessa.

Cohen now leads Diep by 919 votes, widening his lead with the updated election results since Election Day.

“I can now confidently say that we won our election for City Council in District 4,” Cohen tweeted Nov. 8. “I convened the first meeting of my transition team yesterday so I will be ready to serve starting Jan. 1… This victory was a team effort.”

Diep conceded the race in a tweet Tuesday, one week after Election Day. He tweeted that he called Cohen to congratulate him on the win and offer to help with his transition into office.

“With each vote update from the ROV, it becomes clearer that the majority of voters have elected David Cohen to represent them these next four years on the City Council,” Diep said in a statement. “I thank my family, friends, supporters, and the nearly half of District 4 voters who stood by me and invested their energy, time, and money into our shared vision. I congratulate Councilmember-Elect Cohen on his victory and join his supporters in wishing him a successful tenure.”

 

This week, Cohen also announced members of his transition team. Stacey Brown, a trustee on the Campbell Union High School Board and small business owner, will chair the team.

Also helping lead his team are San Jose Planning Commission Vice Chair Rolando Bonilla, Johnson Tran, Cohen’s former campaign manager and District 4 resident, and Helen Chapman, a longtime city leader and policy advisor to Councilmember Sergio Jimenez.

Chapman said Cohen is focused, policy-oriented and cares deeply about the district.

“He’s very anxious to get up to speed which I think benefits the residents of District 4,” Chapman told San José Spotlight. “The people on his team are well qualified and a lot of them understand City Hall and are ready to help him get up and running so he doesn’t miss a beat.”

Cohen announced his transition team in a video on Facebook.

“I’ve met so many of you and had a great time connecting with the residents of our district and I appreciate all the work you did helping me get elected,” he said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to represent your voices on the San Jose City Council.”

Cohen said he was grateful the results showcased that the money spent against his campaign was for naught.

San José Spotlight previously reported on the campaign contributions for Diep from organizations such as the Silicon Valley Organization and the California Apartment Association, estimated at $974,062 as of Oct. 27.

“With all the money that was spent against our campaign, we didn’t expect to have a huge margin … it feels good to know that all that money was not enough to win the election,” Cohen told San José Spotlight.

Diep narrowly won his seat in 2016 with a mere 31 votes, unseating one-term Councilman Manh Nguyen. The fight for the seat dragged on as multiple recounts ensued. Diep, who was a reliable vote for Mayor Sam Liccardo’s slim 6-5 majority, faced scrutiny this year after former employees said he used city resources to help his re-election campaign. Diep denied any wrongdoing.

Diep also was denounced by local Democrats for changing his party affiliation to Democrat after being a registered Republican for years.

Cohen said he will continue creating the right transition team and work as a voice in the neighborhoods on the ground level to solve local issues.

“The first thing that our constituents have been telling us throughout this campaign is to focus on what’s going on right in their streets, right in their neighborhoods,” he said.

Contact Grace Stetson at [email protected] and follow her @grace_m_stetson on Twitter.

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