San Jose Councilmember Sergio Jimenez is starting a new venture as a realtor for Abitano Group at Compass — and he’s not the only Silicon Valley lawmaker moonlighting on the side.
Jimenez said he is a part-time realtor, and his “number one priority” is his work at City Hall.
“I have a deep obligation I take very seriously to the voters who elected me,” Jimenez told San José Spotlight. “And I plan to do that until the very last day I’m in office.”
Real estate is a second career for other local politicians. Former Councilmember Johnny Khamis works as a part-time public relations consultant for the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, and Councilmember Pam Foley runs Foley Mortgage with her husband Mike.
Jimenez jumped into real estate when he decided not to continue his career in public service.
“I’m starting my last term,” Jimenez said. “I need to think about my career in the future.”
Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran said he isn’t surprised Jimenez entered real estate, as he did the same.
“A lot of elected officials getting termed out are deciding whether to run for a higher office,” Tran said. “Some of us are saying we reached our dream to serve our city and aren’t going higher. We’re transitioning to the next chapter.”
Drawn to “social good real estate,” which gives back to nonprofits and helps those in need, Jimenez said he found a good fit with Abitano. The group adopted La Colina Park in District 2, donates bicycles to disadvantaged children and gives discounts to veterans.
Jimenez said Abitano founder Vito Scarnecchia inspired him to devise a business model in which he donates part of his commission to a nonprofit organization of his client’s choosing.
“I thought why not help nonprofits in East San Jose if someone in the community cares about helping them,” Jimenez said. “I’d willingly give some of my commission away to help.”
Jimenez said home ownership can be a game changer in building equity.
“I know there’s a tremendous amount of value in people owning a home,” he said. “That’s the way a lot of wealth is generated in our country. There’s a lot of that lacking in communities of color. Part of my interest is just in helping people live out that dream…and obviously making a living myself.”
Part of his mission is to educate residents in how they can qualify to purchase homes, such as a 3% downpayment program.
In his new job, Jimenez said he hopes to utilize his background as an immigrant, Spanish speaker and someone who is “living the American dream.”
“I became a citizen in 2008,” he said. “Owning a home and even being an elected official is just something we often don’t do as immigrants. Any wisdom I’ve garnered through the years to help people reach some of their dreams I think is very important.”
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]