David Cohen touts community roots in San Jose council campaign
San Jose City Council candidate David Cohen is pictured in this file photo.

    David Cohen’s campaign for San Jose City Council is focused on his deep roots in the neighborhoods he hopes to represent, his two decades of public service and his passionate vision for the future of District 4.

    “As a resident of this district, I’ve always felt it was important to think about the community in the long term — having a vision for what it will be,” Cohen told San José Spotlight after a day of door-knocking session while he posted lawn signs in Berryessa.

    “I’m talking about building neighborhoods with libraries, parks, community centers, schools, daycare, shopping and other resources, so people don’t just sleep there and leave, but have a place to come home to live,” Cohen continued. “We talk about the city of the future where you don’t need a car and we’re building along the light-rail corridor so people can take it to work and home again, but they need to get in their car to pick their kids up, or go shopping and to their recreation and entertainment destinations.”

    Cohen, 51, moved to the city after finishing his doctorate in chemical engineering at UC Berkeley in the late 1990s. He was appointed to the San Jose Public Library Commission in 2000, and started a family with his wife a few years later. They have two teenagers, a daughter and a son. Cohen was elected a Berryessa Union School Board Trustee in 2006 and has been re-elected three times.

    Councilmember Lan Diep currently represents District 4 which includes Berryessa, Alviso and North San Jose. In addition to Diep, Cohen is running against employment attorney Huy Tran and Jamal Khan, a former finance and data director for Mayor Sam Liccardo’s re-election.

    According to recent financial disclosures, Cohen has raised more than $67,000 for his campaign.

    Solutions for homelessness

    If he’s elected to the City Council, Cohen says “developing compassionate, practical solutions to homelessness” will be one of his top priorities.

    Cohen believes the city needs more sanctioned places for its homeless population to live. He expressed disappointment that the city was supposed to build 10 villages for transient housing but ended up with just two sites because of community backlash.

    In the long term, Cohen says the city needs social workers “out in the streets assessing needs and developing targeted solutions to meet them,” because while mental health and addiction may be contributing factors for some homeless people — those issues are not isolated to the homeless community and don’t represent the range of social problems experienced by that population.

    His lengthy school board experience also gives his prominent supporters confidence he can be both a “policy wonk” and a responsible steward of the city’s $4 billion budget.

    “Having known David for a long time, I know he has an understanding of how budgets work and that’s not a qualification that people give enough consideration,” said Sen. Jim Beall, who has endorsed Cohen. “Making statements on what you believe on the issues without saying where the money is coming from is not much good, and I think David has a strong financial skill set.”

    Contact Adam F. Hutton at [email protected] or follow @adamfhutton on Twitter.

    Name: David Cohen
    Age: 51
    Family: Married, with two children
    Political affiliation: Democrat;
    Education: Bachelor’s degree Cornell University, PhD in chemical engineering UC Berkeley
    Profession: Engineering Manager, Research and Development
    Current and previous elected or appointed positions: Berryessa Union School Board Trustee, 2006 to present, San José Public Library Commission 2000 to 2006
    Top 3 priorities: Investing in safer, greener, cleaner neighborhoods. Increasing affordable housing for all income levels. Developing compassionate, practical solutions to homelessness.
    Top 3 endorsements: California Controller Betty Yee, California Sens. Jim Beall and Bob Wieckowski and Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg
    Special talent: Plays piano, took lessons and played in recitals as a kid. Now, he like to play Elton John and Billy Joel.
    In one sentence, why vote for you? “I believe that of all elected positions in government the city council requires the most direct ties to the community — I’m the only candidate who has lived here for 22 years, raised a family in this district, served on a local school board — someone who knows all of the neighborhoods in the district, and has worked on a variety of issues in this community, I think it is important to have a true advocate who knows the district deeply.”

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