Incumbent District 4 Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg has spent the last three years championing issues on children, mental health, public safety reforms and economic recovery. Now she hopes to build on the momentum as she runs for reelection—unopposed.
Ellenberg, 55, was first elected in 2019, defeating six other candidates to replace termed-out Supervisor Ken Yeager. She served as board president for the San Jose Unified School District from 2014 to 2018, and also spent six years as a social responsibility and social justice teacher at Yavneh Day School in San Jose.
She said her students inspired her to jump into politics. Her classes examined different socio-economic challenges and racial inequalities in Santa Clara County.
“That was a really eye opening opportunity for me—as well as for my students—to really understand this community a lot more deeply,” Ellenberg told San José Spotlight. “I have found this career in public service to be extraordinarily rewarding, primarily because I feel useful every day.”
As District 4 supervisor, Ellenberg represents more than 400,000 residents in West San Jose, the cities of Campbell and Santa Clara and the unincorporated community of Burbank. She’s raised approximately $120,000 for her reelection, campaign filings show.
Championing families, community
Ellenberg serves on county committees for public safety and children and families. She’s also the chair of the FIRST 5 Santa Clara County Commission and sits on the boards of Joint Venture Silicon Valley and Silicon Valley Clean Energy.
During her first term, Ellenberg worked with other elected officials to bring attention—and potentially solutions—to the mental health and substance abuse crisis in the county. She pushed for the county to collect community feedback for alternatives to incarceration—work she plans to build on with a year-long workgroup to develop a multi-prong approach on public safety reforms.
Ellenberg also spearheaded an effort to reduce unhoused families on the county’s streets, developed child care benefits for more than 24,000 county employees and bridged the digital gap for students in her district during the early days of the pandemic.
“I have always focused my policy on children,” Ellenberg said.
The supervisor said her priorities for the next term include more programs for child care and more mental health services through investing in the health care workforce and facilities. She also calls for more environmental sustainability policies to protect creeks and plant more trees.
Supervisor Otto Lee, who also worked to refocus the county’s budget toward mental health and substance abuse programs, said Ellenberg is a true public servant to her constituents.
“She’s hard working, determined and always come prepared,” Lee told San José Spotlight, adding he’s not surprised she’s running unopposed. “She’s very methodical and very strategic in the way she gets things done.”
Yeager, Ellenberg’s predecessor and a San Jose State University political science professor, said the supervisor has done a good job listening and connecting with her constituents.
“She has a great deal of support in the district,” Yeager told San José Spotlight, adding incumbent supervisors don’t often have challengers. “She started raising money early and sending out the signal that she was going to fight as hard as she could to win reelection.”
Walter Wilson, CEO of the Silicon Valley Minority Business Consortium, has also worked closely with Ellenberg on initiatives to reform public safety and jail management in the county.
“People’s voices have been muffled over the years about the jail, and she has created a platform so that those voices can be heard,” Wilson told San José Spotlight. “She’s a rock star. Her leadership is the type of leadership we need to bring this valley together.”
With a long list of achievements, Ellenberg has secured a hefty roster of support from local leaders and state policymakers, including Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and Congressmembers Anna Eshoo, Ro Khanna, Adam Schiff and Zoe Lofgren. She also has the support of all of her colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, as well as all the councilmembers in San Jose, Santa Clara and Campbell.
“Those are all of the areas that I represent,” Ellenberg told San José Spotlight. “I view that as a stamp of approval for my work and an acknowledgement that I am paying attention to all parts of my district. Nobody is being left behind.”
The primary election is June 7.
Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.
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