Five candidates with various elected office experience are fighting to represent a California Assembly district with the largest Asian voting bloc in the state.
Assembly District 24 includes Milpitas, Fremont, Newark and the Berryessa area in North San Jose. The new district boundaries were adopted through a redistricting process that happens once a decade. Roughly 53.81% of voters in the newly formed district are Asian American.
Assemblymember Alex Lee, who won the Assembly District 25 seat in 2020, is running for the same job in a new district. He’s facing four other candidates—all of whom have been elected to public office at least one.
Here are the five candidates in alphabetical order.
The only Republican candidate in the race, Bob Brunton calls himself a common sense candidate.
“Bob Brunton is an accountability candidate,” he told San José Spotlight. “I hope to be part of the problem solvers caucus in Sacramento.”
Brunton, 64, served as a trustee at the Ohlone College board of trustees for 12 years. He also owns and operates several businesses in electronics, manufacturing, financial wealth management and architectural services for the last 30 years. He has run for an Assembly seat several times since 2012.
Brunton wants to increase trust in government through more accountability measures and auditing and explore new ways to alleviate debt for college students. He wants to consolidate the 24 mass transit boards and restructure small claim courts to allow for more arbitration or the use of a public defender. He wants to lower sale taxes to support California manufacturers and increase transparency in how gas is being taxed.
If elected, Brunton plans to host routine community forums to educate constituents on issues and possible solutions.
The last candidate to jump in the race, Brunton hasn’t report any campaign contributions. He is endorsed by the Santa Clara County Republican Party.
“This is a two year deal,” Brunton said. “This is our chance to open up the books and ask the tough questions.”
Berryessa Union School District board member Kansen Chu is running to build on the work he started eight years ago.
Chu, 69, has been a politico in the South Bay for decades. Chu served as the assemblymember for District 25 between 2014 and 2020. He was first elected to the Berryessa school board in 2001 and served as San Jose councilmember from 2007 to 2014. Chu returned to the Berryessa school board last year after a failed Santa Clara County supervisor campaign.
“I have and will always make myself very accessible to the people,” Chu told San José Spotlight.
Chu, a Democratic candidate, wants to address public safety through prevention and intervention measures such as education, mental health programs and job training. He wants to develop an equitable way to distribute funding to address the homeless crisis across the state and return local control to cities and counties.
With transportation, Chu calls for the completion of the light rail system in Eastridge and progress in bringing BART to downtown San Jose. He also wants to explore the possibility of connecting the 880 and 680 interstates along Mission Boulevard to address congestion.
Chu has raised $305,823, according to his latest campaign fillings. He has scored endorsements from Fremont Councilmembers Teresa Cox, Rick Jones, Raj Salwan and Yang Shao, all five councilmembers in Newark, Milpitas Councilmembers Evelyn Chua and Carmen Montano, and Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran.
“I have experiences that deliver,” Chu said. “I don’t make false promises.”
Former San Jose Councilmember Lan Diep didn’t respond to inquiries from San José Spotlight.
Diep was elected to the City Council in 2016 and lost his seat after one term. He wants to address various issues including public safety, housing affordability, health care, among others, according to his website.
Diep, a Democratic candidate, has raised $5,000 so far, according to his latest campaign fillings. It’s unclear whether he has secured any endorsements.
Fremont Councilmember Teresa Keng has a plan to support local businesses and ensure quality education in the district.
Keng, 46, was first elected to the Fremont City Council in 2018. She’s also a business owner and a mother of two children with disabilities—experiences that Keng said equips her to serve as an assemblymember.
“I understand, in the real world way, the difficulties facing so many in our community and I have insight on how we can be more resilient in the future,” Keng told San José Spotlight.
Keng wants to see rent relief programs for small businesses and resources such as mediators to help resolve issues between businesses and landlords. She also wants to address crimes targeting the Asian community through more funding in public safety.
With education, Keng is calling for an expansion on STEM programs, vocational education and remedial programs to help students who have fallen behind due to the pandemic. Keng, who supported the full funding of the Fremont Police Department, said she opposes the early release program.
Keng has raised $257,082 so far, her finance records show. She has scored the support of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Santa Clara Councilmembers Kevin Park, Kathy Watanabe, and Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor, among others.
“I have an open door policy,” Keng said. “I am a practical and pragmatic problem solver.”
Incumbent Assemblymember Alex Lee wants to keep serving his constituents, addressing the housing crisis and helping the district navigate through the endemic phase of COVID-19.
Lee, 26, is the youngest and first openly bisexual member of the California State Assembly. He won the Assembly District 25 race in 2020 to represent Santa Clara, Alviso, Northern San Jose and parts of Fremont. The new boundaries push Lee into District 24.
“I hope that voters will continue to support me because I want to continue the work that we have started,” Lee told San José Spotlight.
As a Democratic assemblymember, Lee has championed progressive values and helped introduce or push through a number of bills—including the single-payer health care legislation and a bill to limit and regulate the use of force by law enforcement.
Lee calls for measures that would build, preserve and protect affordable housing. He said he supports local rules such as the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act, which would require rental property owners to offer first rights on a sale to tenants or a qualified nonprofit before putting it on the market. Lee also wants to look at inclusive and safe ways to help families, students and businesses rebound from the pandemic, pointing to state’s failures that left many communities behind in the rent relief programs.
Lee is leading the fundraising efforts with $543,846, campaign finance records show. Lee doesn’t take contributions from corporations. He has the support of Congressmembers Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo and Jimmy Panetta, state Sens. Bob Wieckowski and Dave Cortese, and Assemblymembers Ash Kalra, Evan Low and Marc Berman, among others.
“Voters will see very clearly that I have the experience and the tenacity and commitment to keep serving people,” Lee said. “We’re not beholden to corporates, we’re accountable to the people of my district.”
Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.
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