Local engineer and teacher Kevin Park is the latest candidate running for a seat on the Santa Clara City Council.
Living in Santa Clara for the last 20 years, he said he’s prepared to tackle difficult finance and housing issues, especially amid the ongoing pandemic, but he also wants to help realize a new downtown that defines the city through community investment.
Park said he hopes to rekindle relationships with longtime residents and spark involvement with new generations to create a holistic view of every part of the Mission City, especially as City Council decisions have far-reaching impacts during a time of uncertainty.
“My platform has always been democracy – more people, more voices, community vision and integrity,” Park told San José Spotlight. “I’m not there to make for Kevin Park, I’m there for Santa Clara.”
This isn’t Park’s first stint with city government, previously serving on the General Plan Steering Committee, Citizens Advisory Committee and executive board of the Sister Cities Association. He also unsuccessfully ran for City Council twice before.
This year he is running to represent District 4 – bound between El Camino Real and Pruneridge Avenue – and in November will face off against John Frazzini and longtime Councilmember Teresa O’Neill, the incumbent who is hoping to be reelected for an unprecedented third consecutive term, after members’ tenure was reset in recent years.
Park hopes to bring cooperation and collaboration if elected to the council, especially having previously worked alongside many city leaders, including Police Chief Pat Nikolai and Councilmembers Kathy Watanabe and Raj Chahal.
Instead of continuing the polarization between two factions that exists during meetings, he said he’s a team player who would work to solicit expertise, experiences and opinions directly from residents – through efforts like committees, workshops or conversations – as opposed to solely through his own personal knowledge and decision making.
“We have this ‘mother knows best’ policy when it comes to the City Council dealing with city issues, and it didn’t work well with Rapunzel and it doesn’t seem to be working well for the city either,” Park said. “You (should) always state the problem, describe it as you see it, and hopefully there are people who know better than you that will be able to interpret it better.”
The 50-year-old engineer said he sees teamwork as the solution for issues as simple as accessible bike paths, but also as a way to repair strained relationships across the city, too, with organizations like the Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce, the Convention Center Visitors Bureau and the San Francisco 49ers.
“I am fighting for all of these things so that my daughter, my wife, my neighbors, my friends will have a good place to live,” Park said. “My desire does not come from if I’m a city councilor or not, but I do require that we make good city decisions. If nobody else is going to step up, as my father said, ‘If you need you need something done and nobody else is around, it’s you.’”