Former San Jose official running for supervisor—again
Former San Jose Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco said she is running for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors seat in District 2. File Photo.

    Another politico has tossed her hat into the race for the District 2 seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. 

    Former San Jose Vice Mayor and Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco, 56, plans to run for Supervisor Cindy Chavez’s seat. Chavez terms out at the end of 2024, but may vacate the seat early if she’s selected to take an executive role as San Diego County chief administrative officer. Betty Duong, chief of staff for Chavez, is also vying for the supervisor’s seat.

    Carrasco is not a newcomer in Silicon Valley politics. She represented District 5 in East San Jose on the City Council from 2015 to 2022, which included two years as vice mayor. Before that, she served as a board member for the East Side Union High School District from 2013 to 2014. She lost her bid to serve on the Santa Clara County Board of Education last November, as well as a run for county supervisor in 2020.

    “This is such a critical seat for the county,” Carrasco told San José Spotlight. “It needs someone with experience and someone with passion and a clear vision of the issues and how we can resolve them.”

    Carrasco said District 2 is the only seat where all the residents live in San Jose. It also has the highest poverty levels because it encompasses a large portion of east and downtown San Jose, she added, including council districts 2, 3, 5 and 7. After terming out of office, Carrasco worked for San Jose Councilmember Omar Torres as a senior advisor on policies related to homelessness and supportive services for vulnerable families. Torres once served as deputy chief of staff for Carrasco.

    “I’m very comfortable with the district and the makeup,” Carrasco said, noting she worked during the pandemic to ensure families received critical services. “I know the district very well. I know the constituents very well. These are my neighbors. I live in the district.”

    Carrasco’s goals for the board of supervisors include addressing issues of poverty, affordable housing and homelessness. She wants the county budget to focus on race and equity, which she said were among her greatest achievements on the city council. 

    “Our money needs to be spent in the most vulnerable areas. Our money needs to be invested in those areas where families have been at a disadvantage,” Carrasco said. That includes infrastructure, housing and education, she added. 

    Carrasco championed the city’s first Women’s Bill of Rights, initiated continuity of youth services and pushed to create offices for immigrant affairs and racial equity inside San Jose City Hall.

    Terry Christensen, political science professor emeritus at San Jose State University, said the race for the District 2 seat will be competitive. Other rumored candidates include former San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, Alum Rock Union School District trustee Corina Herrera-Loera and current San Jose Councilmember Sergio Jimenez.

    “Betty Duong is going to be a strong candidate,” Christensen told San José Spotlight. “It will be interesting to see where labor goes in this race. That will be an important constituency. Magdalena’s had labor endorsements in the past. Betty is closely associated with Cindy Chavez, so that makes her labor-friendly and we’ll see who else is going to be in the race.”

    Christensen said there could be antagonism between Vietnamese and Latino voters as there was during Chavez’s mayoral race against now-Mayor Matt Mahan. He said Vietnamese voters are more motivated and likely to turn out.

    He said while Carrasco is well known in the district, she’s lost other recent political races. That means she’ll have to campaign hard and raise a substantial amount of money to be competitive.

    As the county confronts a large number of vacancies, Carrasco said her biggest challenge will be hiring and retaining workers.

    “When you don’t have workers… that translates directly to the services that we’re either providing or failing to provide,” she said. “This is about people, so it’s alarming there hasn’t been a greater, more concerted and aggressive effort to not only fill those positions, but also make sure our employees feel appreciated.”

    Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]

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