After years of local activism and community engagement, Jenny Higgins Bradanini wants to bring her experience to the San Jose City Council.
The Bay Area Women’s March founder, San Jose Unified School District Volunteer of the Year and March for Our Lives youth mentor hopes to fill the District 10 seat that will be vacated by Councilmember Johnny Khamis at the end of the year.
If elected, the 56-year-old candidate said she will have a hands-on focus on homelessness, the housing crisis and public safety. But no matter what issues she’ll tackle, she said she has the moral imperative to keep the health of the environment weaved into all of her decisions.
“I think that when you’re looking over a whole concept, everything should be measured on how it’s affecting our environment moving forward,” Higgins Bradanini said. “We haven’t done that for too long, and too often it’s an afterthought.”
Even after her December car crash, which killed 66-year-old resident Tim Starkey, Higgins Bradanini said she decided to continue her campaign and passion for public service to accomplish these goals. Holding back tears at a recent candidate forum, Higgins Bradanini said she laments for the family and asked for support and prayers for all involved. The collision is under investigation, according to Los Gatos Monte Sereno police officials and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.
Higgins Bradanini said her leadership style would differ from that of Khamis — who’s been on the council since 2012 — by being more proactive on issues that might not necessarily be the city’s responsibility, such as alleviating homelessness.
She said the city needs to treat the crisis with a greater sense of urgency by getting involved in setting up navigation centers and shelters, especially for domestic abuse victims and people formerly in foster care.
“It is the county’s responsibility to provide services, but it’s our first responders, parks, businesses and services that the homeless are interacting with,” Higgins Bradanini said. “Whether or not it is our responsibility, these things are happening in our community and we need to be proactive with our policy and do something about it.”
But she does see similarities to Khamis with how directly he’s involved with his constituents. Higgins Bradanini has spent decades interacting with the community at neighborhood events and politically organizing thousands of residents.
That experience is one reason why Assemblymember Ash Kalra supports Higgins Bradanini’s run. He said her perspective will be a “breath of fresh air” compared to the seat’s recent conservative leadership.
“With Jenny, I think that we get to actually bring the district’s representation into the 21st century, which empowers workers and empowers women to take ownership over decisions made for them by the city,” Kalra told San José Spotlight. “The divide that exists on the council has oftentimes left the voice of the workers and those who are struggling with the most egregious income inequality in the nation without a majority to speak up for them.”
That’s exactly what Higgins Bradanini, who also worked for San Jose Councilmember Don Rocha in 2018, intends to fix. But, she added, she isn’t a part of the political machine — a perspective she thinks is needed in San Jose.
“This is a local position. It should be (held by) people from the community. We’re representing the community,” Higgins Bradanini said. “I’m not from the political class, I’m from the neighborhoods. I don’t have higher aspirations for political steps that some of my opponents might have. This is what I want to do; I want to serve my community in this capacity.”
Higgins Bradanini faces contenders Matt Mahan and Helen Wang in the March 3 primary election. Read Mahan’s profile here and look for Wang’s profile on Wednesday.
Name: Jenny Higgins Bradanini
Family: One daughter, 19, and one son, 17
Political affiliation: Democrat
Education: B.A., California State University, Chico
Profession: Founder of Bay Area Women’s March
Current or previous elected or appointed positions: Former San Jose Councilmember Don Rocha’s policy director, Women’s Equality 2020 Leadership Council
Top 3 priorities: homelessness, the housing crisis and public safety
Top 3 endorsements: Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Assemblymember Ash Kalra and San Jose Councilmember Sergio Jimenez
Special talent: She’s very crafty, making her own jewelry and T-shirts
In one sentence, why vote for you? “You should vote for me because I’m running for our families, for our community, for all.”