San Jose City Council hopeful Jonathan Fleming wants District 2 voters to know he’s nothing like the incumbent, Sergio Jimenez.
“It’s like night and day,” said Fleming, a mechanical engineer and data-driven defense government contractor. “What’s happening with our current policies are not working.”
The Republican turned Independent, born again Republican said he’s eager to approach the city’s burgeoning crises with new ideas that challenge the labor-backed, progressive strategies pushed by lawmakers like Jimenez. His approach is guided by values rooted in fiscal responsibility — a lesson learned from a traumatic car accident that upended his life more than ten years ago that made left him stranded by an inefficient, expensive and underfunded health care system.
However, despite his strong views on national topics such as health care, Fleming — who returned to the GOP in 2018 after a short hiatus — insists on keeping his opinions to himself.
“We have too many people talking about the divisiveness of national politics and that’s one of the problems that we have here in San Jose,” he said. “That’s why we need those resources spent here and we need people focusing on our local issues to bring our communities together.”
Fleming’s opinions of President Donald Trump and national issues, including immigration, shouldn’t be openly discussed, he said, and would rather focus on how he can help transform some of the party’s views from the inside.
“I want to make our party better, I want to make our party more inclusive, more diverse,” he added.
Housing and homelessness
If elected, the 36-year-old candidate said he’d tackle the housing shortage by implementing trickle-down policies that decrease fees and remove regulations for developers who want to build market-rate housing in the city. This approach will make housing affordable across all income levels, he added, by speeding up the time it takes to get shovels in the ground. He also wants to streamline the city’s permitting process, while cutting down bureaucratic red tape that hinders construction.
To address the homeless crisis, Fleming said the city’s “housing first” methodology is not working. Without adding new taxes, he wants to instead use funds from tech companies such as Facebook and Google that have already pledged dollars toward homelessness to build “homeless specific housing.” Specifically, Fleming wants to construct a “university-like campus” with on-site services, job training and case management.
The goal is to get people back up on their feet by treating mental health and drug addiction first, he said, priming the unhoused as “contributing members of society.”
The Los Angeles native has lived in the South Bay for nearly 20 years and in San Jose since 2007. While he’s only lived in District 2 for a short time, Fleming said he understands the fear many residents face in a district with increasing crime. That’s why he wants to increase police staffing to new levels, with a “tough on crime” approach.
“This is a way to get more bad guys off the street and to prevent bad things from happening,” he said. “We need to have more police officers. Let’s keep our officers on the streets and keep them doing their job.”
Fleming wants to hire 1,450 officers and more dispatch personnel to reduce 911 and 311 response times, in addition to implementing new technologies to file police reports faster.
At the core of Fleming’s promises is his strong opposition to frivolous government spending.
A staunch opponent of new taxes, Fleming said he wants to stop “throwing money” at the the city’s top problems through a “zero-based” budgeting plan. The plan would involve a cost analysis of city services to determine what programs could be cut and how much money can be saved to fund more important initiatives.
“I want to look at every single policy throughout the city government, and see what their returns are, how much money they’re spending, how much cost savings they’re bringing in or what the end result is,” he added.
Fleming served on the city’s neighborhoods commission for two years and founded the Senter Monterey-San Jose Neighborhood Association. Melinda Amezcua credits Fleming with getting involved in her community.
“Initially I was an attendee, but was impressed at how well he ran the meetings,” said Amezcua, a former neighborhood association board member. “He really listened to the neighbors. He approached everything with thoroughness. Running for City Council is absolutely Jonathan’s forte.”
Contact Nadia Lopez at [email protected] or follow @n_llopez on Twitter.
Name: Jonathan Fleming
Family: Married, 1 daughter, 3 dogs
Political affiliation: Republican
Education: Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering; Santa Clara University
Profession: Mechanical engineer, small business owner
Current or previous elected or appointed positions: Neighborhood commission for the city
Top 3 priorities: Public safety, homelessness, fiscal responsibility
Top 3 endorsements: Councilmember Johnny Khamis, former Mayor Chuck Reed, Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association
Special talent: Bringing bedtime story characters alive for his three-year old daughter. “That’s a fun one — it’s worth every single second,” he said.
In one sentence, why vote for you? “Our quality of life has worsened over the past three years and our residents want change.”