Newcomer Jamal Khan says years of public service sets him apart
District 4 San Jose City Council Candidate Jamal Khan poses for a picture at the Berryessa Farmer's Market on a recent Saturday. Photo by Carina Woudenberg

    Jamal Khan was born and raised in San Jose’s District 4 and now at 32 — with a decent amount of public service under his belt — he hopes to represent the district on the San Jose City Council.

    “I’m always interested in what can make the community a better place or help a disadvantaged group,” Khan told San José Spotlight. “That’s always been a focus from a very young age.”

    After graduating from Independence High School as the class valedictorian in 2005, Khan completed his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley. Among other internships he fulfilled at the time, Khan worked for Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her San Francisco district office.

    Khan attended Harvard Law School and interned in Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and the Office of Government Ethics.

    Khan is challenging Councilmember Lan Diep, who also faces contenders David Cohen, a Berryessa Unified School District Trustee, and Huy Tran, an employment attorney.

    Khan said his lifelong commitment to the district and diverse background set him apart from the other candidates.

    “I’ve been involved in public service in different capacities,” said Khan, noting his experience in both government and nonprofit work at the federal, state and local levels. “I would say that gives me a very unique perspective into what is the most effective approach.”

    According to recent financial disclosures, Khan has raised nearly $2,351 for his campaign.

    Top priorities

    Khan said his top priorities for District 4 are focused on homelessness, affordable housing and traffic.

    Khan says he doesn’t see a one-size-fits-all solution to homelessness. In the cases that involve mental health and substance abuse issues, he says he would like to work with the county to ensure that those individuals have access to treatment. Khan acknowledges that many are homeless because they simply can’t afford the city’s skyrocketing rents and says he wants to further study the issues related to homelessness and work with a variety of stakeholders across the Bay Area to find solutions.

    Khan says he is interested in working with the council to make more affordable housing available and supports building accessory dwelling units, also known as “granny units,” and tiny homes as part of the solution.

    “People are not all homeless for the same reason,” Khan said. “It’s not simply a matter of throwing money at the problem.”

    Transportation improvements

    As the district waits for BART service to begin, Khan says he sees the potential to better incorporate housing and transit in denser developments that would provide residents easy access to public transportation. Khan is a proponent of mixed-use developments that feature commercial establishments on the first floor with housing on top, and hopes to reduce barriers to getting these projects completed.

    Khan also says he’s interested in closing that “last mile” gap between public transportation stations and homes by enhancing rideshare options and encouraging the use of scooters and bicycles.

    Longtime family friend Munir Ahmed says he’s known Khan since he was a child and says he’s always been a quiet, thoughtful presence — traits that will help him make wise choices on council.

    “He is a very calm and quiet guy, but you can see his brain is processing around the clock,” Ahmed said. He added that Khan is good at considering various viewpoints before coming up with solutions and added that he is smart with spending.

    “He wants to listen to the city and doesn’t waste any money,” Ahmed said.

    Contact Carina Woudenberg at [email protected] or follow @carinaew on Twitter.

    Name: Jamal Khan
    Age: 32
    Family: Single
    Political affiliation: Democrat
    Education: U.C. Berkeley and Harvard Law
    Profession: Attorney
    Current or previous elected or appointed positions: N/A
    Top 3 priorities: Affordable Housing, Homelessness, and Traffic
    Top 3 endorsements: Bangladeshi American Democratic Council
    Special talent: Performing stand-up comedy at open mic nights
    In one sentence, why vote for you? “I grew up and went to public schools in this community and have a considerable record of public service.”


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