Republican businesswoman enters San Jose council race

The fight for San Jose’s District 10 City Council seat — being vacated by outgoing Councilmember Johnny Khamis — just got a little more crowded.

Helen Wang, a longtime business owner and registered nurse, told San José Spotlight she’s running for the Almaden Valley seat to “protect and enhance” the district’s safety, public services and “quality of life in terms of its property values and open spaces.” The only Republican in the race, Wang joins Democrats Jenny Higgins Bradanini, a longtime organizer, and Matt Mahan, Brigade CEO and co-founder.

Wang aligns politically with Khamis, who is now running for state Senate, raising questions about whether the former Republican lawmaker will support her. While speculation swirled earlier this year that Wang was running to succeed Khamis, she officially launched her website and made the announcement this week.

“I believe in supply and demand, free market economics,” Wang said. “I believe the city is going the wrong direction in terms of fiscal sustainability, including pension issues, and someone needs to start looking into some of the issues like permitting that have been going on for far too long.”

According to her biography, Wang worked in the medical field for more than 30 years, with experience as an RN Midwife and an administrator running an urgent care center in San Jose for more than 25 years. Wang also served on San Jose’s Small Business Task Force, the Tenant Protection Task Force in Milpitas and as president of the Silicon Valley Chinese Technology and Business Association (SVCTBA).

She also served on the Small Business Committee Transition Team under former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

Wang said her larger goals for San Jose are to promote transparency, especially when it comes to new taxes and bond measures, promote fiscal responsibility and sustainability and a “business friendly and entrepreneurial environment” for small businesses and landlords.

“I hope to cut waste, look for efficiencies and be transparent with citizens in terms of our real bonds and measures costs,” Wang added.

Wang is arguably the most conservative candidate in the race, while Bradanini is considered the labor-friendly progressive and Mahan is positioning himself as a a business-aligned moderate. Labor leaders have already endorsed Bradanini while the business lobby has not yet endorsed in the race.

“I anticipated Helen’s entrance in the race when her name was mentioned a few months ago, but haven’t heard anything since,” Bradanini said. “I am a bit surprised she jumped in this late. I have been actively out in the community since last year, so much has been going on in the D10 race already.”

Bradanini said she doesn’t believe residents of District 10 are “ready to play extreme partisan politics as this is a nonpartisan seat.”

Khamis said he would not endorse in the race for his successor until after the March primary election.

“I’m not going to endorse not because I’m not aligned with her, because I am. But she got a late start,” Khamis said. “I have a lot of respect for Helen, she’s worked in the community for many years and she’s a very level-headed person and well involved in getting good people elected in the city.

“I think she’s very qualified. I think she would make a good councilmember,” Khamis added. “But she got a late start and people like Matt have been out there in the community for more than a year.”

Contact Ramona Giwargis at ramona@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.

 

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