Joe Lopez, a retired sergeant with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office and candidate for San Jose City Council District 2.
Joe Lopez, a retired sergeant with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, is running for the District 2 San Jose City Council seat. Photo courtesy of Joe Lopez.

A retired deputy sheriff who served Santa Clara County for 35 years is looking to serve another four years—but this time on the San Jose City Council.

Joe Lopez, 72, is running for the open San Jose District 2 council seat, which stretches from the border of Morgan Hill and up to a portion of South San Jose, ending at Sylvandale Avenue. With Councilmember Sergio Jimenez terming out, the retired sergeant is facing off against Jimenez’s chief of staff Vanessa Sandoval, business owner Babu Prasad and Pamela Campos, policy director for a national nonprofit.

Lopez’s goal is to make San Jose the safest city—a title it used to hold. To do so, he wants to focus on cleaning up blight, addressing crime and reducing street homelessness.

“I’m not saying anything that anybody else isn’t saying and even the solutions are all quite the same,” Lopez told San José Spotlight. “But in some respects, some of that has not been working.”

What has been working are the temporary housing shelters to reduce street homelessness, Lopez said. He would like to add more shelters across the city and require that unhoused residents stay there. District 2 houses the most of these shelters, and Lopez wants the rest of the city to carry its weight.

He also said San Jose needs to readjust funding priorities and hire more police officers to increase public safety. The city is poised to have a deficit over the next few years and Lopez promised to ensure there are no layoffs of officers or other staff to balance the budget.

Lopez is a member of the National Latino Peace Officers Association. He has served three times on the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury. He has also been a commissioner on the Human Services Commission and the San Jose Board of Fair Campaign and Political Practices.

He is a by-the-book kind of man—he said rules are in place for a reason and everyone should be held accountable to them. But he said those who do skirt the law deserve rehabilitation and love to rebuild their lives. Lopez speaks from experience.

Lopez had a short stint in juvenile hall for vandalizing his high school and was subsequently prohibited from attending any of the high schools in his Salinas neighborhood. He was involved with gangs, but turned his life around by making up his school credits during the day and working nights in the frozen food section of a grocery store as a Teamster’s member. He then attended San Jose State and was hired as deputy by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office in 1974.

“I have my own experiences both good and bad, but I think overall I’m a product of what you can do with somebody if you if you work with them and are patient. Then you get the kind of loving that I’ve gotten from my family and in particular my wife,” Lopez said, noting his wife is his high school sweetheart.

Lopez identifies as a moderate and is endorsed by former San Jose Councilmember Johnny Khamis, the California Realtors Association and other pro-business voices. But Lopez has also been a union member and leader, and for that reason he believes he is more independent than pro-business or pro-labor.

Khamis, who sits on the Silicon Valley Biz PAC, said the PAC has yet to endorse a candidate in the race, but Lopez securing support from the state realtors association goes a long way. Khamis believes because Lopez is the only moderate in the race he will make it past the primary election on March 5. Lopez ran against current councilmember Jimenez in 2016, coming in third place during the primaries and securing 22.8% of the vote.

“I’ve liked him since the first time he ran against Sergio (Jimeinez),” Khamis told San José Spotlight. “He knows District 2 quite well. He’s been a community leader for quite some time. I actually like candidates who come from a law enforcement background, because we want to make our city safer.”

Contact Jana at [email protected] or follow @Jana Kadah on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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