San Jose police sergeant enters District 8 race
Tam Truong, a candidate for the District 8 San Jose City Council seat, speaks during the January appointment process. Photo by Jana Kadah.

    A San Jose Police Department sergeant is jumping into the District 8 race to represent the Evergreen area.

    Tam Truong, 41, is a longtime candidate hopeful. The District 8 native—which encompasses neighborhoods including Evergreen, Silver Creek and Lake Cunningham area—attended public schools and is now raising two kids in the same district he hopes to represent. Truong unsuccessfully sought this seat during the appointment process in January and previously ran in District 4 against then-Councilmember Kansen Chu in 2012.

    Truong said the city’s main issues—and his top priorities—are housing, homelessness and public safety. His main focus areas for his district are traffic-related fatalities and improving the road infrastructure, as well as economic development in vacant commercial centers.

    “We have many commercial areas that can be reimagined and brought to life again via strategic development and eager business people,” Truong said. “(Economic development must) be lifted up through better infrastructure and communication—where people speak more languages of the residents, where city resources are more accessible to all.”

    Truong immigrated from Vietnam in 1991 and attended Chaboya Middle School and Silver Creek High school before graduating with a criminal justice degree from San Jose State University in 2004. After graduating, Truong worked at the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office for four years. He then joined SJPD—where he has worked for 15 years—moving up the ranks from a patrol officer, a detective in the sexual assault investigative unit and now a sergeant.

    Truong said his experience in the police department, particularly as the community and government liaison for the chief, make him a good fit for council. He also said his upbringing, where he spent time in a Thailand immigration prison before being sponsored by his aunt to come study in the U.S., helps him lead through a compassionate lens.

    “I came from nothing and I never thought I’d have an opportunity to be a police officer,” Truong told San José Spotlight. “I understand (when people are at their lowest) and what services they need because I came from the system. Our family was on welfare and we grew out of it.”

    He said the city needs to work with nonprofits to create a centralized approach to reducing homelessness. He also wants to utilize programs, like the Community Reinvestment Act, to help subsidize or create new housing and lower rents and mortgages.

    Kevin Jensen, president of the South Bay Regional Public Safety Training Consortium and a retired sheriff’s office captain who worked with Truong, said Truong’s work experience is an asset. He said Truong has seen people at their worst and understands what services are needed to help others.

    Jensen said he appreciates that Truong is not backed by organized labor or business.

    “This is a person who is an independent thinker, who’s reasonable, who believes in fairness, who’s seen the worst of humanity and tried to make a difference,” Jensen told San José Spotlight. “He brings a unique perspective of dealing with people on the front lines and is really invested in underrepresented communities … What I see him doing is building bridges.”

    Truong speaks fluent Vietnamese and had support from that community when he sought the open District 8 seat in January.

    But he has struggled to overcome accusations of wage theft and owes more than $30,000 to a former employee of his private security company as of January, documents reviewed by San José Spotlight show. Truong started his company, Training and Protective Services, in 2012.

    Truong previously told San José Spotlight that the settled case involved a difference of opinion over whether some workers should be categorized as independent contractors.

    Truong is looking to challenge incumbent Councilmember Domingo Candelas for the District 8 seat. Sukhdev Bainiwal, former city airport commissioner and board director of the Sikh Gurdwara of San Jose, is also running.

    “I want my kids to grow up where they are able to afford a house, get a good education and feel safe when they’re at school, home or at the workplace,” Truong said. “That’s really the core of this campaign—how do we improve the future of our city.”

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

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