San Jose politician worked on map that would have benefited his candidacy
District 5 San Jose City Council candidate Andres Quintero speaking at a rally for the Unity Map on Dec. 7. Photo by Tran Nguyen.

Questions are swirling around an East San Jose politician who worked on a redistricting map that would have helped him in an upcoming election.

Andres Quintero, vice president of the board of trustees for Alum Rock Union School District, announced his candidacy for the District 5 San Jose City Council seat last week. According to an East San Jose community leader, Quintero was pondering a run as early as January or February. But he did not disclose this fact while promoting the adoption of the Unity Map—a proposal for redrawing San Jose’s political boundaries.

Quintero currently lives in District 8. The original draft of the Unity Map, no longer being considered by San Jose lawmakers, would have placed his home within District 5.

Some East San Jose community leaders say this omission is deeply unethical given Quintero’s advocacy of the Unity Map through the nonprofit organization Latino Leadership Alliance, where he has served as chair of its redistricting committee. As recently as last week, Quintero appeared at a rally outside City Hall to support the Unity Map.

“The problem is Andres was literally the face of the map—he presented it to the (redistricting) commissions,” said Serena Alvarez, executive director of the Salvador E. Alvarez Institute for Non-Violence. Alvarez said Quintero told her earlier this year he intended to run for District 5, and she hadn’t realized at the time he lived in District 8.

“At no point did he inform the public or the commissions that he had a self-interest in the Unity Map,” she said.

Quintero told San José Spotlight he couldn’t recall making formal statements about running for City Council prior to his announcement over the weekend. He said any discussions he may have had earlier this year about a possible run were just casual conversations.

“It’s unfortunate people are spending a significant amount of time asking where I live and where I’m at,” he said, adding that people raising the issue probably support another candidate in the District 5 election. Alvarez said she donated $100 to Peter Ortiz, who is running, but doesn’t plan to endorse anyone in the election.

The Unity Map was introduced at the city and county levels by a coalition of labor and civil rights groups. A version of the map for Santa Clara County was recently approved by the Board of Supervisors. Leaders from various South Bay organizations, including the Latino Leadership Alliance, promoted the Unity Map as a way to create more equitable representation for historically marginalized communities in San Jose.

The alliance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Quintero said he never worked on drafting the political boundaries on the Unity Map. He claims his role was simply to advocate for the map as proper representation for the Latino community.

San Jose is still in the process of sorting its political boundaries as part of the once-in-a-decade redistricting process. The City Council recently decided to winnow its field of potential maps to one introduced by Councilmember David Cohen, which is a mix of elements from the three frontrunners: the Unity Map, the Community Map and the Commission Map.

Quintero is waiting for the city’s redistricting process to resolve, but he intends to run for the District 5 council seat regardless of which district his home ends up in.

“I’m waiting to see where the lines fall,” he said. “If I’m in the district, that’s fine. If I’m out of the district, I intend to be in a position to run for D5 regardless of where the lines may be.”

Editor’s Note: Perla Rodriguez, spouse of District 5 candidate Rolando Bonilla, serves as chair of San José Spotlight’s board of directors.

Contact Eli Wolfe at [email protected] or @EliWolfe4 on Twitter.

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