Candidates continue to raise significant sums as they pursue several powerful elected seats in Santa Clara County for the upcoming primary election.
One of the most bitterly contested elections is that of Santa Clara County district attorney, where two candidates seek to replace longtime incumbent Jeff Rosen. One is a former DA employee who is currently suing Rosen for allegedly retaliating against him for writing negative op-eds about the DA’s office culture.
The three candidates have raised $138,918 total since late January, according to recent campaign filings. Deputy public defender Sajid Khan is in the lead with $82,827 compared to $46,896 raised by Rosen, who was first elected in 2010. That appears to be due to Rosen hitting the voluntary $500,000 ceiling for total contributions.
Rosen has the backing of Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez and the San Jose Police Officers’ Association.
Khan, who has positioned himself as the progressive candidate, told San José Spotlight his campaign is approaching a total of $350,000. He has received endorsements from Assemblymember Alex Lee and state Sen. Dave Cortese. None of the candidates loaned themselves any money.
“Our grassroots, people-powered movement is generating exciting momentum and putting us in a prime position to win this race in June,” Khan said.
Former deputy district attorney Daniel Chung has raised $9,195 in the latest cycle and concedes he is the financial underdog, although he has backing from Gilroy Councilmembers Dion Bracco and Carol Marques and the Los Gatos Police Officers Association. However, he doesn’t see his lack of financial support slowing him down.
“My message seems to be resonating with people—people seem to know who I am and are beginning to contribute more,” Chung told San José Spotlight. “I’m kind of the dark horse in the race right now, and I think my candidacy is on the rise.”
Both Rosen and Khan are spending heavily on their campaigns. Since late January, Rosen has spent $127,080, much of it for web-related and campaign consultant expenses. Khan has spent $104,410 on campaign consultants and digital media.
Santa Clara County Sheriff
Embattled Sheriff Laurie Smith is not seeking a seventh term, which means the county will have a new sheriff for the first time since 1998. Five candidates are vying to replace to Smith, with several pulling ahead in fundraising.
Retired Santa Clara County sheriff Cpt. Kevin Jensen leads the pack in the latest campaign contribution cycle, raising $118,025. Since late January, Jensen has received $6,150 in non-monetary contributions, and loaned his campaign $4,102. He has picked up some of the biggest endorsements to date, including the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Santa Clara County and the Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers Association.
Over the past few months Jensen has spent $60,870, mostly on campaign literature and marketing materials. He told San José Spotlight he has avoided contacting people directly for money, instead making indirect appeals through his campaign. Jensen said he’s paid for about seven billboards, as well as door hanging leaflets and social media. Compared to his unsuccessful 2014 campaign against Smith, Jensen said he has a better idea of how to use money and he’s grateful for the support to date.
“I think people put their money where their trust is,” Jensen said.
Behind Jensen is Palo Alto Police Chief Robert Jonsen, who has raised $41,009 in contributions since January, and loaned the campaign $25,000. Jonsen told San José Spotlight he believes the numerous forums the candidates are participating in are helping residents distinguish him from the others in the race.
“I’m feeling really good about it—I like the platform and the response we’re getting,” Jonsen said.
Jonsen said most of his donations to date have been people he knows, but he’s reluctant to aggressively seek money while he’s still in office because he fears it could create a conflict of interest. Jonsen said after he retires in June he will push harder to raise cash. He has spent $57,005 over the last few months, mostly on consulting, social media and printed materials. Jonsen said his campaign doesn’t currently have lawn signs. He has picked up endorsements from former state Sen. Jim Beall and the Sunnyvale Democratic Club.
The latest financial reports have not yet been posted for three other candidates running in the race: Santa Clara County Sheriff Sgt. Sean Allen and businesswoman Anh Colton. Colton did not respond to a request for comment.
Allen told San José Spotlight he submitted his campaign finance form and that he’s raised roughly $6,000 since January in contributions, plus $18,000 in personal loans. Allen has paid for two television ads, social media ads and signage. He has received an endorsement from Rev. Jeff Moore, former president of the Silicon Valley NAACP. Allen hasn’t raised major endorsements since then, but he says things are going well.
“People have been very receptive to me and my platform,” Allen said. “I think people are looking for someone who isn’t the status quo, and that’s what I represent.”
According to sheriff Sgt. Christine Nagaye’s latest campaign filing, she has received $1,600 in contributions since January and loaned her campaign $40,000. She has received endorsements from the Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley—a progressive club founded by Howard Dean—and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. She has spent $5,643 on legal services and filing fees.
“The majority of my contributions have been from average people rather than powerful groups,” Nagaye told San José Spotlight.
Santa Clara County Supervisor District 1
Mike Wasserman, president of the Board of Supervisors, is terming out this year. Five candidates are battling it out to see who will replace him.
The district’s boundaries were redrawn last year as part of the redistricting process that occurs every decade to ensure political districts have roughly even populations. The new district lost conservative-leaning regions in Almaden Valley and Los Gatos and picked up some San Jose neighborhoods, including Evergreen and Silver Creek.
Leading the pack in fundraising this quarter is San Jose Councilmember Sylvia Arenas, who has raised $118,170 since January. Arenas has spent $27,172 on her campaign over the past few months, with a significant portion used for polling services. Arenas has picked up support from the South Bay Labor Council and San Jose Councilmembers Magdalena Carrasco, Maya Esparza and Raul Peralez.
“My campaign is laser focused on having meaningful conversations with voters,” Arenas told San José Spotlight. “We’ve already been spending money on our grassroots effort, including making phone calls, texting with voters and knocking on doors.”
Former San Jose Councilmember Johnny Khamis only raised $10,995 since January because he already hit the voluntary limit, he said. Khamis is endorsed by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and the Taxpayers Association of Silicon Valley.
Khamis spent $77,834 over the past few months, mostly on campaign marketing material, and he says the campaign is planning to send out mailers.
“My campaign is focused on solutions for the homeless that are not being discussed,” Khamis told San José Spotlight. “I think that message is resonating.”
Claudia Rossi, a practitioner nurse and trustee on the Santa Clara County Board of Education, has raised $27,365 since late January. Rossi has received endorsements from Supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Otto Lee. She has spent $12,461 over the past few months, including on campaign literature.
She told San José Spotlight her early investment in voter data has paid off because she’s reaching thousands of likely voters. She also said her campaign has made a point to refuse donations from certain groups.
“I am particularly proud of the fact that I made a commitment not to accept corporate contributions,” Rossi said, noting many of her contributions come from teachers and nurses. “You’re not going to find developer money or oil money (in my report).”
Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine has raked in $18,983 since late January and spent about $27,477. Constantine has paid for campaign consultants and television ads. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Denelle Fedor, a district resident and former political staffer, has raised $4,200 in contributions since January and loaned her campaign $2,500.
Fedor has spent $2,103 on filing fees and campaign materials. Fedor, the only Republican in the race, told San José Spotlight she is not taking money from unions, political action committees or big businesses. She noted that plenty of candidates have won office despite raising less cash than their opponents. She believes her platform’s emphasis on fiscal responsibility will prove popular with voters.
“I think it’s really important we spend our money in a very responsible way so we are taking care of those people who need help the most,” Fedor said.
Santa Clara County Assessor
The field of candidates seeking to replace longtime Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone was winnowed earlier this year after Valley Water Board Chairman Gary Kremen backed out of the race following accusations from a former campaign staffer that he shared partially nude photos in a Dropbox. Kremen invested heavily in the race, loaning himself $170,000 on top of $71,273 he raised in contributions.
Incumbent Larry Stone is now squaring off with a single opponent: Andrew Crockett, an accountant and former employee of Stone’s who wants to modernize the office.
As of late January, Stone has raised $11,050. This is on top of $275,000 he loaned himself last year. Over the past few months, Stone has spent $41,854 on campaign consultants, polls and campaign literature, among other services. He has been endorsed by the Mercury News and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.
Stone said the campaign has slowed down with Kremen out of the race, but he’s been aggressively promoting his candidacy on social media.
“I don’t have the level of competition I had when Gary was in the race,” Stone said. “But I enjoy doing this. For a lot of elected officials, it’s a burden. It’s never a burden for me to campaign—I just like it.”
Crockett, who did not respond to requests for comment, has raised $14,125 since late January. He loaned his campaign $23,600 this year. According to his latest campaign filing, Crockett has spent $17,810 on office expenses, filing costs, travel and consultants. Crockett has been endorsed by the Santa Clara County Management Employees Association and Peter Fiekowsky, the Foundation for Climate Restoration.
Santa Clara County Supervisor District 4
Supervisor Susan Ellenberg is running unopposed for re-election to represent District 4, which covers West San Jose, Campbell, Santa Clara and unincorporated Burbank. According to her latest campaign filings, Ellenberg has raised $4,450 since January. During that same period she spent $23,715 on campaign consultants, filing fees and campaign staff salaries, among other services.