Santa Clara County supervisor candidate moves to stay in race
Former San Jose Councilmember Johnny Khamis is pictured in this file photo.

Santa Clara County supervisor candidate Johnny Khamis is moving back into District 1 after a contentious redistricting process drew him out.

The Board of Supervisors moved Almaden Valley and Los Gatos out of District 1 into District 5 at the end of last year, as part of a once-in-a-decade adjustment of political boundaries to account for population changes. The redistricting process placed both of Khamis’ properties outside of District 1, essentially cutting him out of the race. The newly drawn District 1 includes parts of South San Jose like Evergreen and Silver Creek, in addition to Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin.

The decision to uproot his family from their Almaden home of 13 years was not an easy one, Khamis told San José Spotlight.

“This move is really sad because this has been our home,” said Khamis, who previously served as the San Jose District 10 councilmember for eight years. “And I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have a passion for serving the community and if I didn’t have the support of my family.”

The arrows indicate where Khamis’ two properties are located within the newly drawn districts for Santa Clara County. Image by Jana Kadah.

Despite recently refurbishing the fireplace in his Almaden home to his wife’s liking, Khamis joked, he signed a lease this week to rent a condo in South San Jose near Bernal Road. He needed to move within the newly drawn district 30 days before the final filling date on March 11, so he is in the clear to continue his campaign.

Khamis said under other circumstances, his family probably would not have agreed to move. But they believe the final map—a variation of an option put forth by labor and civil rights groups—was politically charged and aimed to disperse fiscally conservative voices to prevent people like him from running and winning the seat.

“My wife said, ‘This is so unfair that I don’t think you should quit the race,'” Khamis said.

Khamis is one of several conservative voices who took issue with the redistricting process. He even considered a lawsuit, citing ethical concerns, but decided against it because it would be too expensive and time consuming.

Some believe removing Almaden Valley and Los Gatos from District 1 limits pro-business voices and makes it harder for conservative candidates to win. District 1 has been represented by a conservative for the last 28 years, and current Supervisor Mike Wasserman terms out this year.

Los Gatos Mayor Rob Rennie, a Democratic candidate for the D1 seat, was also drawn out of the district.

“It’s disappointing to be moved out of the district after I spent a whole year actually campaigning,” Rennie told San José Spotlight. “But I am looking at it as a learning experience.”

The Los Gatos lawmaker decided to end his campaign to keep representing his town, but could potentially run for the Santa Clara County District 5 seat or the newly drawn state Assembly District 23 seat in 2024.

In the meantime, Khamis said he still has the know-how to represent the new District 1.

“These are my people, they think like me and want to see their money spent wisely,” Khamis said, noting the priorities of residents in the newly added neighborhoods in Evergreen, Silver Creek and the villages are similar to the rest of D1 residents. “The people of South San Jose and Morgan Hill and Gilroy want to solve homelessness, crime and transportation. Those are the three main issues I am hearing.”

Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

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