Silicon Valley labor leaders make 2024 election endorsements
South Bay Labor and Democratic Central Committee announce their endorsements for the November 2024 elections. File photo.

The South Bay Labor Council’s endorsements for the November 2024 election reveal notable surprises and omissions.

The Labor Council, which represents more than 100 unions in Santa Clara and San Benito counties, is throwing its weight behind a number of candidates running for open seats on the San Jose City Council. Babu Prasad, president of the District 2 Leadership Council, is vying for the District 2 seat. Labor is supporting Olivia Navarro, a union adviser, for District 6 and Lenka Wright, a government leader and media specialist for District 10. 

“Babu is a strong neighborhood leader who also is very active in his union,” said Jean Cohen, executive officer for the South Bay Labor Council. “Olivia is also a local labor leader who has spent many years working in her community. Lenka has shared values and is a Pro-choice Democratic woman running in a traditionally conservative district.”

Jean Cohen said the Labor Council didn’t support District 4 Councilmember David Cohen in his bid for reelection because Labor felt he could do better. Jean Cohen said his record wasn’t in line with Labor Council’s foundational beliefs and that he didn’t take initiative on behalf of working people. 

“Most importantly, (we need) strong champions of working families, who understand the power of public policy and have the skills and relationships to move an agenda and to partner with us to do so,” she told San José Spotlight.

David Cohen told San José Spotlight he “put his heart and soul” into serving District 4 residents, particularly those traditionally underserved, providing them with resources to create a safe and healthy community.

Santa Clara County Endorsements

For the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, Labor is backing Betty Duong, who serves as Chief of Staff for Supervisor Cindy Chavez in District 2. The organization supports District 3 Supervisor Otto Lee for reelection and former Mountain View Mayor and Councilmember Margaret Abe-Koga for District 5.

“We’re excited to make sure that the work of Supervisor Chavez is continued by someone who has shared values and the ability to govern with her colleagues,” Jean Cohen said about Duong.

Regarding Abe-Koga, Jean Cohen said she has demonstrated her ability to manage complex policy issues in partnership with Labor and community, and effectively solves and identifies resources that are desperately needed.

The Santa Clara County Democratic Party followed Labor in declining to endorse David Cohen.

San Jose Councilmember Sergio Jimenez said David Cohen has shown a commitment to the Democratic party’s values in and out of elected office.

“It’s upsetting, frustrating, and frankly, shortsighted, that allies wouldn’t support someone who is by far the best candidate,” he told San José Spotlight, “and someone who has given many years of his life in pursuit of the values the Democratic party holds dear.”

Bill James, chair of the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee said the Committee didn’t endorse David Cohen in part due to a split vote in District 4 between him and former Councilmember and State Assemblymember Kansen Chu.

People who have known Councilmember Cohen for a long time have a strong and high opinion of him, James told San José Spotlight, while others may have based their judgement on recent interactions and issues at city council.

“Our process requires a 2/3 threshold to make any decision of endorsement,” he said. “By a small margin, we did not reach that threshold with respect to Councilmember Cohen. On balance, more than the majority would have supported an endorsement, but not a 2/3 threshold.”

For the San Jose City Council, the Committee endorsed multiple candidates for District 2, including Pamela Campos, Prasad and Vanessa Sandoval. It supports  Navarro for District 6, Domingo Candelas for District 8 and Wright for District 10. For the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, it selected Duong for District 2 and both Abe-Koga and Sally Lieber for District 5.

The primary election is March 5, 2024.

Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected].

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