The race for the District 2 Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors seat continues to grow more contested, with education trustee Van Le announcing her candidacy.
Le, 65, is an East Side Union High School District trustee who has been in that leadership role since 2010. Since arriving in San Jose as a Vietnam War refugee in 1975, Le has been on boards of various local community organizations and nonprofits such as the Work2Future program in San Jose and the Boy Scouts of America. She also established her own State Farm insurance agency, Van Le Insurance Agency.
Le is one of six candidates running for the open District 2 seat. With Supervisor Cindy Chavez terming out next year, Le faces off against Chavez’s chief of staff, Betty Duong, former San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, former San Jose Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco, Alum Rock Union School District Trustee Corina Herrera-Loera and nonprofit founder Jennifer Celaya. District 2 encompasses parts of East San Jose and downtown.
The supervisor hopeful said she wants to ensure the county’s multi-billion-dollar budget is always balanced—and will look to reduce costs when possible. But she also wants to tackle what she believes are District 2’s top issues: public safety, homelessness and supportive community programs, including more housing for vulnerable populations like veterans, low income families and senior citizens.
“We provide a lot of services from the county, but we still have to get deeper in the issues,” Le told San José Spotlight. “We need less Band-Aid solutions.”
When it comes to homelessness, Le wants to find solutions to make temporary housing more enticing to people living on the streets. She said the county may be too restrictive in its rules around interim housing by mandating curfews or restricting residents from having guests—which result in people not feeling free.
She also wants to expand rent relief programs to prevent people from falling into homelessness in the first place.
“I also want to create an audit committee to monitor the progress of the (homeless) programs we have right now,” Le said. “How many houses have we been supporting out there? How many homeless people have we been able to help? What are the numbers?”
Le said the county should fill the gaps in public safety by focusing more on police alternatives. She said there need to be more mental health professionals to respond to crisis calls while city police departments staff up.
This election also has the potential to be historic. Winning could make Le the first Vietnamese supervisor in Santa Clara County history—a great honor, she said. San Jose is home to more than 125,000 people of Vietnamese ancestry, making it the second largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam—but representation has been historically lacking.
“Our people don’t usually ask for help so we need to sit on the table to advocate for ourselves,” Le said. “If we sit outside the table, people can bring the menu to you, and we just have to eat, even though you don’t like it.”
Steven Sanchez, who used to teach at the Eastside Union High School District, said he supports Le’s candidacy because of how active she is in supporting students. Now, as a trustee of the Franklin McKinley School District, Sanchez said he has seen how much work Le puts in to advocate for the most vulnerable youth.
“She has been a strong leader and organizer of city events for the past few decades, and has a proven track record of being invested in her communities,” Sanchez told San José Spotlight. “She has organized the Moon Festival for more than 30 years, and has been a strong proponent of homeless youth, setting up fundraising events to make sure they are given adequate supplies and equitable opportunities.”
This isn’t the first time Le is getting involved in running for an elected position. She unsuccessfully ran for the District 7 San Jose City Council seat twice and District 8 once. She said she will not give up because public service is her passion. If elected, her goal is to provide services to make sure people’s dreams become reality.
“It took me 20 years to graduate from San Jose State, which is a long time, but I do not give up,” Le said. “If I give up then I could not talk to those students who fail to graduate or try to make it. So to me, that’s my message: don’t give up on your dreams, no matter who you are, no matter what challenge.”
Contact Jana at [email protected] or follow @Jana Kadah on X, formerly known as Twitter.