Sylvia Arenas ahead in race for District 1 Santa Clara County supervisor
San Jose Councilmember Sylvia Arenas at the South Bay Labor Council election night party on Nov. 8, 2022. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    With approximately 62% of ballots counted, Arenas is ahead with 53.7% of the vote, or 40,185 votes. Khamis has 46.2% of the vote or 34,526 votes.

    “I’m cautiously optimistic,” Arenas told San José Spotlight on election night. “I’m more excited about the possibility of serving my constituents.”

    A rotating group of neighbors and supporters sipped soda and huddled under gas heaters in the candidate’s Evergreen backyard at an election night party.

    Sylvia Arenas speaks with a supporter at her backyard election night party. Photo by Brian Howey.

    Khamis and Arenas beat out three candidates in the June primary to replace Supervisor Mike Wasserman, who terms out at the end of the year.

    At his election party at the Los Paseos Homeowners Association Tuesday night, Khamis said he is anxious, but grateful for the support he received. Supporters trickled into his party, exchanging hugs and picking at a freshly delivered buffet of Middle Eastern staples such as hummus and flagella and pita bread.

    “We’re a dedicated team. Everybody here is here for the good of the county,” Khamis told San José Spotlight. “With all these negative hit pieces, it makes me nervous. I wish we could’ve exchanged ideas rather than barbs. If nothing else, I got to meet tremendous people in this campaign.”

    Santa Clara County District 1 Supervisor Mike Wasserman, former San Jose Councilmember Johnny Khamis and Gilroy Mayor Marie Blankley at Khamis’ election night party. Photo by Brian Howey.

    The redrawn District 1 boundaries, adopted through a redistricting process last year, have been extended to include several San Jose neighborhoods such as Evergreen and Silver Creek. The district no longer has the conservative stronghold areas of Almaden Valley and Los Gatos in its borders. Local politicos see this as an opportunity for progressive candidates to take control of a seat held by more conservative lawmakers since 1997.

    As San Jose councilmember, Arenas, 49, has championed a myriad of social services and policies including San Jose’s Family Friendly Initiative. She’s a Democrat with the support of Councilmembers Magdalena Carrasco, Maya Esparza, Raul Peralez, former Assemblymember Kansen Chu and two political action committees. She has raised more than $300,000, campaign filings show.

    Khamis, 53, termed out of his San Jose council seat in 2020. He moved to stay in the race after being drawn out in the redistricting process. He said he has plans to address homelessness, crime and budgetary issues. He has the support of Wasserman, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, former Supervisor Don Gage and the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association.

    Khamis, who has raised nearly $525,000 in this race, faced a robust negative campaign funded by labor unions days ahead of the election. He was likened to former President Donald Trump through misleading mailers sent by his opponent and political allies. Khamis has been a Republican for most of his adult life, but left the party in 2018 because of Trump’s immigration policies.

    The race is one of the most contentious in the South Bay, with some politicos even losing the Santa Clara County Democratic Party’s endorsement for crossing the political line and endorsing Khamis.

    This story will be updated. 

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

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