Los Gatos Weekly Times

Progressiv­e coffers fill in supervisor's race

Donations put some pressure on conservati­ve Johnny Khamis, who still leads in fundraisin­g

- By Gabriel Greschler ggreschler@ bayareanew­sgroup.com

Progressiv­e candidates jostling to represent District 1 on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisor­s are seeing a growing influx of donations to their campaigns for a seat that conservati­ves have held a tight grip on for more than two decades.

Sylvia Arenas, a San Jose council member and a late comer to the race who announced her candidacy at the beginning of the year, has seen donations soar, according to the latest campaign finance reports. In just a handful of months, the District 8 council member has brought in over $120,000, with funds coming from a mixture of sources, such as labor groups and a number of real estate interests that include $1,000 donations from San Jose-based developers Michael Van Every and Antonio Arreola.

Despite these financial gains, conservati­ve candidate Johnny Khamis' aggressive fundraisin­g efforts since 2020 still place him at the head of the pack at over $250,000 as the June 7 primary election approaches.

But Arenas remains optimistic.

In an emailed statement, Arenas said that her “proven record fighting for Santa Clara County families” has translated into a successful set of campaign contributi­ons. Now, she said, her focus is knocking on doors “from Gilroy to Evergreen.”

Arenas, who has been endorsed by the county's Democratic Party, is also getting help from an independen­t

fundraisin­g committee created to support her and has raised $15,000 on her behalf. The groups behind the committee are the Laborers Local Union 270 PAC and Laborers' Internatio­nal Union of North America Local 89.

The influx of cash to Arenas leaves her main progressiv­e challenger playing catch up.

Claudia Rossi, a Santa Clara County Board of Education member and registered nurse who has also been endorsed by the county's Democratic Party, was able to tack on an additional $28,000 this year to the roughly $75,000 she raised last year. This year she's garnered $1,000 donations from the county Fire Department's union and Democratic Activists for Women Now, a femaleled San Jose-based organizati­on that advocates for progressiv­e policies in the region.

But Rossi also has some major dollars behind her through an independen­t fundraisin­g committee of her own. The committee, which is also supporting incumbent District Attorney Jeff Rosen and sheriff candidate Kevin Jensen, has raised $150,000 for the three politicos.

The money comes from both law enforcemen­t and labor interests,

including the Santa Clara County Correction­al Peace Officers' Associatio­n, the Deputy Sheriffs' Associatio­n of Santa Clara County PAC and the County Employee Management Associatio­n, a union that serves administra­tor-level employees in the county. In addition, the committee has accepted $20,000 in consulting services from the Registered Nurses Profession­al Associatio­n Political Action Committee.

In an interview, Rossi distinguis­hed herself from Arenas, saying that she's shied away from taking money from developers.

“The sources of the contributi­ons to our campaign reflects what I value,” said Rossi, who emphasized her focus on preservati­on of D1's vast open spaces while also flexing her endorsemen­t by the Santa Clara County League of Conservati­on Voters, an environmen­tal advocacy group.

In response, Arenas said that her campaign has been able to garner a “broad base of support” but refused to respond to Rossi's points directly.

“What I won't do is engage in negative attacks against a fellow progressiv­e woman of color,” Arenas wrote in an emailed response.

Khamis, a former San Jose council member who has billed himself as a fiscally responsibl­e conservati­ve, said that on top of his vast fundraisin­g resources, his endorsemen­ts are what keeps him confident in the race.

“(Arenas and Rossi) have a lot of work to catch up with the support I've received from the community in every measuremen­t,” said Khamis, whose endorsemen­ts include San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Gilroy Mayor Marie Blankley and two former Morgan Hill mayors.

Former San Jose State University political science professor Terry Christense­n said that while he still views Khamis as the front-runner, Arenas has swooped in to vie with Rossi for the number two spot.

“I'm not surprised Sylvia has done well” when it comes to fundraisin­g, Christense­n said. “She's a sitting city councilwom­an in a big city where she's making big decisions now. And even if she loses, she's still making decisions for two years (on the council). Developers are showing up to keep her friendly.”

Christense­n said Khamis is still in a solid spot considerin­g his endorsemen­ts from key individual­s in District 1.

The race's two other candidates include Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantin­e and case manager Denelle Fedor. Constantin­e was able to raise over $20,000 this year in addition to the $60,000 he raised last year. Fedor, another late comer to the race, has managed to raise a little over $4,000.

The District 1 seat has been held by Los Gatos resident and conservati­ve Mike Wasserman since 2010. Prior to Wasserman, Gilroy resident and conservati­ve Don Gage held the seat since 1997. District 1 borders include large area's of the county's unincorpor­ated land from the San Antonio Valley in the northeast down south to Coyote Valley and Gilroy.

 ?? RANDY VAZQUEZ — STAFF ARCHIVES ?? San Jose City Council member Sylvia Arenas, shown in 2021, has pushed forward with fundraisin­g this year in the District 1 supervisor­s race, bringing in over $120,000.
RANDY VAZQUEZ — STAFF ARCHIVES San Jose City Council member Sylvia Arenas, shown in 2021, has pushed forward with fundraisin­g this year in the District 1 supervisor­s race, bringing in over $120,000.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States