Ready or not, election season is upon us again. Our eccentric group of current presidential candidates has stolen the show thus far—so we’ll forgive you if you’ve slightly neglected the local races.


But with voting rapidly approaching on June 7th, it’s the perfect time to get caught up on where City Council candidates stand on San Jose's most pertinent issues. Here are this year’s candidates, broken down by district, platforms they’ve placed most importance on, and views on cannabis when applicable.


District 2 (Edenvale, Santa Teresa, Basking Ridge, Coyote Valley and parts of Blossom Valley)

Steve Brown

Brown boasts a strong background in security—he has worked for the San Jose Police Department and currently owns Echelon Security. Brown doesn’t delve much into his perspective on the issues referenced on his website, but places ‘Fiscal Responsibility’ and ‘Safeguarding our City’ at the top of his ‘My Focus’ list.


Views on cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Brown.


Sergio Jiminez

Jiminez currently acts as an investigator with the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office, and serves as Chair of the San Jose Parks & Recreation Commission. He’s keen on making San Jose safer, proposing an emphasis on “expanding LED street lighting for every neighborhood” and providing additional extracurricular options for local youth. He also vows to address the housing crisis, stating developments must “reflect the needs of our residents,” which can be achieved by more actively involving residents in community issues.


Views on cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Jiminez.


Joe Lopez

Lopez is currently serving his third term on the City of San Jose Human Services Commission, which advises City Council on poverty- and human trafficking-related issues. He proposes making San Jose safer by utilizing Community Service Officers (CSOs) to help handle non-emergency issues. He also focuses on fiscal responsibility, aiming to hold the City accountable for “wasting taxpayer dollars” over the last couple of years. He suggests that the various departments receiving taxpayer money should be required to justify how they spend it, rather than receiving an automatic allocation each year.


Views on cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Lopez.


Eli Portales

Portales is a San Jose lawyer who’s currently in his 11th year of practice. He also serves on the advisory board for the New Leaders Council, “a leadership institute focused on training young professionals.” Portales says, “This will be a campaign based on how the nuts and bolts of community-building can shape broad and bold leadership across San Jose.” He aims to reduce crime by opening a police substation and reinstating the Burglary Unit.


Views on cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Portales.


District 4 (Alviso, Berryessa, and North San Jose)

Manh Nguyen

Nguyen is one of two City Council incumbents seeking reelection. He lists “Public Safety” and “Fiscal Responsibility” as his chief concerns. He plans to address recent spikes in crime by offering police officers increasingly competitive salaries and “restoring services in our libraries and community centers that keep youth off the streets.” As San Jose’s financial woes are concerned, Nguyen vows to help, “craft mutually agreeable retirement reforms that achieve the savings needed to restore services cut over more than a decade of budget deficits,” if Measure B is repealed.


Views on Cannabis: Nguyen has taken a hard stance against cannabis in years past. He was the lone opposition in a 10-1 vote that eased San Jose’s notoriously strict regulations on medical collectives. This was “because of a personal belief that marijuana should not be legal,” according to the San Jose Mercury.


Lan Diep

Diep is a 31-year-old Republican, which is mildly surprising if one’s to blindly glance at his political track record. According to the Mercury,“[Diep] is pro choice, doesn't get why anyone would oppose gay marriage and has spent his career standing up for victims of wage theft and other predatory practices.” His top priority is public safety, which he in part plans to tackle by improving technology to increase police efficiency. Additionally, he suggests ‘Smart Development,’ which is aimed at continuing development in the city, while minimizing inconvenience to current citizens.


Views on cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Diep.


District 6 (Willow Glen, Buena Vista area)

Peter Allen

Allen owns a small consulting practice while acting as the Managing Director of the non-profit Chicano theatre company, Teatro Vision. He intends to make rent control a priority, planning to implement measures that ensure rent increases don’t “outpace the ability of our residents to afford them.” He also supports San Jose working toward increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018.


Views on cannabis: “I support the medical cannabis industry 100%. I'm pleased to see the City of SJ working with currently licensed collectives to improve on the existing regulations — particularly with regard to off-site cultivation, which I feel is a no brainer if you understand the issue. 


I do NOT support Measure C because it goes too far in loosening zoning and safety regulations. I think the collectives and the City will find a happy medium through continued negotiation, which the proponents say was the point of floating the initiative in the first place.”


Helen Chapman

Chapman is a retired small business owner and former Resource Director for the San Jose Unified School District. She clearly outlines her plan to improve public safety, which includes streamlining services, and adding more CSOs and park rangers. She also supports the idea of communities becoming more actively involved in deciding how taxpayer money is allocated.


Views on cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Chapman.


Devora Davis

Davis is a Stanford researcher who boasts an endorsement from former Mayor Chuck Reed. She was inspired to run due to lack of public safety resources in her neighborhood—which she plans to confront in part by utilizing more CSOs, and investing in technological upgrades to make current resources more efficient. She wants to create jobs by aggressively marketing San Jose to businesses and streamlining the permitting and inspection process.


Views on cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Davis.


Erik Fong

Fong is a manager at Apple and former Vice Chair for San Jose Parks and Recreation Commission. His platform includes maintaining an overall high quality of life for citizens—which involves better-maintained streets and providing satisfactory constituent services. He favors the pension reform settlement between City Hall and city employees, and plans to build an additional fire station in the Willow Glen area.


Views on Cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Fong.


Norm Kline

Kline runs his own software company and is the former Mayor of Saratoga. Though his website is a bit vague, he lists “Public Safety” and “Public Works” as his main priorities. He says “police and fire services must be the best we can afford” and stresses the maintenance of our roads, parks, and buildings to avoid placing burdens on future generations.


Views on Cannabis: Kline has proven to be in support of medical marijuana in the past. Regarding a push to restrict collectives a couple years back, Kline said, "There's clearly a need for these collectives, and dropping them to 10 would limit access. It makes more sense to offer more access."


Ruben Navarro

Navarro is a technology supervisor and Santa Clara University graduate. He aims to create safer neighborhoods by providing LED street lighting while expanding the hours of recreation centers to keep youth occupied. He also mentions rent control as a concern, saying, “we have to make sure that we are working on [providing housing] that focuses on low-to-medium-income families.


Views on Cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Navarro.


Chris Roth

Roth is Chair of the San Jose Library and Early Education Commission, while acting as President of the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association. He advocates for a realistic solution to the City’s current pension dilemma, promising to “vote for contracts that are both fair and sustainable for years to come.” Affordable housing is also a major part of his platform—he intends to focus growth around area transportation to reduce traffic and attract business.

Views on Cannabis: Roth is against vertical integration, saying it discourages competition and that collectives have “already been burdened enough by the city.” He’s also against Measure C, citing neighborhood safety and respect for the licensing process as reasons. “Licensing was difficult for the 16 collectives who went through the proper process to legitimize themselves. Measure C would essentially undo that."


Myron Von Raesfeld

Von Raesfeld is a former Oakland firefighter and current real estate agent. He wants to make the city safer through the creation of “firehouses” which would reduce response times for emergencies throughout the city. He also mentions homelessness as a key issue, which he plans to address by establishing designated camping areas and reconnecting the homeless with loved ones.


Views on Cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Von Raesfeld.


District 8 (Evergreen, Alum Rock area)

Pat Waite

Waite is an ex-financial executive who worked for several area technology companies. He’s committed to strengthening family relationships by sponsoring after-school programs for youths and maintaining a clean, safe environment at local parks. His plan to address the all-important public safety issue includes initiatives to provide more monetary support for neighborhood watch programs and increase traffic enforcement in school zones.


Views on cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Waite.


Jimmy Nguyen

Nguyen is a 38-year-old attorney who has run for City Council once prior in 2012. He plans to fight rising the rising crime rate by “utilizing savings and surplus funds to hire more police officers so we empower SJPD and ourselves against criminal offenders.” He also wishes to make the city more enticing to businesses by “streamlining the permitting process” to cut down on paper work and waiting periods.


Views on cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Nguyen.

Denise Belisle

Belisle is a local coffee shop owner who has served on the City of San Jose Council Appointment Advisory Commission. The heart of her campaign is focused on supporting businesses—she aims to fill a plethora of vacant properties to increase tax revenue and create local jobs. Her plan to strengthen public safety includes training CSOs to shoulder a larger load and analyzing new ways to improve traffic flow.


Views on cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Belisle.


Josh Barousse

Barousse is a policy aid for current Councilman Ash Kalra. He’s intent on creating a more competitive hiring system for police officers and educating neighborhoods on how to better protect themselves. To strengthen safety on the road, he intends to rebuild San Jose’s Traffic Enforcement Unit. He also plans to assist small businesses by supporting resources aimed at helping them get their feet off the ground.


Views on cannabis: “The son of my mom's partner, his name was Kyle Sutherland, passed away on April 1, 2012, to cancer, at the age of 29. In his last days, he was experiencing severe pain from head to toe, 24 hours a day. He relied heavily on his medical marijuana prescription so he can be at ease and comfort during his remaining days. Because of this personal story, I support medical marijuana, and I advocate that prescriptions are made affordable and accessible to those who need it.


I support the City of San Jose's current zoning restrictions, that [collectives] remain solely in zoned industrial areas, away from our neighborhoods and schools. Although I believe we should increase the number of allowable collectives and allow them to grow or manufacture off-site. This will drive more economic activity in out communities and also provide better quality medical marijuana. Also, from a supply and demand standpoint, with more allowable collectives, the cost of supply will decrease, making it more affordable and accessible for those who can really benefit from medical marijuana."


Sylvia Arenas

Arenas currently serves as a School Board member for the Evergreen School District. Her public safety initiative includes supporting police efforts to curb burglaries while installing better street lighting in neighborhoods. Education also plays a major part in her platform as she desires to “create new partnerships with private organizations to enhance education.”


Views on cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Arenas.


District 10 (Almaden,Blossom Valley, Santa Teresa Foothills)

Johnny Khamis

Khamis is the other incumbent seeking a second term in June. He plans to strengthen public safety by pushing for the opening of all fire stations in San Jose, and “procuring more funds to be spent on traffic and pedestrian safety near all schools.” He also intends to “encourage individuals, families, and organizations to adopt all of the parks in District 10” to help strengthen community pride.


Views on Cannabis: Khamis has proven over the years that he is in support of strong restrictions on cannabis dispensaries. He voted in favor of stringent regulations back in 2014, which included forcing collectives to produce all medicine on-site. “The reason why I am supporting this is because if we do nothing, if we vote for nothing, then we’re voting to continue not regulating the industry,” Khamis told CBS Bay Area after the vote.

Michael Sodergren

Sodergren, who currently works in the telecommunications industry, is running as a Democrat and is Khamis’ lone challenger. He hasn’t raised any money or accepted unsolicited donations in an effort to bring attention to influence of money in campaigning. Little information is available concerning his platform.


Views on cannabis: No public stance on cannabis was found for Sodergren.