Want an easy, quick way to learn how I think through the biggest challenges and best solutions in District 6 and the City of San Jose? 

 

I will focus on 6 priorities once elected:  

  1. Reducing the Cost of Housing & the Extent of Homelessness 
  2. Safer Streets & Smarter Approaches to Public Safety
  3. Growing, Celebrating, & Conserving: Improving District 6 Neighborhoods & San Jose
  4. A City for All of Us Means More Shared Prosperity
  5. An Accessible, Responsive, Transparent City Government 
  6. A Well-Run District 6 Office Working for You

 

Here's Alex's take on the big issues: 

  • On housing & homelessness: San Jose faces no greater threat to our future than the problem of how extremely expensive our housing is here. Whether you’re a homeowner trying to buy or a renter scraping by, housing is too expensive in San Jose. No parent should have to see their child move away because they can’t afford it, and no grandparent should have to leave when they sell their home. The greatest cause of this problem is we don’t have enough housing for all the people who want to live here. And it’s particularly hard for folks like grocery store clerks, teachers, & firefighters to afford San Jose. That’s why we need more duplexes, multi-story condos, and mid-rise apartment buildings. In the last 8 years, we only built 26% of San Jose’s affordable housing goal. So while incomes have risen for some folks in San Jose at the top, they haven’t kept pace for many others further down the ladder. And those folks can’t climb up the ladder if the next rung keeps pushing up beyond their reach. Nowhere is this more true than for the growing number of homeless people in our community over the last few years. If we want to bring down the cost of housing and the number of unhoused people in San Jose, we have to support affordable housing for working folks and permanent supportive housing for homeless people who need extra services in their buildings to get back on their feet. Solving the housing crisis also means people leaving entire homes empty for no good reason should contribute more to the solution. And it also means greater stability and protections for renters, who are often most in danger of being displaced by rising rents they can’t afford or control. We all deserve to live in the city we choose as home, whether we arrived last year or were born and raised here. We all deserve to live near our friends and family without having to leave ourselves or see those we love forced to do so.

 

  • On where development should go and how much there should be: I support San Jose concentrating new jobs and housing next to transit corridors, in empty shopping centers, and along major commercial streets. That means multi-story buildings next to public transit centers like Diridon Station and along major San Jose streets, which in District 6 includes Bascom Ave, West San Carlos, and The Alameda. I believe blocks of single-family homes should largely remain the same. New jobs generate positive revenue for the City of San Jose. And when you build enough new homes in a project – at least 40 to 45 homes per acre, which is a few stories – that also generates positive revenue for San Jose. It makes sense: it costs less to build up on existing land than out on new land where the city has to pay more to put in new infrastructure and travel farther to provide ongoing services.  More revenue for the city means better city services like smoother roads, better-maintained parks, and more services at our libraries. As San Jose gradually becomes a city with more buildings taller than a single story, this will actually benefit all of us. When we allow new development to occur, developers end up paying more city fees to cover city services rather than you and me. San Jose thrives when we have enough tax revenue from jobs and housing to afford the city services we all rely on and need. 

 

  • On safety: Police officers are asked to be all things to all people these days, doing everything from responding to crimes, writing reports, clearing homeless encampments, and navigating mental health breakdowns of community members. It’s too much. They need more support and resources. This aid comes from employing more social workers and mental health professionals to help respond when an individual needs mental health support but is not committing a crime. It also means increasing the use of our innovative, cost-efficient Community Service Officer program, which has been part of SJPD since 2014. Community Services Officers drive marked vehicles and wear city uniforms. They respond to non-emergency calls for service, patrol our streets, investigate crimes, offer resources, and help build trust between police and community members, all while enabling sworn officers to respond to higher-priority calls. I often say that a city is safest when there are more good guys than bad guys on the street. In 2004, I was robbed at 7 pm on a Tuesday night because the residential neighborhood I was walking through was empty at the moment I was held up. So we have to increase the number of good guys on our streets at all hours. That also means building mixed-use neighborhoods in which homes are closer to businesses, offices, and green space. That way, wherever you live, the coffee shop opens at 6 am, the dog park is active all day long, and the last restaurant closes at midnight. The people frequenting those places will almost always be the good guys who will make us feel safer. Finally, safety means designing streets that protect the most vulnerable from cars racing too fast through them: children, women, the disabled, anyone at night, and anyone bicycling or walking.

 

  • On revitalizing San Jose’s businesses & maintaining its neighborhood places: Coming out of the pandemic, San Jose needs a jolt in the arm to revitalize our local businesses, fill up our empty storefronts, & enliven our commercial streets. I know my neighbors and I felt the loss when the pharmacy on The Alameda closed down in 2023. I’ll put forward policies that first encourage property owners to lease their storefronts to small, local businesses, and discourage those who leave them empty for months on end. I’ll also always talk to small business owners struggling through city processes to collaborate on how we can make them work efficiently. I’ll propose business improvement districts on commercial corridors like The Alameda to make these areas more inviting for residents, visitors, and new investors. District 6 has so many iconic, thriving places we want to maintain like Lincoln Ave, the Rose Garden, & the SAP Center on game nights. It also has former gems like the Burbank Theater. For places like the Theater that could use revitalizing, I’ll bring together property owners and community members to envision solutions and build support for them. I’ll also pursue ideas like designating distinct “Districts” that build up our civic pride, create a sense of place, and draw people to them. 

 

  • On shared prosperity: As prosperous as San Jose is, in recent years, research shows it has become one of the most unequal places in the nation. The median income for a single person in our County in 2023 is $126,900! That means some people are doing quite well here, which is great. Yet so many people in our community are barely scraping by. When so many people have so little, it’s bad for all of us. It rips apart the social harmony of our community. It’s a major contributor to all the extra trash in our creeks, tents on our trails, RVs parked on our blocks, drugs dealt on our streets & mentally unstable people wandering around. San Jose is starting to remind me of trips I’ve taken to foreign countries where poverty is rampant. A key way to solve the blight, crime, displacement & unhoused neighbors we see in San Jose is to make sure we share the prosperity of this wonderful place that has allowed so many of us to thrive. It will make life better for all of us. 

 

  • On filling vacancies of city employees: San Jose deserves the best workforce around. That means we must attract and keep top talent by creating a well-paid workforce that feels respected by their leaders. I was flabbergasted to learn recently that city staff working as entry-level planners, as well as those two rungs higher on the ladder, all make so little money as city employees that they’re eligible for affordable housing. One of the reasons we have so many vacant positions at City Hall in multiple departments right now is that our employees can make more money (often for less work) in smaller cities next door to San Jose. To attract and retain the quality and number of employees we need to provide city services, we’re going to need to pay some of our city staff more. As the executive running a startup, my philosophy is to pinch pennies on everything except how much you compensate your employees because attracting and retaining top talent is the most important contributor to a successful organization. Your city services get delivered when we have a fully staffed city. Moreover, high turnover is bad for the bottom line because it means we spend more money on recruitment and training. 

 

  • On good government: I believe government can make our lives better when it is run right. That means a government that is as responsive, cost-efficient, transparent, inclusive & innovative as possible. That’s why, as your Councilmember, I’ll make sure my office responds to all constituent inquiries within 2 business days and that you can track the progress of your inquiries. I’ll also advocate that we only spend the resources we have at our disposal, a crucial lesson I learned while studying public administration and finance during the Great Recession. I’ll support efforts to publicly display – in an easy-to-understand way – how the City’s government is doing on our key priorities. I’ll also focus on issues that you tell me are most important and we can make the most difference. I’ll travel farther upstream to address city issues before they balloon into major problems and cost us more. Finally, I’ll constantly strive to generate new ideas to make government as innovative as this incredible Valley in which we live.

 

  • On community engagement: Let’s be honest, the government’s process for involving the community in its decisions is broken. It’s hard to find access to the right information, and even if you do, it’s often hard to understand because of all the government jargon. Those folks that do end up participating are usually the same few people. Community meetings tend to be a challenge to attend and you don’t always feel welcome when you arrive. If you make it to a meeting, you may find the conversation is full of anger and division as people vent their frustrations rather than brainstorm solutions. There’s rarely food, childcare, or interpretation for those who don’t speak English well to make it easier for a diverse group of people to show up. Moreover, you may not understand what’s being asked of you while you’re there. You also may not be informed of the larger process you’re plugging into. And you don’t often hear back from the government on what it learned from your input and how it impacted decisions. All these elements are often lacking because the City’s community engagement policy, 6-30, hasn’t been updated in nearly 20 years (since before social media even existed!). The City needs to revise its policy to require all city departments to implement a community engagement policy that invites everyone to the table, makes them feel welcome when they’re at it, encourages them to constructively collaborate with others around it, and tells them after they leave the table how their input is affecting decisions. 

 

  • On the environment & sustainability: Despite a wet winter here and there, California is stuck in a cycle of recurring droughts, continuing fire seasons, and hotter days. We must do more to conserve our resources. That means electrifying our homes and businesses quicker to rely more on renewable energy, driving fewer miles in gas-powered cars, heating and cooling our buildings more efficiently, protecting our hillsides and hinterlands from development, conserving our water, sustaining our city parks, expanding our trails and bike paths, and planting more trees. I’m proposing a ballot measure for 2026 dedicating resources to 3 key city services and environmental benefits: maintaining our parks, keeping up our sidewalks, and planting more trees. San Jose should be the greenest city in the country. Let’s make it happen! 

 

  • On transportation: Silicon Valley has some of the worst traffic around. Our transportation system is too reliant on cars to get anywhere. The best way to cut down on traffic, the time we lose stuck in it, and the pollution it causes, is to support a transportation system with more options. That means investing more in efficient public transit like rapid buses, faster light rail trains that get signal priority, building less parking for new cars that clog your neighborhoods, exploring new transportation innovations, and making it easier for all of us to bike, walk, take scooters, & share cars. We need lots of homes and jobs next to transit to ensure our investments in these publicly funded systems pay off. Transportation is especially important to me and District 6 because of how close we are to the airport, multiple trails & Diridon Station.

 

  • On making decisions on how I vote: In terms of how I make policy, I’ll be driven by the above priorities. I will think about how to do the most good for the most number of people. I will also think about how not to cause harm to anyone, especially those suffering the most. I will balance what data and research tell me is good policy with the people I serve. I will also weigh the unintended consequences a policy might not consider, the recommendations of city staff, the views of my colleagues, and what my constituents tell me they think is best.