Former Assemblymember Kansen Chu is looking to take back his District 25 seat in 2022.
After nearly six years in the state assembly, Chu announced in 2019 that he would not seek re-election and would instead make a bid for the District 3 seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Both California Assembly District 25 and Board of Supervisors District 3 encompass Milpitas.
At the time, Chu said he wanted to move closer to the place his family has called home for more than four decades. He made it to the November run-off last year but lost in a landslide to former Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee.
Former political advisor Alex Lee ultimately beat out a crowded field for the District 25 seat to become the youngest legislator in California in eight decades.
Chu told the Beat that he feels “strongly that Lee doesn’t represent the district” since he only garnered 15 percent of the vote during a primary election where he was up against eight other Democrats and one Republican. The Democratic candidates split the vote, sending Lee and Republican Bob Bruton to the November run-off, which Lee won with more than 73 percent of the vote.
“I decided to come back to work close to home because of my mom,” Chu said. “She is in a better place now, and I would like to go back to Sacramento to continue my work on public safety, mental health, transportation, housing, [the environment], and of course education issues.”
San Jose State Political Science Professor Garrick Percival told The Beat that Chu’s assessment of Lee’s support isn’t accurate.
“That was just a result of having so many people in the race,” he said. “The conservative candidate had the most votes [in the primary], but then got defeated in the general election.”
Percival added that while Chu has name recognition for representing the region for so long, Lee now also has name recognition since he’s the incumbent. Because Chu left the assembly to run for county supervisor, Percival said that Chu “does run into problems of presenting an image of not knowing exactly what he wants to do.”
Lee said he thought it was “unfortunate that he cannot let go –– especially after community groups told him to resign after last year’s racist comments.”
“South Bay residents knew his record and voted accordingly,” he added.
Lee was referring to an interview Chu did last year with the World Journal. The article was translated by Otto Lee’s campaign and the then-supervisorial candidate said Chu “referred to addressing systemic inequality as ‘entrance tickets,’ and insinuated that ‘many Hispanic American parents explicitly stated that they did not care about their children’s education, they are busy with their livelihoods, and they did not intend to let their children attend college.’”
Chu faced calls to resign from the assembly but responded by saying that he had been misquoted in the article.
Lee also told The Beat that, “in eight months in the assembly, we’ve done more than Chu has in his six years. And we’re just getting started.”
Chu has been a public servant for more than two decades now, beginning with his election to the Berryessa Union School District Board of Education back in 2002. During his second term as trustee, he ran for the San Jose City Council and represented the North San Jose and Alviso area from 2007 to 2014.
During his time in the legislature he served as the chair of the Assembly Committee of Health and Human Services.
Note: This article has been updated to include comments from Assemblymember Alex Lee and San Jose State Political Science Professor Garrick Percival.