For Magdalena Carrasco, the prospect of working for the county once again feels like “going back home.” After all, for 11 of her 25 years as a social worker, she worked at the Santa Clara County Department of Family and Children Services.  As Carrasco embarks on a pursuit to represent District 3 on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, she got on a phone interview with The Milpitas Beat to describe her stance on the issues defining her campaign… 

Carrasco is looking to succeed Dave Cortese as District 3’s representative. She is running against IP attorney and former Sunnyvale Mayor and Councilmember Otto Lee, Former San Jose Vice Mayor Rose Herrera, Assemblymember Kansen Chu, and San Jose Planning Commissioner John Leyba. 

As a councilwoman, Carrasco has made issues such as minimum wage, rent control, and affordable housing the cornerstones of her career. Recently, however, she made noise concerning a different controversial topic: immigration. In a debate this past Spring between candidates, her opinion on illegal immigration was shown to differ from those of her opponents.

When a San Jose resident raised the topic of another San Jose resident that had been killed by an undocumented immigrant, and asked the candidates how they would address such crimes to “make the public feel safe again,” both Leyba and Lee agreed that the country must reevaluate sancuary city laws so as to avoid similar situations. Carrasco, on the other hand, contested, stating that although the incident under discussion was “unfortunate,” it was not intrinsically related to the topic of immigration. Rather, it raised issues of mental health, homelessness, drug addiction, and overall public safety. (Herrera had not yet joined the race at the time of this debate.) 

One of the reasons that Carrasco is seeking out a position on the Board of Supervisors is so that she has the opportunity to deal with matters existing on a larger scale, such as the environment and county homelessness. 

Carrasco deems homelessness one of the most pressing issues faced by the county. She points out the mental health and addiction issues that homeless people face, and how these issues are exacerbated when people remain homeless for longer periods of time…

“We are facing a housing crisis, we are facing a population explosion, we are dealing with mental health issues, we are having to deal with income disparities,” Carrasco said. “We’re one of the wealthiest valleys in the entire world. You have a disparity that is so very palpable. We have to make sure there is a space and place for everyone.”

Carrasco’s fight for the community’s most vulnerable people began in college. While still a full-time student at UC Santa Barbara, she worked as a house mother at a group home for youths transitioning from juvenile hall to the adult world. Many of these young people were gang members from financially broken backgrounds, Carrasco said.

“I believe that that is a very big reason I ended up working as a social worker — is that I got to see upfront the human aspect of an individual,” Carrasco said. “I slept in the same house with [the gang members], I woke up with them, I ate with them, I washed my clothes with them…I lived with them.”

Both the young people she worked with in the home and Carrasco herself came from financially challenged backgrounds, she said. The only difference between them was that her mother and father had created a support system for her, while those who were in the group home never had that same support. 

Carrasco grew up in East San Jose and attended Independence High School. She has served on the San Jose City Council for District 5 since 2015.

Shreeya Aranake

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