Editorial: Newcomer Tom Duong is best choice for San Jose’s District 7

San Jose’s District 7, one of the city’s most neglected regions, needs a leader who can unify its neighborhood factions along the Monterey Road corridor.

The district needs someone who can command the respect of other City Council members and convince them to address the district’s high crime rate and homeless population.

Incumbent Tam Nguyen is not that person. A disbarred attorney, his divisive approach makes him one of the least effective members on the council.

In contrast, Thomas Duong, a newcomer to the San Jose political scene, has the makings of a political standout. What he lacks in name recognition he more than makes up for in intelligence, energy and ideas on how to solve the district’s problems. We recommend him to District 7 voters.

Duong grew up in District 7 and has a political science degree from Santa Clara University. He served in combat in Bosnia and was deployed on a counter-narcotics team in South America. Duong rose to the rank of captain in the Air Force and was chief of intelligence operations of the largest combat wing in the Pacific Theater, charged with defending the Korean Peninsula. His leadership experience is unmatched in the race.

He returned to San Jose and works as a manager in mortgage lending. He is the president of the Asian Real Estate Association, making him better positioned to address the district’s housing issues than any other candidate. Creating more affordable housing is his top priority; he believes  more homes would also help alleviate the district’s homeless and public safety issues.

Of the other five District 7 candidates, Maya Esparza stands out as the most qualified. We hope she and Duong make the runoff. Esparza, who has the backing of the South Bay Labor Council, lost a close race with Nguyen in 2014. She is a respected former Franklin-McKinley school board member who previously worked on Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s staff.

Two of the four other candidates deserve voter scrutiny. Van Le, a current East Side Union High School board member, runs her own business and has good insights into how the district can improve its business climate. Jonathan Fleming has an admirable record working in District 7 neighborhoods, has done his homework and has good ideas for how to improve the district’s policing efforts. Chris Le’s “get-tough” approach is out of sync with both the district and the City Council. Omar Vasquez has potential but would be best served by gaining more experience before running for council.

Duong is the candidate who has the background and sharp mind needed to make positive changes in the low-income district. Voters should support him on June 5.

 

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