David Cohen stands able to take away San Jose Councilor Lan Diep

by Carly Wipf
3rd November 2020

With 100% of the counted counts, challenger David Cohen has a 3 percentage point lead over incumbent councilor Lan Diep in the race for San Jose City Council’s 4th ward.

Cohen leads with 51.4% and Diep with 48.6%. There are only 515 votes between them.

With 58% of the ballots counted at 9 a.m. on November 4th, Cohen said he was positive about the results.

“Looks like the leadership is holding and I’m ready to work on behalf of the residents of District 4,” Cohen said. “It will take me a few days to rest and recover, and then prepare for the week ahead.”

Diep reminded his Twitter followers that the race is not over yet.

“I feel really good about how our campaign went and what we did,” Cohen said after the first vote was released. “We got our message out and reached the electorate and did everything we can to win the race. Now all we have to do is wait and see how the voters react.”

Diep did not respond to a request for comment until 8pm on November 3rd, but tweeted “Amor fati”, Latin for “love of fate”, an hour before the results were published.

The battle for the seat in District 4, like the race in District 6, was marked by conflicting goals from business and work groups in San Jose.

District 4 includes Berryessa, Alviso and the rapidly growing North San Jose technology center.

If Cohen, a progressive candidate tied to labor interests, wins, the current 6 to 5 majority on the San Jose City Council could shift in favor of labor interests. If Diep, a more conservative, business-friendly candidate, retains his seat, that majority – which includes Mayor Sam Liccardo – could remain intact. Such efforts have divided city leaders and influential organizations in San Jose.

Work-minded councilors Raul Peralez, Sylvia Arenas, Maya Esparza and Sergio Jimenez have come together to support Cohen’s election, while Liccardo, Vice Mayor Chappie Jones and councilors Pam Foley, Dev Davis and Johnny Khamis want Diep to have another four term Years wins.

Cohen, who beat Diep by 661 votes in the March primary, said he would vote differently than Diep on issues like affordable housing. Cohen said he has been pushing for higher commercial connection fees to support low-income housing projects and will prioritize residents’ needs when new developments are proposed. For example, Cohen recently criticized a council vote to add an flyover near a school – a move he believes is putting student safety at risk.

Diep is a legal aid attorney who was elected to the city council in 2016 and ousted one-year councilor Manh Nguyen with just 31 votes. Cohen has been a trustee of the Berryessa Union School District since 2006 and is a senior engineering manager at Lam Research.

Diep, who served on the San Jose City Council for four years, was heavily endorsed by prominent corporate groups such as the Santa Clara County Brokers Association, the PAC of the Business San Jose Chamber, and Carl Guardino, former CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

His greatest lawyer, the Silicon Valley Organization, advocated Diep’s business-friendly policies. The SVO recently disbanded its PAC after a racist image posted on its website sparked outrage across the city. The organization spent $ 212,342 on ads against Cohen.

Cohen has received support from progressive organizations such as the South Bay Labor Council, Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, and the Santa Clara County Democratic Party.

Diep came under scrutiny after former employees said he used the city’s resources to support his re-election campaign. Diep was also denounced by local Democrats for changing his party membership to Democrats after years of being a registered Republican.

His supporters say Diep is an independent thinker and has held the city accountable for its budget and for combating city-wide rubbish build-up.

Cohen said he was in favor of doing more to improve the availability of low-income housing and criticized Diep for extending the tax breaks for downtown developers. Cohen’s platform highlighted the community’s involvement as a weak point in the District 4 office and said it wanted to address the office’s slow response times to residents’ concerns.

As a trustee of the Berryessa Union School District Board, he advocated student mental health services and green energy, and wants to advance this policy at the city level.

This story will be updated in the morning.

Contact Carly Wipf at [email protected] or follow @CarlyChristineW on Twitter.

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