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June 12, 2021

South County political veterans crowd 2022 supervisor race

Four candidates have declared candidacy for District 1 seat

The election for Santa Clara County District 1 Supervisor is well over a year away, but the field of candidates is already packed with veteran local politicians.

Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine, former San Jose City Councilmember Johnny Khamis, County Board of Education Trustee Claudia Rossi and Los Gatos Vice Mayor Rob Rennie have all filed elections paperwork declaring their intent to run for the District 1 supervisor’s seat.

County Supervisorial District 1 is geographically the largest of the five districts represented on the board. It includes all of South County, as well as portions of south San Jose, the towns of Los Gatos and Monte Sereno and unincorporated areas to the west. The District 1 seat is currently occupied by Supervisor Mike Wasserman, who will be termed out at the end of 2022 after serving three elected four-year terms on the board.

The primary election for the District 1 seat will take place June 7, 2022, with the general election occurring on Nov. 8.

Johnny Khamis

Khamis was the first candidate to formally declare his candidacy in the 2022 District 1 election, and has already raised more than $55,000 for his campaign, according to paperwork he filed with the county elections office. He first filed forms related to the District 1 race in September 2020.

Khamis was first elected to the San Jose City Council in 2012, representing the city’s District 10, which includes Almaden Valley and Blossom Valley areas. He was reelected in 2016, and was termed out of the San Jose council in 2020 at the end of his second term.

He ran for California State Senate District 15 in 2020, but lost in the primary.

In 2022, Khamis, a former financial and insurance advisor, hopes to bring more fiscal stewardship and efficiency to the county government.

“I want to question spending, and make sure our taxpayers get what they’re paying for,” Khamis said.

Ongoing issues Khamis would plan to address as District 1 supervisor include mental health services, homelessness, traffic and housing, he said.

“I am going to be a big advocate for making sure we get the folks that are on the streets, the homeless, the help they need,” Khamis said.

Khamis began fundraising for the 2022 campaign late last year by reaching out to his friends, family and professional network, he said.

Rich Constantine

Constantine filed his first official paperwork for the 2022 District 1 election in March, declaring his intent to organize a campaign and raise funds. He confirmed his candidacy to this newspaper, but didn’t want to comment about the race until after he makes a formal announcement in the coming days.

Constantine, a retired firefighter for the City of San Jose, is currently serving in his second two-year term as Mayor of Morgan Hill. He was reelected in 2020 as the only candidate to appear on the ballot, and he picked up 90 percent of the vote against write-in candidate Steve Chappell.

Before he was elected to his first mayoral term in 2019, Constantine was elected to two four-year terms on the Morgan Hill City Council.

Claudia Rossi

Rossi is a longtime South County elected education official, currently serving as President of the county Board of Education. She has represented Area 7—which includes Morgan Hill Unified, Gilroy Unified, Evergreen and portions of Oak Grove East Side Union High School districts—on the county education board since she was first elected to the seat in 2014.

This year, Rossi is the president of the county board of education.

Before running for her current seat, Rossi served a four-year elected term on the Morgan Hill Unified School District from 2010-2014.

“I’m running for Santa Clara County Supervisor because I care about the health, safety and future of our community,” Rossi said in an email to this newspaper. “As a nurse and a longtime South County resident, I will be an advocate for all our neighbors on the Board of Supervisors.”

Having worked on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic in Santa Clara and San Benito counties over the past year, Rossi said the county government should take the “opportunity to rebuild stronger and better” as the public health crisis subsides. “This pandemic has shown us that there are weaknesses in our current systems, and too many vulnerable communities were disproportionately hurt over the last year,” Rossi said.

Rob Rennie

Rennie was first elected to the Los Gatos Town Council in 2014, and was reelected in 2018. He is currently serving as the town’s vice mayor.

“We are living through an unprecedented crisis, the impact of which will last far beyond today, but it is also time for great opportunities,” Rennie said in an April 12 campaign announcement. “I will bring my 25 years of experience as an engineer and tech innovator solving complex problems to challenges facing Santa Clara County. As Los Gatos Vice Mayor and a small business owner I have a unique insight into the toll that Covid has taken on local economies. I will continue to look for more opportunities to support our small businesses. I am committed to leading District 1 to a recovery rooted in equity and opportunities.”

Rennie’s campaign announcement says he has been a “climate activist and environmental steward” for more than 25 years. He has been active with the Sierra Club in Los Gatos, raising awareness of climate change, which he cites as a top priority for his District 1 campaign.

“As wildfires rage throughout the state it is obvious now more than ever that the climate crisis is both urgent and existential,” Rennie said. “Protecting the environment is a critical part of protecting the health of all.  Clean air and water and the preservation of open spaces are issues of utmost concern to protect our public health by reducing risk factors.”

Rennie has lived in Los Gatos since 1997, according to his biography on the town’s website. He has worked in the semiconductor and solar energy industries in the Bay Area since the early 1990s.

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