Three Silicon Valley candidates compete for State seat

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Jana Kadah
San Jose Spotlight

By Jana Kadah
San Jose Spotlight

A myriad of South Bay seats are set to open up with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s retirement — and one of the most contested may be the race for Assembly District 26.

Three politicos have already hopped into the race for Assemblymember Evan Low’s seat, with the incumbent eying Eshoo’s congressional seat. Low could not yet confirm he’s running, but said he’s exploring the possibility. The way the race for his seat is shaping up — along with sources close to Low confirming his intention to run — indicates he will likely be a congressional candidate soon. District 26 covers Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Santa Clara and a small part of San Jose.

“I’ve received an outpouring of calls and texts from across the district urging me to run,”Low told San Jose Spotlight. “Should I decide to run, it’s clear that we will do so with the diverse coalition of supporters and the financial resources necessary to win.”

Patrick Ahrens, Low’s right-hand man, has filed to run for his boss’ seat. Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee Tara Sreekrishnan and Sunnyvale Vice Mayor Omar Din are also entering the race.

Ahrens, 34, has been Low’s district director for the past five years. He’s also a member of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees, serving as president in the past two of his six years in office. He filed his candidacy papers on Nov. 21 before Thanksgiving. His endorsements include Pearl Cheng, a fellow district trustee, county Supervisors Cindy Chavez and Susan Ellenberg, Cupertino Mayor Hung Wei and Assemblymember Gail Pellerin.

“(I) have been engaging with friends and supporters in the district since then (and) have received endorsements from leaders across our community who I work with every day,” Ahrens told San Jose Spotlight. “I’m excited to be making a formal campaign announcement very soon.”

Sreekrishnan, 30, sports leadership roles similar to Ahrens. She has served on the county board of education since 2021. She could be considered state Sen. Dave Cortese’s right hand woman, as she currently serves as his deputy chief of staff and legislative director. She was previously Cortese’s chief of staff when he was a county supervisor.

Sreekrishnan is also the co-founder of Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action — a nonprofit that seeks to combat climate change through education and public policy initiatives.

“We live in a beautiful region, filled with great promise and great challenges. A lack of affordable housing, growing homelessness, access to quality education, traffic congestion, climate change and public safety are all critical issues that must be addressed if we are to preserve our quality of life,” Sreekrishnan said in a statement. “I am committed to ensuring that every child has access to quality education, every family feels secure and safe in their homes, and every voice is heard.”

Sreekrishnan is endorsed by Cortese, state Sen. Nancy Skinner, Sunnyvale Councilmember Linda Sell and Vickie Fairchild, a Santa Clara Unified School District trustee, among others.

Din, 26, comes into the race with a different background. He is the youngest and first south Asian and Muslim elected to the Sunnyvale City Council. He won the seat in 2020 and became vice mayor this year. He is also a governing member of the VTA board of directors.

Din filed papers to run on Nov. 27.

Din said he wants to build on the work he started in Sunnyvale and points to his leadership in creating a bus route to get North Sunnyvale students to high school in the south part of the city, as well as a guaranteed basic income pilot program that will deliver checks of $1,000 to low-income families. He also helped deliver 200 transitional homes for homeless residents in North San Jose. He did not share any endorsements.

Given my strong track record of delivering results and standing by my values, I will be a champion for our community in the capital,” Din told San Jose Spotlight. “I will fight for working families, for our Asian, Hispanic and minority communities and for a reduction in unsheltered homelessness. I have the experience to continue to deliver on these issues and many more.”

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