Magdalena graduated from Independence High School in San Jose and had worked for this community for decades. Growing up the child of immigrant parents, Magdalena learned the value of hard work and community service at a young age, a value that has propelled her to serve families, children and this community her entire life.
Magdalena was the first in her family to finish high school, and from there she went to UC Santa Barbara to pursue her degree in Chicano Studies. Magdalena worked her way through college as a caregiver at home for youths transitioning between juvenile hall to the adult world. She taught them life skills, conflict resolution, anger management and how to respect themselves and their communities.
After college, Magdalena came home to serve her community. Her passion for improving the quality of life for children and families led Magdalena to a ten-year career with the Santa Clara County Department of Family and Children Services. There, she served as a powerful advocate and spokesperson for the Foster Care and Adoptions Program.
Magdalena also served as a Family and Child Advocate with First 5 Santa Clara. At First 5, Magdalena has had firsthand experience with families and children in difficult home situations and has seen the profound ways violence impacts our community. In her role as a community advocate, Magdalena helps rehabilitate perpetrators of violence and helps their families get the help they need to get back on their feet.
She has brought endless energy to the abatement of illegal dumping and graffiti hosting countless of community clean-ups with more than 4,000 hours of volunteer service for these East Side projects. Every summer, she hosts a National Night Out event where over 3,500 residents come out to enjoy an evening of zip lining, BBQ, meeting their local police officers, and other fun activities. Also, over 1,000 students walk away with a backpack full of school supplies.
During her tenure, she is proud of the accomplishments that directly improve the lives of the residents of East San Jose and the entire city. She have focused policies on women and families including the passage of the Women's Bill of Rights, increased funding for services that assist survivors of domestic violence, attacked blight in our community, strengthened policies to address human trafficking, created paths for good paying jobs with city investment, developed a clean energy program, addressed infrastructure needs and are working hard to build thousands of homes for residents at all income levels while providing enhanced protections for current renters. She has continued to champion issues such as wage theft, open space, and early education. She has taken on the fight for equity within the cannabis industry, most recently introducing a memo to begin the development of equity permitting program to ensure those who have been most impacted by the prohibition on cannabis have equal access to the legal, economic opportunities in San José.
She was appointed by Mayor Sam Liccardo to be Vice Mayor from 2017-2019, the first Councilmember from East San José in over 30 years. In the past two years, she has successfully worked to increase women and people of color in our local political representation at all levels continuing her belief that the true goal of a leader is not where you stand but who you bring with you.
Otto spent his childhood in Hong Kong. At the age of 15, his family made the hard decision to immigrate to California due to rising political upheaval. Like many immigrant families, his parents made drastic career changes in order to provide for the family. While his father was an attorney in Hong Kong, he became a restaurant owner in America. They taught him the value of hard work and service. As a result of their sacrifices, Otto was able to attend and graduate from University of California, Berkeley with a B.S. in Chemical and Nuclear Engineering and then earn his law degree from UC Hastings.
Following the footstep of his grandfather who served in the US Navy during WWII, Otto acted on the dedication to service that his family taught him and joined the U.S. Navy. He first served active duty during the Gulf War onboard a Guided-missile Cruiser as the Ship’s Treasurer and Disbursing Officer balancing the ship’s payroll, while overseeing 45 sailors in the Supply Department including the ship’s store, laundry, barber shop, and the galley serving three meals a day for all 450 sailors onboard. He then served for two decades in the Navy Reserves, until he was recalled for active duty in Iraq. In 2008, Otto received orders for a one-year deployment to Baghdad. He served as the Chief of Drawdown Logistics Policy at the Multi-National Forces Iraq Headquarters, where he helped plan and execute the largest drawdown of troops since Vietnam, bringing over 150,000 troops safely home and closing over 200 bases throughout Iraq. During that time he narrowly missed multiple mortar and IED attacks, and delivered medics to tend the wounded after one of his close calls. After the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs was bombed, he led a large convoy to deliver large refurbished electric generators to keep the Foreign Ministry running at that most critical moment. For this yearlong service, he was awarded the Bronze Star. Last year, Otto retired from the Navy and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his 28 years of honorable service.
When Otto first moved to Sunnyvale over 25 years ago, he immediately became an active member of the community, working to solve our challenges. He served on the Sunnyvale Planning Commission and was then elected to serve on the Sunnyvale City Council from 2003 to 2011, including one term as Mayor. He achieved real results on pressing issues and was a leader on environmental causes. He passed the city’s single-use plastic bag ban, installing solar panels on city buildings, encouraged commercial development projects to build with higher green LEED standards and helped raise awareness on climate change.
Otto was also elected to serve as a Democratic National Committee member, where he helped propel House Democrats to win with one of the largest margins of all time in the recent “Blue Wave.”
Otto works as an intellectual property attorney in San José. Otto and his wife, Sally, reside in Sunnyvale with their three young daughters.
Rose Herrera is a veteran who has been a leader for increasing social justice since high school. While in the US Air Force she organized a council of military women to address issues of concern such as unequal treatment and harassment. She has served as a Veteran’s outreach coordinator, Vice-President of United Veterans Council, is active in Vietnam Veterans of America, and recently served as a consultant on affordable housing for Veterans at the Millbrae BART Station.
Rose earned her Bachelor of Science and Masters of Arts degrees at Santa Clara University. Later, she worked for the Own Recognizance Release program, where she evaluated defendants and made recommendations about who could safely be released awaiting trial, but did not have the financial capacity to post bail.
After working in the jail, Rose went to work for the Humans Relations Commission where she worked with youth, and the Si Se Puede project to host programs to help youth avoid gang involvement, including leading retreats with gang leaders to mediate issues and help reduce conflict.
Like many others Silicon Valley beckoned to Rose and she went to work in high tech eventually starting her own company. This experience taught her the challenges of running a small business. She is proud of the 10 years she provided jobs and services to her customers and providing job opportunities and training to enable non- technical workers to have a job and a future in Silicon Valley.
Rose ran for San Jose City Council in 2008. In spite of the most difficult economic times, and tough decisions to maintain city services, Lake Cunningham Skate Park was saved from cuts and Muni Water was saved from being sold and privatized. She fought for more recreational activities for East Side kids by securing a donation of 13 acres of land for a youth sports fields that will open this year. Other achievements include a new library at Evergreen Village Square, funding for the Light Rail to Eastridge Project and new BART link to San Jose, major freeway projects at 101 Tully and 101 Capitol Expressway were completed.
Rose led Economic Development on the Council for four years and became the Vice-Mayor for her last two years. In addition to chairing and serving on numerous council and regional committees Rose found the time to become the founder and first President of the California League of Cities Women’s Caucus. She served as the Veterans liaison to the City council and in 2016 under Rose’s leadership the POWMIA flag began to fly at City Hall 365 days a year.
Rose lives in Evergreen San Jose with her husband Matt who is a software engineer and their beloved dog Louis. They share three adult children David, Rose and Evan and two grandchildren Gavi and Ben.
Kansen Chu was elected three times to the State Assembly by the voters of District 25 to serve 40 million Californians in Milpitas, San José, Santa Clara, Fremont, and Newark. As a State Asssemblyman, he has worked hard to bring more funding for Transportation, Water Infrastructure, Housing, Mental Health Services, Public Safety and Education to our county.
Chu has proposed and supported legislation on these issues including working on AB 8 to put a mental health professional in every school statewide, securing $10 million to support training and recruitment of mental health professionals, and $8.5 million to support arts education. He is also working to improve training for 911 dispatchers through AB 680 to help them better recognize mental health crisis and provide on-the-scene peace officers with crucial information that could result in better outcomes, as well as better hate crime reporting and refresher training on hate crimes for peace officers.
As the Assemblymember, Kansen served on committees that are of his top interest.
- Chair of the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media Committee
- Assembly Insurance Committee, Revenue and Taxation Committee, Transportation Committee, and Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee I
- Assemblymember Chu created the Select Committee on Hate Crimes and is spearheading the conversation and policy changes to denounce hate and keep communities safe.
- Former Chair of the Human Services Committee
Living in the district continuously for 35 years, his decades-long community involvements include serving on the YMCA Metro Board, Vietnamese Volunteers Foundation, Restorative Justice Neighborhood Accountability Board, Asian Law Alliance, Chinese History and Culture Project and others.
Chu previously served on the San José City Council for seven years and the first Chinese-American to do so. During this time, he made public health and environmental issues top priorities, passing initiatives to require citywide green building standards and championed a ban on single-use plastic bags. He also spearheaded the installation of automatic heart defibrillators across San José as a way to save lives.
Chu also worked with community members to create the North San José Neighborhood Plan, established the Berryessa Business Association, helped start the Berryessa Farmers Market, and moved the long-awaited Commodore Park project forward. He served on 21 local and regional governing committees and represented San José on the League of California Cities and the Association of Bay Area Governments.
Chu was elected to the Berryessa Union School Board twice. A long-time advocate for education, Chu was elected to the Berryessa Union School Board District in 2002. As a school board member, he worked to bolster public education materials, strengthen curriculum and improve public access to school board meetings.
Born in Taiwan, Kansen moved to the United States in 1976 as a graduate student. He holds a Master's in Electrical Engineering from Cal State Northridge, and worked as a Microdiagnostics Microprogrammer at IBM for 18 years. In addition, he also owned and operated Ocean Harbor Chinese Restaurant for 16 years. Kansen and his wife Daisy have been married for more than 40 years. They have two adult children, Ann and Walt, a son-in-law Steve, and grandchildren, Kimberly and Connor.
Madison Nguyen is the Executive Vice President of The Silicon Valley Organization, formerly known as the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce. In her role, Madison is responsible for organization’s public policy, advocacy, political action, economic and community development strategies and tactics.
Moderator Madison Nguyen
Madison was born in Vietnam and escaped with her family in a fishing boat when she was four years old. She lived in various refugee camps in the Philippines before immigrating to the United States. As a teenager, she worked alongside her parents in the fields of the Central Valley to help support her family and later obtained both undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of California, Santa Cruz; and the University of Chicago. She published her first book, “Vietnam to America: My Journey of Dreams” in 2012.
In 2002, Madison ran for and won a seat on the Franklin-McKinley Board of Education and became the first Vietnamese American woman elected to public office in California.
Madison served on the San Jose City Council from 2005-2014 with four years as Vice Mayor.