CORRECTION (Published 5/28/2014)

A story incorrectly stated that 25th Assembly District candidate Teresa Cox was "the first African-American woman in the U.S. to earn a degree in engineering." Cox was the first African-American woman in the U.S. to earn a degree in nuclear engineering.

Five candidates -- four Democrats and a Republican -- are vying for an Assembly seat in a district that covers parts of southern Alameda County and the South Bay.

Running to represent the 25th Assembly District are Bob Brunton, a former Ohlone College board member; Kansen Chu, a San Jose councilman since 2007; Teresa Cox, a Silicon Valley company executive and Ohlone College board member; Armando Gomez, a Milpitas councilman and San Jose mayor's office budget director; and Craig Steckler, a retired Fremont police chief. The candidates say they aim to improve education, transportation, job creation, and the environment in the 25th District, which covers north San Jose, Milpitas, Santa Clara, Berryessa and Alviso in Santa Clara County and south Fremont and Newark in Alameda County.


Advertisement

For Brunton, the June 3 election is about growing the region's economy, helping small businesses and restoring the public's faith in government. The race's lone Republican, Brunton says he's part of a new GOP wave that will balance the budget, protect the environment and make business more fair so that entrepreneurs create jobs.

"I've talked to many small-business owners who've expressed frustration over the cost of doing business in California," he said.

He also calls for public school reform, saying that too many people seek to profit off the system rather than putting students' needs first.

Kansen Chu, meanwhile, said easing congestion in Santa Clara and Alameda counties through increased transit options ranks high on his priority list. Helping BART construction head south, "through downtown San Jose, all the way to Santa Clara," is crucial, Chu said.

So is handling the state's water shortage and improving schools, he said. "We need education, transportation and water to sustain economic growth here," Chu said. "It's critical that we continue creating jobs and sending people back to work."

Meanwhile, Teresa Cox said her varied work experience makes her the most qualified to serve.

Cox, the race's only female candidate, said she will work to ensure that California women receive pay equal to men for the same job. She also wants to improve the rates in which female study and work within the fields of science, tech, engineering and math.

"I was the first African-American woman in the U.S. to earn a degree in (nuclear) engineering," she said. "We need to encourage more females to go into those fields -- I know their struggles."

She also will focus on creating more jobs and improving schools and colleges. "I've long been a dedicated advocate for improving higher education, both statewide and locally," she said.

Armando Gomez said that having to make tough decisions for his constituents after the 2008 economic collapse has prepared him for the Assembly. Gomez said he made sacrifices to help San Jose get through its budget crisis, taking a 10 percent pay cut to help it avoid cutting more services.

"We're going to balance our budget responsibly and not pass our problems on to local governments, which is what the state does," he said.

Gomez said he has experience in bringing change, having worked on reforms for pension and open government.

"In Milpitas, I drafted an open government ordinance that went beyond the Brown Act requirements," he said.

Retired Fremont police Chief Craig Steckler is the only candidate who has not held elected office. But that's a benefit, Steckler said.

"I bring a different perspective, and I still have leadership experience," he said. "In law enforcement, we are problem solvers who make critical life and death decisions."

As chief, he ran Fremont's Police Department for 20 years, managing hundreds of employees and multimillion dollar budgets.

Steckler describes himself as progressive on most topics but a moderate on fiscal issues. He said he would donate his Assembly salary to charity because he already receives a pension from the city of Fremont.

"It would not be appropriate to accept a salary when I already have a retirement," he said. "I just want to be the best Assembly member that I can be."

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.

State assembly district 25
Bob Brunton
Age: 56
Occupation: Financial adviser/owner of electronics business
Party: Republican
Political Experience: Former Ohlone College board trustee, 1996-2008
Personal: Father of two
Website: www.bobbruntonforassembly.com
Quote: "I have the best combination of private-public sector experience to serve. I just want to get things done for constituents."

Kansen Chu
Age: 61
Occupation: San Jose councilman
Party: Democrat
Political Experience: San Jose City councilman, 2007-present; Berryessa Union School District board member, 2001-07
Personal: Married, father of two, one grandchild
Website: www.kansenchu.com
Quote: "I have a lot of experience. I've worked in high-tech at IBM, and in low-tech, by starting a restaurant. I consider myself a public servant."

Teresa Cox
Age: Declined to report
Occupation: Silicon Valley company executive
Party: Democrat
Political Experience: Ohlone College board trustee, 2008-present
Personal: Single, mother of two
Website: www.electteresacox.com
Quote: "I'm running for state Assembly so that I can turn my experience in high-tech, education and health wellness into results for our district."

Armando Gomez
Age: 41
Occupation: San Jose mayor's budget director
Party: Democrat
Political Experience: Milpitas councilman, 2002-present
Personal: Married, father of two
Website: www.armandoforassembly.com
Quote: "I have the experience of both an elected official and a policymaker, not just voting on policy but also working on creating policy."

Craig Steckler
Age: 70
Occupation: Retired Fremont police chief
Party: Democrat
Political Experience: none
Personal: Married, father of four, 10 grandchildren
Website: www.stecklerforassembly.com
Quote: "I'm a progressive on most issues and more of a moderate on the financial side. I can work with people on both sides of the political aisle."