Although ethnically diverse, SJ city council described as inexperienced

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The current makeup of the San Jose City Council is the most ethnically diverse in years. However, it's also the most inexperienced with four members sworn in this month and the majority of the council is new to elected office.

Many of them are newcomers and young either in their 40s or under the age of 40. Eight of the 11 city council members have less than two years experience serving the Bay Area’s largest city.

At 32-years-old, Lan Diep is the youngest member. He was sworn in Tuesday holding a Captain America shield. He said government can be fun.

“It’s a mix of trepidation but also excitement,” said Diep. “There's clearly more responsibility being a public official, but I approach it with glee.”
“I think it's important for us to have fresh blood, fresh thinking, a new approach,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Liccardo is the most senior member with 10 years on the council. He recognizes the new faces have a steep learning curve to study the issues and among them is restoring police staffing.

“I think there's no question,” said Liccardo. “There's broad concurrence on this council to support public safety. We all know we need more police officers. We are going to vote on the police contract in a couple weeks and I think you are going to see a council as concerned as I am.”

Mayor Liccardo appointed Magdalena Carrasco as the new vice mayor. She’s one of three women on the council and among four members who were sworn in two years ago.

“There’s  a growing fear in some of the communities we will have to deal with that because of the new Trump administration,” said Carrasco. “We will have to talk about how we make San Jose prosperous for everybody not just for a few.”

“I think it's 50/50,” said Matthew Mayhood, president/CEO of the Silicon Valley Organization. “I think there's a very interesting divide across the council.”

From a business standpoint, the Silicon Valley Organization, formerly the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, is concerned with local hiring and living wage ordinances.

The organization sees the new council could be more progressive and forward thinking.

“They also need to think and pay attention to what the real impacts are to business as it relates to job creation and development projects that may or may not come out of the ground,” said Mayhood.