Media contact: Pat Harris, 408-924-1748
San Jose, CA – Nearly a dozen Spartans are poised to make an impact on their communities after winning local elections on Nov. 4.
“One reason we see so many Spartan candidates locally is that SJSU students come from this region and when they graduate–unlike alumni of most universities–they tend to stay here,” said Professor Emeritus of Political Science Terry Christensen. “They come from the community and they are committed to the community and this includes public service in elected office.”
Most Spartans who run for office studied political science or public administration. Some majored in other fields. For example, Congressman Mike Honda graduated with a bachelor’s in Biological Sciences and Spanish in 1968 and a master’s in Education in 1974.
However, just about all SJSU alumni who run for office share experiences and traits that will shape their political careers and the communities they serve.
Our students and alumni reflect the diversity of California, with many coming from immigrant and working class families, and representing the first generation to attend and graduate for college,” said Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Political Science Melinda Jackson.
“Issues like immigration reform, public education funding, minimum wage increases and other efforts to address income inequality are not just academic for our students. They have a very real passion for these policy issues that comes from their own life experience.
“Many of our SJSU grads are inspired to pursue a career in public service in order to give back to their communities and to help the next generation of Californians succeed. The ongoing tradition of Spartan civic and political engagement is a point of great pride for SJSU!”
Legacy of Service
All of these alumni are building upon a long legacy of Spartans serving the South Bay and beyond, including Ben Nighthorse Campbell, ’57 Physical Education/Fine Arts, the first Native American to serve in the U.S. Senate, and Gaylord Nelson, ’39 Political Science, Earth Day founder, U.S. senator and Wisconsin governor from 1959 to 1981.
Spartans make good candidates and office holders in part because of this closeness to the community–a genuine grassroots connection because they are of this community,” Christensen said. “But they also make good candidates and office holders because SJSU gives them a hands-on, practical education.”
“Our classes have a real-world orientation and our political science majors (and students in other majors) invariably do internships–sometimes more than one–that give them not only practical experience in politics and public policy but also connections to an extensive local network of alumni who are eager to include and mentor recent graduates.”
These alumni were elected or re-elected Nov. 4. Know of more? Drop us a line by commenting below this story.
- Frank Biehl, ’75 Political Science, East Side Union High School District Board
- Dennis Hawkins, ’94 Business Administration, Oak Grove School District
- Mike Honda, ’68 Biological Sciences and Spanish, ’74 Education, U.S. House of Representatives, District 17
- Evan Low, ’03 Political Science, California State Assembly, District 28
- Raul Peralez, ’04 Mathematics, San Jose City Council District 3
- Andres Quintero, ’06 Political Science, ’11 MA Public Administration, Alum Rock Union School Board
- David Terrazas, ’92 Political Science, Santa Cruz City Council
- Omar Torres, ’11 Political Science, Franklin-McKinley School Board
- Roland Velasco, ’97 Political Science, Gilroy City Council
San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.