New City Council Members Take Seats in San Jose and Oakland
First-time members of city governments elected in November are taking office this week. On Tuesday, San Jose's City Council will swear in Johnny Khamis, a longtime financial advisor and businessman.
Although the office is nonpartisan, Khamis joins one other Republican on the council, supporting a fiscally conservative voting bloc.
He says his top priority is to work with the rest of the council to get the city's financial house in order. "It's going to be a more business-friendly, more taxpayer-friendly council, I would hope," he said. "I think we can't tax our way out of the budget deficits that we're in."
Khamis has lived in San Jose since he was eight years old, when his parents fled Beirut. He is the first Arab-American on San Jose's city council.
In Oakland, the city council has three new faces. Lynette Gibson-McElhaney, Noel Gallo and Dan Kalb were sworn in Monday.
Kalb echoed the sentiments of all three newcomers in stating that fighting crime should be the top priority. “If somebody puts before me a proposed two-year budget and it doesn’t increase the investigative capacity of the Oakland Police Department, I’m not gonna vote for it," he said.
Gallo said he supports youth curfews, and a controversial police tactic known as "stop and frisk". Oakland's city council has rejected curfews in the past. "Stop and frisk" has caused an uproar in New York and other cities.
Oakland also elected Pat Kernighan as the new city council president.