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01.28.09

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Obama Goes West

Ten years ago, in January 1998, Metro named Tony West as one of the people to watch in Silicon Valley, an up-and-comer. At the time, the Evergreen-raised Bellarmine grad was a federal prosecutor and member of the San Jose Planning Commission who had his eye on the District 3 Council seat being vacated by term-limited David Pandori. With degrees from Harvard and Stanford, West was one of the best-educated people ever to run for San Jose City Council. He was defeated by Cindy Chavez. In 2000, West ran against Manny Diaz for the California Assembly seat occupied by Mike Honda before he entered the U.S. Congress. Subject to a racially tinged, last-minute political hit funded by a previously unknown group, California Voter Project, West was branded as "The Oakland Raider." Diaz won. West left San Jose after that. He likes to recall that he was called "the best candidate to have never won a race." West struck up a friendship with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama while serving as a delegate for John Kerry in 2004. He played basketball with Obama and later served as finance co-chairman of Obama's campaign in California,. On Thursday, Jan. 22, President Obama named Tony West to head the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Division, which handles national security issues, consumer protection and constitutional issues. Clearly, West's career, San Jose's present and now the United State's future are different because the voters of District 3 didn't elect Tony West. It might have been West instead of Chavez who spent eight years as a council representative preparing for the 2008 San Jose mayor's race, a contest that could have turned out differently with West in the mix.


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