Monthly Archives: September 2018

Students debate their role in the upcoming midterm elections

By Nethan Sivarapu and Maxwell Taniguchi-King

Tahoma Multimedia Editors

While much of the world’s attention has been drawn toward the approaching midterm elections in November, a vast body of individuals seems to have been overlooked: students. We began exploring this set of voices as the midterms neared.

To investigate said student views, we set out to question various students at Summit Public School: Tahoma. As the individuals were questioned, many admitted to being uninformed about the elections.

The midterm elections on Nov. 6 will play a large role in politics for years to come. reports all 435 seats of the house, one-third of all senators, 36 state governors, three U.S. territory governors and many mayoral elections are on the line. With this amount of potential change, significant adjustments are expected.

Two major elections taking place during the midterms have grabbed attention: the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Senators hold six-year terms, with two senators being elected for every state. Currently, the Senate holds 51 Republicans, 47 Democrats and two Independents.

The House of Representatives consists of 435 positions, with each state assigned a specific amount of seats based on population. The current House consists of 238 Republicans, 193 Democrats and six vacant seats.

Evident through these numbers, Republicans hold the 115th Congress. This might change, though, as the midterms advance and bring the 116th Congress. According to FiveThirtyEight, although the Senate is predicted to remain under Republican control, House predictions favor Democrats with a four in five likelihood. This amount of potential change generated curiosity in what students think of the elections.

Approaching students at Summit Tahoma with different questions regarding the elections created a chance to understand the beliefs that students hold. Following these interviews, attention was brought to what other people think of students and their role in the midterms. To address this, we began locating an alternate, non-student, point of view.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, a politician raised in the Bay Area, represents Silicon Valley. During a press conference at Summit Tahoma, Rep. Lofgren answered a few questions relating to our student interviews. These questions reflected our previous interviews and introduced a new angle on the topic.

This video documents our interviews as we investigate students’ influence on politics and their opinions regarding the midterm elections in November:

Rep. Lofgren visits local school to talk about policies

By C.M. Bateman

Tahoma Editor-in-Chief

U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who represents California’s 19th Congressional District, believes young people hold the power in determining which direction the country is heading toward.


U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren explains her answers to student journalists’ questions. PHOTO CREDIT: Nethan Sivarapu

Rep. Lofgren visited Summit Public School: Tahoma on Sept. 21 for a press conference with the journalism students. She touched on many issues important to her, such as immigration, waste disposal methods, gun violence, renewable sources of energy, healthcare and education. She also shared her opinions on specific events, such as FEMA’s administrative procedure after Hurricane Maria and the recent Supreme Court nomination controversy.

Rep. Lofgren grew up in the Bay Area as the daughter of a beer truck driver and a cafeteria cook. Her parents, although they had blue collar jobs and no college education, firmly believed “they were in charge of the government” as voters and citizens of the United States. Rep. Lofgren described how her family would discuss the political climate during dinner and how she would tag along with her mother for precinct walking when she was as young as 5 years old.

She shared about her uncertainty as a young adult, wondering if she mattered in the world of politics. “I was brought up to assume that the direction of the government was my responsibility,” Rep. Lofgren explained. “I could have done other things … but I wanted to make change instead of money.”


Tahoma seniors and sophomores listen and take notes during the press conference. PHOTO CREDIT: Nethan Sivarapu

Rep. Lofgren identifies as a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a woman and a Democrat, and she aims to improve the quality of life for California residents and families.

When asked what it means for her to be a U.S. Representative, Rep. Lofgren responded that it means “trying to make sure what I do is in the best interest of the people I represent,” which at times can be difficult because her district houses approximately 700,000 people.

One such example of Rep. Lofgren supporting the best interests of the people, as she recounted, was fighting the banks during the mortgage crisis in the economic downturn of 2008. The banks were treating the people “just appallingly bad,” so Rep. Lofgren’s team worked toward better funding sources for affordable housing. She witnessed the real-life effect of her labor when she visited another school and met a student who hugged her and, crying, thanked Rep. Lofgren for helping her family save their home.


Rep. Lofgren describes her motivations as a representative of California. PHOTO CREDIT: Nethan Sivarapu

“We want to stand up for people that are being trampled by big entities, governmental or profitable, and that’s a component of representing people as well,” Rep. Lofgren said.

The same attitude was reflected in Rep. Lofgren’s stance on healthcare and her opinion on the separation of families at the border.

In regards to healthcare, Rep. Lofgren referenced the Affordable Care Act for helping a lot of people by making healthcare more available and getting rid of discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps for insurance coverage. She acknowledged that it “was not a perfect bill” and that it missed the mark on understanding the high cost of living in areas like Santa Clara County, which makes it more difficult to get better coverage. She stated that “the country would be better off if we had a Medicare-like system for the entire population,” because “people who are in Medicare love Medicare, and it is a lot less expensive to administer than private insurance.”


Rep. Lofgren listens as Tahoma City Editor Jacob Kahn-Samuelson inquires about her opinions on immigration. PHOTO CREDIT: Will Butler

When asked about the immigration policy of removing children from parents at the border, she described it as “wrong and immoral” and a “tremendous stain on the country.” She added that the immigration courts are not independent, which gives the Attorney General the ability to “re-decide” each case; as a result, she explained, this makes it more difficult because the current Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is anti-immigrant.

Despite the Senate and the House of Representatives both being led by a majority of Republicans, Rep. Lofgren pushes to make changes to improve living conditions for the population.

The Z’s to A’s Act, a bill sponsored by Rep. Lofgren, would push back school start times to 9 a.m., a problem she realized from her own kids struggling to begin school as early as 7 a.m.

Rep. Lofgren also advocates for improved waste disposal sustainability: “Waste needs to be seen not as a problem, but as an asset. If you start doing that, you start seeing waste in a different way.” She detailed a trip she took to the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility, a water recycling plant that takes in sewage and filters it into clean, drinkable water. She also mentioned the waste-to-energy plants in Europe, which take in trash and turn it into a source of energy (a possible solution to the United States’ inability to move waste to China, due to the country’s ban on plastic waste).


Rep. Lofgren describes her role as a member of Congress. PHOTO CREDIT: Nethan Sivarapu

Rep. Lofgren stressed the importance of teens and adolescents speaking out and standing up for what they believe in. “The voices of 18-year-olds count a lot,” Rep. Lofgren said. “If just 80 percent of people under 25 voted, our country would be headed in a much different direction.”

Rep. Lofgren uses her position to advocate for people who do not have the ability to voice their opinions, and she uses her office to propel California and the country in a positive direction.

Staff Writers Jacob Kahn-Samuelson, Avi Mehra and Kaitlyn Kelley contributed to this article.

Featured Image (at the top of this post): The students who participated in the press conference take a picture with Rep. Zoe Lofgren to commemorate the event. PHOTO CREDIT: Angela Nguyen

See below for a full video of the press conference:



EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was also published on San Jose Inside.

A closer look at the Trump Russia investigation

By Jacob Kahn-Samuelson

Tahoma City Editor

Russian interference in our elections is a serious and controversial issue that has resulted in 35 indictments or guilty pleas. President Donald Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and it is a highly divisive issue. It is important to understand what is happening, how the investigation started, who has been impacted by the investigation and what might happen next.

What is the Russia investigation?

The U.S. Intelligence Community has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election for a long time. In a declassified document released in Jan. 6, 2017, officials from the FBI, CIA and NSA document the Russian attempts to interfere.

This is an excerpt from the declassified document regarding Russian interference:

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goal were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

Another excerpt from that document talks specifically about the tactics used:

“We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.”

In the U.S. Intelligence Community, it is widely accepted that the Russians tried to interfere in the 2016 election. The Russia investigation is looking at whether or not the Trump campaign knowingly colluded with the Russian government.

Who is in charge of the investigation?

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel for the Russian investigation by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on May 17, 2017. Normally the Attorney General would be the person to appoint the Special Counsel, but the current Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation due to his connections with the Trump campaign. The responsibility fell to Mr. Rosenstein instead. Mr. Rosenstein chose Robert Mueller. Special Counsel Mueller is the former head of the FBI who is well-respected and is a registered Republican.

As of Sept. 25, Mr. Rosenstein is set to meet with President Trump on Thursday, and there is a chance he will be fired. If Mr. Rosenstein is fired, the person who would have the power to fire Special Counsel Mueller would be Noel Francisco (the Solicitor General). For more information about Mr. Francisco, see this article from Vox.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller

That was just a few days after the New York Times reported that Mr. Rosenstein had suggested secretly recording President Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment which would remove President Trump from office if the Vice President and the majority of the Cabinet determine the president “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Mr. Rosenstein has denied these allegations and is meeting with President Trump on Thursday, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.


Adam Schiff, a California congressman and the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, has come out in support of Mr. Rosenstein and believes he should keep his role as Deputy Attorney General.

What potential crimes were committed?

As of Sept. 19, 2018, Special Counsel Mueller has indicted or received guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies that are related to the Russia investigation. Some of the more notable people who have been indicted or who pleaded guilty include President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Both of these men have agreed to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for plea deals. The biggest portion of this list is Russian nationals and Russian GRU (the Russian military foreign intelligence agency) officers. The crimes being charged include making false statements to the FBI, identity theft, conspiracy against the United States and more.

What is collusion?

Essentially collusion by itself is not a crime; but it often accompanies a crime, and that is what Special Counsel Mueller is investigating. In an article from Politico, Paul Rosenzweig, who was the deputy assistant for policy in the Department of Homeland Security, explained: “Collusion is not a federal crime (except in the unique case of federal antitrust law), so we should all just stop using ‘collusion’ as a short-hand for criminality. But that doesn’t mean that the alleged cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia is of no criminal interest. To the contrary, if true, it may have violated any number of criminal prohibitions.” In addition, assuming a crime was committed, that likely involves a cover-up, and it is important to remember what caused President Richard Nixon to be threatened with impeachment was not the crime itself but the cover-up.

President Trump potentially faces a few crimes, one of them defined by the Department of Justice below:

“[i]f two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.” 923. 18 U.S.C. § 371—CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD THE UNITED STATES

President Donald Trump

How could this investigation affect President Trump?

If President Trump illegally conspired with a foreign power while running for president, it’s unclear what consequences he might face. First off, according to Rudy Giuliani (President Trump’s personal attorney and former mayor of New York), Special Counsel Mueller has said he would not indict a sitting president. Assuming this is true, President Trump does not have to worry about criminal charges, for now. But if he is impeached or voted out of office, which is a real possibility if the investigation finds President Trump committed a crime, then he could be criminally charged.

President Trump has tweeted numerous times about the investigation, claiming it is a witch hunt:

The Russia investigation is a serious and complex investigation that could bring down the Trump administration. President Trump frequently has called the investigation a witch hunt. He has tweeted the word “witch hunt” 127 times from May 17, 2017 (the day the Mueller investigation started) to Sept. 25, 2018, according to the Trump Twitter Archive. However, the investigation has already received 35 indictments or guilty pleas.

Featured image (at the top of this post): Robert Mueller is the Special Counsel for the Russia investigation. PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA

Belmont City Council election is upcoming

On Nov. 6, residents of the city of Belmont will have a very important decision to make. Three seats are open on the City Council, but four candidates are running. Candidates include incumbents Warren Lieberman, Julia Mates, Charles Stone, and newcomer Deniz Bolbol. Read the stories below to find out more about the candidates.


Newcomer Deniz Bolbol wants all Belmont residents to be heard

By Eliza Insley and Jon Garvin


This fall, on Nov. 6, Belmont will have its City Council election. There are three available seats with four candidates running. The candidates include Charles Stone, Warren Lieberman, Julia Mates and newcomer Deniz Bolbol. Ms. Bolbol is a Belmont community member who wants to see active change in her community after feeling let down by the current council.

Ms. Bolbol is the only candidate who is not an incumbent. Ms. Bolbol explained why she decided to run for city council during a phone interview. Ms. Bolbol explained, “I got involved because someone came to my door and told me what was going on in City Hall…I went down to a council meeting and saw how things were being run. The current council is not responsive…this council is not being respectful to the majority of residents and instead has their own idea.”

Ms. Bolbol was raised in Belmont and wants to give the residents of Belmont more of a voice. “My only objective here is to give everyone a voice because I think democracy is much stronger when we have a marketplace of ideas.” She explained that a free exchange of opinions means that “all different ideas get to come to the surface and then we can find the best idea.”


Deniz Bolbol

When asked about what issues she’s most concerned with, she said that over-development was an important issue for her. Ms. Bolbol believes that nature and open spaces are an important part of why people love living in Belmont. She argued that a push for over-development will have unintended consequences. “What are going to be the implications for infrastructure when we add 1000 or 500 or 300 new units? What’s going to happen to the schools when we add more kids to a classroom? What’s going to happen to our traffic when we add ‘x’ many more cars? Those are the questions that need to be asked.”                      

Ms. Bolbol said, “Another issue that is really important…is Cal Fire ranked Belmont as very high in wildfire risk…one thing we’d like to see is the city get really proactive about present wildfire tragedy…you can do a lot of things to protect residents and to prevent minimize the risk.”

According to Public Alerts, there was a large wildfire in Marin County which is in the Bay Area. The alert stated, “Marin County Fire is responding to a 5 acre Vegetation Fire in the area of Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Difficult access. 0% contained.” Marin County is about 60 miles away from Belmont.

When asked how being raised in Belmont affected her political goals, Ms. Bolbol said, “Well, you know, I love Belmont-so it’s probably a little more personal because I grew up here.”

For more information on Deniz Bolbol, click here.

For more information on the Belmont City Council election, click here.


Julia Mates talks Belmont Community

By Kai Lock and Garrett Kelly

Editor-in-Chief and Staff Editor

On Nov. 6, Belmont will have its City Council election. Candidate Julia Mates answered questions about the upcoming election and her passion for Belmont.

Mrs. Mates answered a series of questions related to the Belmont City Council Election in the following interview. Mrs. Mates explained that she chose to run for City Council because she started off as a planning commissioner, and she applied to the position of City Council to be able to see some of the plans on the Planning Commission be updated and eventually seen through. “I just kinda wanted to make sure we saw those through, and I would be able to do that with City Council.”


Julia Mates

Mrs. Mates talked about her priorities if she were to get elected, which included things that were already in place at Belmont such as the 9/11 emergency response, making sure that schools are safe and keeping the spread of wildfires under control.

She also talked about the housing crisis in Belmont and her plan to provide housing for their residents. She believes that the housing problem could be too big for Belmont to solve on its own, but that the City Council can keep things stable and lookout for new housing projects.

“It’s a huge problem, so I don’t think Belmont can take care of that housing issue on it’s own,” she said. “But making sure that, you know, we continue to build housing units and give an eye toward where we can place housing.”

She continued to talk about her passion for Belmont City Council on her website. On the site, Mrs. Mates stated that she is optimistic for the future of Belmont and that she hopes to see it’s community grow.

“I am honored to be serving you on the Belmont City Council to champion and maintain the quality of life services you expect and deserve.”

For more information about Julia Mates, click here.


Warren Lieberman Gives Insight into the Belmont City Council Election

By CC Logan and Carter Reid

Staff Editors

With the Belmont City Council election coming up, Warren Lieberman has been busy working on his campaign for city council. Lieberman has served as a Belmont city councilman / mayor for 12 years. With four candidates running, and only three spots available, Mr. Lieberman has his work cut out for him.

According to Mr. Lieberman, the way Belmont runs their elections is quite different. Instead of voting for a mayor, Belmont citizens vote candidates onto a city council, which is composed of five people who then vote on who will be mayor for the following year. A council member will serve a term of four years, although new ones swap in every two years. Every two years there is an election; this year three members will be appointed, joining the other two members who started two years ago. In two years from now, two more members will be elected to join the three elected this year. 


Warren Lieberman

This year, Mr. Lieberman is running for his fourth term on city council. Mr. Lieberman said, “I have several priorities. One is to do what I can to maintain and improve the quality of life for those folks who live in and work in Belmont and that can mean anything from improvement in our sports fields, maintaining our open space, improving traffic and working to improve and reduce congestion.”

One of Mr. Lieberman’s big goals is to bring back citizen lunches, where he would have lunch with a Belmont resident to discuss any city-related topic. He said, “I started a ‘Lunches with the Mayor’ program where every month we got six to eight people from the public who signed up to have lunch with me and our city manager and the city treasurer. And people began to learn about how their city government worked in a very relaxed environment.”

As for the other candidates, Mr. Lieberman has a good relationship with them and is looking forward to working with them to better improve our city.

If you want to learn more about his campaign, you can visit his website here.

If you turn 18 before Nov. 6 (Election Day), and you haven’t already registered to vote, you can register here.


Charles Stone talks Belmont development and infrastructure

By Nicholas Reed and Armando Sanchez

Arts Editors

Charles Stone is from San Mateo County in California. He’s lived his life in Daly City, San Bruno and before moving to Belmont with his family. There, he began taking notice of the issues in the city, and he decided he needed to do something about it.

Mr. Stone is a graduate of UC San Diego. He obtained his law degree from University of Santa Clara. He is the owner of a private practice and works as an attorney in the greater Bay Area, based in Belmont.

He began doing volunteer work, and he was then elected to the school board. He ran for council for the first time in 2014, winning a seat.

Since his community involvement has often involved children, he has a very youth-friendly lens for looking at issues, and he often thinks of the future when tackling difficult problems involving development.

Mr. Stone has a very pro-development standpoint, advocating for more housing projects including low-income housing across Belmont. He also advocates for higher sales taxes to help pay to fix Belmont’s failing infrastructure, including its crumbling roads.

Mr. Stone also plans to bring more business into Belmont, as he has already seen the building of a Mercedes dealership and Crystal Springs Upland School. Mr. Stone has plans to build a vibrant downtown in Belmont, which is one of the tenants of the Belmont specific plan.

Since Mr. Stone is running for re-election, we asked him what he would do differently this time around (if he is the chosen candidate). His response was that he would definitely attempt to work more collaboratively than years prior and that he would try to break the status quo and breach barriers. He also mentioned how he prides himself on becoming a part of a council that people wish to emulate.

Quickly following his answers to what he would do differently, we asked him what he would do the same. He said he wanted to keep his time focused not just on Belmont issues but state and county issues too. He also mentioned how if re-elected he would have extended time to fix things like the sales tax going from 10 to 12 percent.


Charles Stone

After that we asked Mr. Stone if this year specifically had big things on the ballot. He responded by explaining that governing requires individuals who understand how to compromise and how to disagree without being disagreeable, adding that “the current council is like that.” indicating that the current council attempts emulate that ability to compromise. He also states that “the county has all sorts of plans.”

He also talked about his competition. He stated that there are no “niche groups” and that stereotypes of NIMBY old people aren’t true. He also stated that he has no specific demographic he is aiming for and mentioned how younger people could affect him as much as older ones.

This will be Mr. Stone’s second time running for council. He’s currently running alongside three other candidates for three seats on the council. The election will be on Nov. 6.

San Jose City Council members prepare for Nov. 6 elections to take office again

By Keith Dinh

Rainier Editor-in-Chief

Many of the politicians in San Jose have made a difference for everyone in the past and are still making differences as we speak. These people have been through the hard process of campaigning, and many of them have needed to get closer to the voters and make themselves seem as if they were average people, trying to make a difference. To do this, many of them share their own personal life stories as to how they have come to be here, and many of them also talk about their past careers and qualifications. This article will shed light and touch on how some of these city politicians have gotten to where they are now, what their beliefs are, how they aim to influence society, and will introduce some of their goals and accomplishments for society.  

San Jose City Council: District 1


San Jose City Council Member of District 1, Charles Jones

San Jose City Council member from District 1, Charles Jones, also known as “Chappie,” was elected for office in November 2014 with 60 percent of the vote. He spent his early years in the city of Sacramento, and, in 1990, moved with his family to San Jose. He was raised by his parents with the ideals that he should participate in helping out his city and community as much as he can. To this day, he still holds those values as he helps the people of his district in various ways to meet the needs of the community.


Mr. Jones, whose term in office expires at the end of this year, went on to win re-election earlier this year in June. In 2014, the race for his current term, Mr. Jones ran against six others in the primary elections, and, this year, he ran unopposed, winning all 12,440 votes of the 12,440 who voted. He holds many other titles in the City of San Jose such as the following: Vice Chair of the Public Safety, Finance, and Strategic Support Committee (PSFSS); Liaison of the Board of Fair Campaign & Political Practices (formerly Ethics Commission); and many more. He still lives up to his own standards and helps out his community in many ways besides just carrying his main title. By the end of this year, he will continue to be in office and serve the people of San Jose’s District 1 for another term of four years.

For more information about Council member Charles Jones, access these links here and here to read more about his qualifications for this position.

San Jose City Council: District 2


San Jose City Council Member of District 2, Sergio Jimenez

Sergio Jimenez, San Jose City Council member from District 2, has quite a story to tell. Born in Mexico, Mr. Jimenez came to the United States at the age of three and has been a San Jose resident for 37 years. Just in 2008, Mr. Jimenez gained citizenship and was able to participate in government positions. He has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a master’s degree in Public Administration. Mr. Jimenez has worked hard, from being an immigrant to living the life of a community person and being a city councilman in the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose.

Prior to his election as city councilman, Mr. Jimenez spent six years serving in the city of San Jose’s Parks & Recreation Commission, serving two years as a chairman. He has also previously worked as an investigator for the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office, serving the judicial system. He has worked and spoken to many people and has witnessed what crime can do to families. Mr. Jimenez won his first term as a San Jose City Council member from District 2 in 2016, and he put priorities such as safety, housing, and homelessness first for the people of San Jose. He has lived what we call the American Dream, and he is constantly working to making dreams become a reality for his district.

For more information about Council member Sergio Jimenez, access these links here and here to read more about his qualifications for this position and background.

San Jose City Council: District 3


San Jose City Council Member of District 3, Raul Peralez

Raul Peralez is another council member whose term is ending this year. He serves San Jose’s District 3 and is going for his second term in office. He is currently unopposed as of the primary election in the summer, earlier this year, and he is going on to the general election this November, along with a handful of other council members who have served San Jose with him in City Hall.

After being the first to get a degree from college in his family, Mr. Peralez became an educator and stared substitute teaching after graduating from San Jose State University (SJSU). He later became a policeman and joined the San Jose Police Department in 2007. In 2014, Mr. Peralez ran for office and won. With his background in education and being a part of the San Jose police force, Mr. Peralez stressed safety and education the most in his campaign, and still does to this day, along with public vitality and addressing issues of the homeless, park associations and schools.

For more information about Council member Raul Peralez, access these links here, here, and here to read more about his qualifications for this position and background.

San Jose City Council: District 4


San Jose City Council Member of District 4, Lan Diep

Hailing from District 4 of San Jose, City Councilman Lan Diep has made quite the impression of himself to the general public and City Hall. He was born in Houston, Texas to parents who fled Vietnam and the poverty of war at the time. After moving to San Jose and being raised by his mother, he attended Independence High School.

In his campaign in 2017, Mr. Diep won against incumbent Manh Nguyen: he won by 28 votes, which resulted in a called-for recount, and brought the win to 17 votes ahead. A second recount still resulted in a win for Mr. Diep. How he got his reputation: Mr. Diep brought the shield that was used in the filming of the film “Captain America” to his inauguration and wore it proudly, as he says that he wants to make politics and government fun. He takes this pride with him every day as he continues to serve the people of District 4.

For more information about Council member Lan Diep, access these links here and here to read more about his qualifications for this position and background.

San Jose City Council: District 5


San Jose City Council Member of District 5, Magdalena Carrasco

Serving District 5 is the Vice Mayor of San Jose, Magdalena Carrasco. She recently won the  election in June of this year, beating the incumbent with 69 percent of the overall vote. Growing up and being raised by immigrant parents, Ms. Carrasco has learned many life skills that have brought her to where she is now.

Graduating from Independence High School and later UC Santa Barbara, Ms. Carrasco worked for many years as someone who helped as many as she could in her community, from helping kids transition out of juvenile hall to teaching children to respect themselves and build their community. She stresses advocacy   for all people in her district, including the youth, and she continues to do so as often as her time permits her.

For more information about Council member Magdalena Carrasco, access these links here, here, and here to read more about her qualifications for this position and background.

San Jose City Council: District 6


San Jose City Council Member of District 6, Devora Davis

Council Member Devora Davis serves San Jose’s District 6, and she focuses on the beautification of her district, working to make the community safer for public interactions for her people. Growing up in North Dakota, Ms. Davis worked on a farm as a child, delivered newspapers, and managed as a truck driver up until college. She has acquired a strong work ethic from her childhood experiences, and she continues to try to give people her best efforts in trying to build and better the community more than it already is.

Ms. Davis has spent 12 years as an education researcher and comes from Stanford University, with master’s degrees in Public Policy and Education Policy as well as Organization and Leadership. She holds many other titles, and she also represents San Jose in many other organizations for the area and California as well.

For more information about Council member Devora Davis, access these links here, here, and here to read more about her qualifications for this position and background.

San Jose City Council: District 7


San Jose City Council Member of District 7, Tam Nguyen

Tam Nguyen serves as the San Jose City Council member from District 7. He immigrated to the United States in 1975, at the age of 18, and settled in Missouri. He later came to San Jose and worked as an engineer while taking MBA courses in his free time. After working as an engineer for some time, Mr. Nguyen realized that the Vietnamese-American community had little representation in society and the public, so he decided to leave the field of engineering to attend Lincoln Law School after receiving his MBA. He gained his Juris Doctorate in Law, and became an attorney to multiple organizations and represented many prominent Vietnamese leaders in the area. He has a strong heart toward the Vietnamese community in San Jose, and he has been very active in advocating for the voice of the people for over 30 years.

Currently, Mr. Nguyen is on his first term as council member to District 7. He has won the primary election earlier this summer, and is currently in a runoff election. His priorities for his district are safety, homes and families. He is pushing for more police presence to keep crime under control, is working to clean the community by organizing weekly cleanup days which he attends, and is on call at any time, even outside work hours to help people in his district with whatever they need from cleaning up their streets, to fixing homes together, to coming to help children with their studies after his hours at a local community center.

For more information about Council member Tam Nguyen, access these links here, here, and here to read more about his qualifications for this position and background.

San Jose City Council: District 8


San Jose City Council Member of District 8, Sylvia Arenas

San Jose City Council member for District 8, Sylvia Arenas, is on her first term in office. She has been serving her district since her election in 2016, and she still has two more years in office. She has worked with many organizations in education in the past, and she is still a fighter for education, children, and families. She was also elected onto the Evergreen Elementary School District Board of Trustees in California.

On top of working to better the education in her community, Ms. Arenas has stressed public safety, which was a main theme in her campaign. She is working to reduce burglary, better the traffic, and fix or replace street lights. She still, to this day, works hard to serve her people, as a local democratic leader to the people of her district.

For more information about Council member Tam Nguyen, access these links here and here to read more about her qualifications for this position and background.

San Jose City Council: District 9


San Jose City Council Member of District 9, Donald Rocha

Council Member Donald Rocha of District 9 has addressed many issues to San Jose as a whole, not just his own district. He has served on joint city/county task forces to stress public safety, and he has improved the number of developing projects for healthcare of the people in his community. This year will be his final year as a city council member, for he has served a total of two terms in office. The veteran councilman has spent many years in this position, and he feels that he can put himself to more use elsewhere.

Mr. Rocha is currently campaigning to be part of the County Board of Supervisors, which oversees the government in all cities within the County of Santa Clara. He will be able to facilitate the work of many other cities, not just San Jose, and he will be able to make a difference, still, as a member of our larger community. As of June this year, six politicians ran in primary elections for office, and two are to advance to the general elections this November in a runoff election. It is apparent that the election for this particular seat could, “significantly shift the balance of power on the 11-member council,” according to

For more information about Council member Donald Rocha, access these links here, here, and here to read more about his qualifications for this position and background.

San Jose City Council: District 10  

Johnny Khamis Headshot - web

San Jose City Council Member of District 10, Johnny Khamis

Johnny Khamis is the Council Member for District 10. Mr. Khamis attended Oak Grove High School, and he later graduated from San Jose State University with degrees in Business Management and Communication. He started his own company, Western Benefit Solutions, and has been recognized by the Silicon Valley Organization as San Jose’s business advocate of the year. On top of that, “Johnny is also the former chair of the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission and the San Jose Small Business Development Commission,” according to his website.

With his second term in office ending in 2020, he has a few more years to make a difference to our community. Though he would no longer be able to make a difference in his current office in a few years, he has considered running for mayor, as well. Like many of his co-workers at City Hall, Mr. Khamis stressed public safety, family values, and education in ins campaign, and he still adheres to his campaign as he is running through his final years as District 10’s council member.

For more information about Council member Johnny Khamis, access these links here and here to read more about his qualifications for this position and background.

As we have seen, many of San Jose’s City Council Members have worked hard at their campaigns in the past, and many of them are still running for future terms. All politicians must have their set of standards that they have to run and adhere by them to please the people they serve to be able to run for a second position. We put our faiths, futures and hopes in their hands, and many of them put their life into helping us and what they stand for.

As of earlier this summer, council members from Districts 1, 3, 5, and 7 all ran for re-election, while politicians from District 9 are campaigning for the empty seat. This fall on November 6, the San Jose City Council members will be elected for those districts at the same time as the Mayor of San Jose and the midterm elections. During this time, California’s governor will also be elected as well as our State Representatives for the House. With so many elections going on, there could be a possible shift in power of which political party has control over society, even on a city-community level.



Summit Rainier now offers Ethnic Studies as a course

By Judy Ly

Staff Writer 

Summit Public Schools has been open for 15 years, and this is the first time the course Ethnic Studies has ever been offered at the Summit Public School: Rainier campus in Eastside San Jose.  Ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary curriculum that teaches about other ethnicities’ significant social impact on U.S. history.  Here at Summit Rainier, we welcome the curriculum with open arms; however, in places like Arizona, politicians did not only dislike the idea of this class, they fought to ban it and succeeded in doing so.  

In class, Rainier students watched the Independent Lens documentary Precious Knowledge.  The film takes place in Arizona and shows how a group of students, most of whom are of Latinx descent, become empowered through the curriculum once they start learning about the history of themselves.  Even with the positive effects the program had on the students, conflict soon arose between politicians and the students.

In an excerpt of the documentary, Tom Horne, former politician and Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction at the time, critiques the Ethnic Studies curriculum by saying, “There are better ways to get students to perform academically and want to go into college then to try to infuse them with racial ideas.” When asked if he thought Ethnic Studies was doing anything right, he added, “I really don’t, no. I think they should be abolished.”

House Bill 2281, the ban on Ethnic Studies in Arizona that got passed in 2010, claims the course teaches pupils to “resent or hate other other races of people.” In the ban, it also says it prohibits any class or program that seeks to “promote the overthrow of the United States government.”

Despite what the ban claims, students within the documentary say the class had only helped them understand themselves better and unify.  Students at Summit Rainier joined the class with the same objective.

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Rainier junior Alan Do

When asked why he joined Ethnic Studies, Rainier junior Alan Do said, “I wanted to learn more about the history of marginalized people, and I also want to explore my own identity.”  He continued, “I think going to a class that teaches everyone about each other’s history and each other’s people really allows me to understand people’s backgrounds a lot more.”

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Rainier senior Michelle Thai

Rainier senior Michelle Thai said, “It’s important because you’re learning about your own identity, and that’s really empowering because I feel like people these days, especially minorities, don’t feel as empowered in America.”

The Ethnic Studies instructor at Summit Rainier, Angel Barragan, is hoping for students to not only feel empowered but also to have the academic benefits that come alongside with being enrolled in an Ethnic Studies course. In a study of 1,405 ninth graders, conducted by Stanford and San Francisco Unified School District, students who had eighth grade GPAs below 2.0 were automatically enrolled in Ethnic Studies, while the students who had eighth grade GPAs above 2.0 were able to choose whether or not to enroll in that specific class.  Stanford News states, “The researchers found that attendance for those encouraged to enroll in the class increased by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points and credits earned by 23.”

When the students in Arizona heard that local politicians, including Mr. Horne, were advocating to ban the course by law, they began protesting. They even caught wind of the local politicians having a meeting to discuss the ban and went into the building to protest for their right to the education that made a difference in their lives.

Rainier senior Edwin Escobar said, “I’m not a big protester, however, I think that what really inspired me the most was the people who were low-income, who are minorities.” He added that many minorities are going through a financial struggle, are immigrants, or come from a single-parent household, “so these students are already struggling to just


Rainier senior Edwin Escobar

work well towards the system, to have a working system for them … when they find the Ethnic Studies class, these kids got engaged, and they sort of left behind all the problems they had, and they focused on what matters to them. They developed a recognition to the importance of studying about their history, and they fought for it and that’s what really inspired me.”

Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed HB-2881, banning classes for a specific ethnic group, which basically shut down Ethnic Studies. This resulted in the Tucson Unified School District shutting down their Mexican American Studies program. In addition, politicians also ruled to ban certain books.  In 2017, there was an article published by NBC News saying Judge Wallace A. Tashima claimed that these bans on books and Ethnic Studies courses were “unconstitutional.”  

When asked why he thought the Ethnic Studies curriculum is so controversial and why politicians might feel the need to ban it, Mr. Barragan answered, “[The politicians] say that the classes are the ones in fact racist, that they were teaching students to overthrow the government, about being with your own race and not mixing with others, but all those things are false.  All these classes are about becoming good 

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Ethnic Studies teacher Angel Barragan

Americans and what it means to be united through our different struggles. I think that’s why; I think they’re afraid of students being able to find their strength and power.”

When asked why Ethnic Studies was important, Escobar said, “What builds America is diversity; and, if you have diversity, there’s history behind diversity.” Escobar explained how if the United States was just a white country, then its history would mainly be about white history. In most schools, the curriculum is still mainly about the dominant culture’s history. For the people of color who crucially influenced American history, their stories weren’t told because they aren’t as powerful as the dominant culture. Ethnic people were totally disregarded from U.S. history, and Ethnic Studies curriculum seeks to address that imbalance. 

Escobar concluded, “If history is such an important concept in America, then why is it that we only have to learn one type of history and it’s the only type of  history permitted in America?”

The Summit News team will be following this class throughout the year.  

Featured image (at the top of this post):  The Ethnic Studies teacher, Angel Barragan, hosted an event called Why Ethnic Studies Matter when he was president of the Ethnic Studies Student Organization at San Francisco State University.  PHOTO CREDIT: Angel Barragan.

Rainier journalists speak to San Jose City Council member Tâm Nguyen in press conference

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Sept. 12, student journalists from Summit Public School: Rainier held a press conference to meet San Jose City Councilman Tâm Nguyen. The council member talked about his story, how he became a politician and what makes up his campaign for the Nov. 6 election. Mayor Liccardo and council members Jones, Jimenez, Peralez, Diep, Carrasco, Davis, Arenas, Rocha and Khamis graciously declined an invitation to join the event.



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Staff Photographers Juan Ambrosio, Sabrina Guzman Nava, Brayan Lozano, Khanh Nguyen and Abel Rangel contributed photos to this slideshow.


City Council Member Tâm Nguyen aims to improve the community one step at a time

By Christian Frias, Abel Rangel, Alisha Redmond and Jasmine Villegas

Staff Writers

City Councilman Tâm Nguyen aims to improve community one step at a time using small and attainable goals. He said he didn’t have big names advocating for him or lots of money, but he had the support of the community by his side.

Mr. Nguyen said it’s impossible to win a race “if you don’t have community support.” At a press conference at Summit Public School: Rainier on Sept. 12, he explained that before you can accomplish anything as a politician, “You got to be one of them; you got to be part of them first.”

When he first began running for City Council, he made big plans. Later he realized he needed to set smaller and simpler goals to ensure that real progress would be made, rather than making big promises that couldn’t all be kept.Mr. Nguyen talked about how he planned to make small changes in the community that little by little would make a world of difference for everyone.

Mr. Nguyen said that on Saturdays he makes time to help clean around the neighborhood in the community to make things better for the people who live there. Although it is not a big project, it is something that slowly but surely improves the community.

He later added that he would like to increase law enforcement by getting more police officers on the street to keep crime rates down and ensure the people’s safety.  

Mr. Nguyen said that when he first started running his campaign he “heard bad things about politicians,” such as the Little Saigon fight in San Jose that occured because the community disliked how the person in office was deciding to handle certain situations.

On Nov. 15, 2007, the Mercury News reported that council member Madison Nguyen was trying to stop the community from turning on her because of the Little Saigon conflict. People were upset because even though mostly everyone who lived there expressed that they wanted the neighborhood to be named Little Saigon, Ms. Nguyen ignored them and instead went ahead with her own name for the area – one that she felt would attract non-Vietnamese people as well.  Because of her refusal to name it Little Saigon, many people became infuriated with her choices, held many protest against her and called her a traitor.

The Mercury News later explained that the conflict got so heated that Ms. Nguyen faced “threats of a recall from Little Saigon supporters who say she is siding with her business associates instead of the people who voted her into office.” Because of these reasons the community went to Mr. Nguyen to hopefully drive the council into a better direction.

“When her time was up in 2014, people in the community said, ‘Tâm, we want you to be a city council member.’ And because people kept pushing the idea on him, he later agreed and decided that he did in fact want to run for City Council. Ever since, he’s been making sure to always listen to the community and to put the people first in all situations to become stronger and better together.

Mr. Nguyen has shown himself to be a good councilman; rather than making large plans that might be difficult to accomplish, he instead makes smaller, simpler, easier to reach goals that better the community. This, along with his general concern for the people’s well-being and his willingness to listen to the opinions and feedback of his supporters, has made him a well-liked and trusted council member.


Councilman Tâm Nguyen’s responsibility with the Immigrant Community

By Brayan Lozano, Inderpal Sivia and Christina Velez

Staff Writers

As an immigrant, San Jose Councilman Tâm Nguyen feels he is responsible for supporting the immigrant community in his district. He told his story to reporters at Summit Public School: Rainier on Sept. 12.

If he had not been allowed into this country as a young refugee, he asked, “Where would I be?” Mr. Nguyen is an immigrant himself; he said he came here a very broken and broke college student, as a refugee from Vietnam. He was rescued by the Korean Embassy on the boat he left Vietnam on; after he was rescued, he came to America with nothing.

After arriving in America, he got his first job as a dishwasher 43 years ago and has never stopped working a day since. After taking a year to work and gain stability, he started attending college in Missouri. As a college student, he said he “didn’t know anything.” Then he began studying music because he could play the guitar.

Later on, in 1980, electronics were on the rise. He became an engineer at Tandem Computing. They let him continue attending college, where he studied law. He said he studied law because they needed more Vietnamese-American lawyers.

Mr. Nguyen said it was extremely challenging to go from music to law, but he was ready for it. He said he had already risked everything by leaving Vietnam. At first he started with one class, which he said was difficult but rewarding. He said at the time he thought, “If I don’t become [an] attorney, this will still be good for me.”

From 1992 until recently he was an attorney. In 2014 a seat was open on the San Jose City Council. Originally, he did not want to become a politician. “I didn’t like it,” he said. “I heard about how politicians operate.”

He discussed how he won the election for City Council against his three other experienced opponents. First he had to identify real issues in the community. He said a way to do that was to volunteer so “they don’t feel threatened by you, by your weaknesses or even your strengths.”

Later on in the press conference he was asked about the issue of the gun control legislation. He said that it is “absolutely incomprehensible” and that the “NRA, National Rifle Association, has a chokehold on Washington, DC.” He expressed that teachers are there so students can learn – that they are teachers, “not soldiers.”

He also spoke about the issue of sanctuary laws and immigration. He said the police force will not be questioning who you are as a person or as an immigrant. His personal belief is that they should not act as an immigration law enforcement. Instead after interacting with the police force he thinks they should be making people feel safe, not making the public think of the police as a deportation threat. He told them, “Don’t use our police force.”

He said only America has an immigration problem, because coming to America is a dream. He said in his opinion “America is still magic” – that even with the recent immigration problems and debates, “You are the luckiest people in the whole wide world.”

Staff Editor Charlie Stattion contributed to this report.


San Jose Councilman Tâm Nguyen’s base priority is community

By Amanda Flores, Kaila Hill, Deandra Han and Khanh Nguyen

Staff Writers

San Jose Councilman Tâm Nguyen’s base priority is community. Mr. Nguyen, a councilman from District 7 who is currently running for re-election on the November ballot, visited Summit Public School: Rainier on Sept. 12.

He recalled one of two words he kept in mind before running for District 7: safety. “Safety in your home, safety in your school, safety when you’re in the park, safety when you work, and safety on the street – transportation, and personal safety” are all important priorities, he explained.

Mr. Nguyen emphasized multiple times that communities are the base of his support. He mentioned that starting with the community and gaining their support  will create a strong base for one’s election campaign.

Health is another subject he believes should be prioritized within our community. “I mean cleanliness; I mean clean neighborhoods, clean parks, clean roads and a healthy environment.”

To gain and maintain the support of the community, he continues to give back by visiting multiple neighborhoods to help with cleanup. He even went as far as to leave his phone number on the whiteboard, letting students know they can send him a text and he will show up at our neighborhoods and help pick up trash.

For the council member, small steps like cleaning up trash in parks and neighborhoods and keeping those in the community safe build toward his overall more strenuous goal. Mr. Nguyen explained that as an attorney his slogan had always been “advocating for the disadvantaged families.” That is exactly what he continues to work toward by participating in community events and spending a generous amount of time working with the community.


Councilman Nguyen is on a journey to positively impact his community

By Gaby Garcia, Sabrina Guzman, Cathy Ly, Jennifer Rico, and Justin San Giovanni

Staff Writers

San Jose Councilman Tâm Nguyen has been on a journey to become an important and impactful member of the community. Through his many years of volunteering and helping other people, Mr. Nguyen has developed a strong connection with the community and its people, which has helped him in reaching the position of a council member.

From his early rough childhood in Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen came to the United States 43 years ago due to the dangerous warfare in his home country. He has worked his way up from being a dishwasher in Michigan, to getting a B.A, then later receiving an M.B.A  and becoming an attorney, to now being one of San Jose’s councilmen and representing District 7.

At a press conference that took place on Sept. 12, Mr. Nguyen explained to reporters at Summit Public School: Rainier the importance of wanting “to do good for the people in the community” and “advocating for [the] disadvantaged.” Mr. Nguyen’s relationship with the community has only become stronger since his election in 2014; he said “we are [the] best diverse community.”

However, Mr. Nguyen did not plan to be a councilman in the first place; he said he had “heard bad things about politicians,” but the people of the community had said otherwise and so he said, “I’ll take on the challenge,” which led him to be elected as a San Jose councilman.

Mr. Nguyen said, ”If you don’t have the community’s support, forget it,” adding onto why community is so important to him. He stated previously that community means a lot to him because community is what has gotten him so far.

When he came to the United States, he had no money, no clothes, no recognition, no nothing. Slowly he started working his way up the ladder and bettering his situation. Mr. Nguyen, coming from a tough situation while growing up, is able to empathize with the disadvantaged and the minorities within our community. He said that there’s “always a struggle between the rich and the poor” and that “minorities are in need of legal services.”

Mr. Nguyen, if re-elected as councilman, said he plans to do better: ”two words, safety and health.” He went on to say that he plans to better the safety of our community by making sure that our neighborhoods, schools, and homes are secure. He also plans on bettering the health of our community by making sure that our surroundings and environment are clean.

He is a dedicated man who plans on making change throughout San Jose – so devoted that he has even offered for people to call him if there is trash so he can go and help clean it up. By offering his services, he not only contributes to this community but he also gains the community’s support and trust in order for him to keep his current position as councilman and continue to make positive changes.

Mr. Nguyen has learned that when being a councilman you “don’t do something at the expense of others” and you “don’t take things too personal.”

All in all, Mr. Nguyen’s journey from escaping his country to now being one of San Jose’s city councilmen has been an eventful and transformative experience for him and the people of San Jose. He has devoted a lot of his time and work to bettering San Jose by being an ally to our community in District 7.


San Jose City Council Member Tâm Nguyen visits Summit Rainier

By Juan Ambrosio, Osvaldo Ayala, Analisa Sofia Perez and Jhancarlos Rodriguez

Staff Writers

San Jose City Council Member Tâm Nguyen tries to approach change and be open to new challenges.

“I take on the challenge.” Mr. Nguyen said that he is willing to grow through new experiences and that he is determined to make San Jose safe and healthy.

Mr. Nguyen wants the best for San Jose. He does this by helping the community and volunteering his own time to make the San Jose community a better place for everyone.

On Sept. 12, Mr. Nguyen came to get interviewed by Summit Rainier’s Multimedia Political Journalism class. He spoke about how he was poor in college and how he had to leave Vietnam because his country fell into communism.

Mr. Nguyen started out in the United States as a “broke college student” and came here with “nothing to my name.”

With nothing, he made it into something. He told himself he could and he would. With the baby steps he took, he accomplished his dream and he keeps on dreaming today.

Mr. Nguyen made it a point to prove how much his community is important to him and how with hard work and perseverance he was able to achieve the position he is in today. He believes in hard work and never takes a day off: “I always work hard every single day.”

As a council member, Mr. Nguyen feels very firmly about productivity and bettering his town. Because of his passion, he makes himself available to clean up neighborhoods and his community every Saturday morning with the help of his volunteers whenever he can.

Mr. Nguyen makes sure that the people of his district know he’s available to help. Here’s a recent cleanup he organized in a San Jose community:

Picking up trash in his neighborhood is only one of the challenges that he’s faces as he tries to improve life and safety for the people of his district. He has overcome many challenges, but he likes to do “one thing at a time.” He keeps things slow and steady so he can do more things that will benefit the community.

Mr. Nguyen isn’t afraid to take on new things, and he does it all with the help of his community. “I’m so lucky to be here. I’m grateful.” 

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