San Jose Republican Joel Vanlandingham decided to enter the 17th Congressional District race because he “got a little frustrated with all the politics,” he said Thursday afternoon.
Fremont Democrat Ro Khanna’s challenge to incumbent Mike Honda, D-San Jose, has been making headlines for almost a year, and though Fremont Republican Vanila Singh entered the race at the start of 2014, none of them impress Vanlandingham.
The 47-year-old father of three said none of them seem willing or able to address “what’s going on in this country … the complete lack of accountability and perpetuation of the problems.”
He said Honda’s seven terms in Congress and Khanna’s stint in President Obama’s Commerce Department haven’t led them to any concrete achievements or plans on behalf of the district’s constituents. “It just doesn’t make any sense, the things that they say and do.”
Instead, he said, the district needs someone who’ll be accountable for what they actually accomplish – and that takes knowing what constituents want and need. He noted he’s half-Latino and was raised in a working-class family, and has worked as a tech-sector job recruiter for almost 20 years.
“I understand the people who actually live here, who are striving to build something better for their children,” he said.
Both Vanlandingham and Vinesh Singh Rathore, a product counsel at Google, filed candidacy papers shortly before last Friday’s deadline, perhaps radically altering the electoral calculus for June’s primary election.
Vanlandingham – who finished a distant second to incumbent Democrat Ron Gonzales in San Jose’s 2002 mayoral election – isn’t concerned that the other 17th District candidates have raised enough money to drown him out.
“This is not about money for me, I don’t need to raise $6 million so I can put TV commercials on – I think the people who live in this area are much more intelligent than that,” he said. “If you want donate some money, donate it to a charity – I don’t need it, I don’t want it.”