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CA17: GOP candidate Vanlandingham speaks out

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.

Joel VanlandinghamFremont 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.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Marga

    The cost of the candidate statement alone will be in the five-figures. If he wants to put himself up as an alternative, he needs to at least put out a statement. So it’s either spend his money or fundraise.

  • charlie

    He was paid to run to split the vote. Really this guy has no experience and no business being in politics. WTF