Keeping residents of San Jose, Calif., safe from crime and proper maintenance of the city’s parks, libraries and infrastructure services are key campaign planks of former San Jose planning commissioner Bob Dhillon — running in a special election April 7 for the District 4 seat on the San Jose City Council.

Retired after a career as a realtor, small property developer and real estate manager and currently a volunteer in the community, the 72-year-old Indian American told India-West Feb. 24 that he hopes to make an anticipated runoff election June 23 in a crowded field of candidates. It is unlikely that any candidate will reach the 50 percent vote total required to avert a runoff.

Ten hopefuls are on the ballot, but several candidates have dropped out of the race. The seat was previously held by Kansen Chu, who was elected to the state Assembly in the 25th District in November. Former councilwoman Margie Matthews has represented the seat in the interim.

Dhillon rues the fact that police officers trained at the police academy in San Jose are often hired by other cities in the South Bay area that offer higher salaries and benefits.

Negotiations by the city of San Jose with police and fire department unions on a $50 million pension and benefits burden is ongoing.

If the issue is not resolved before a new council member is seated, Dhillon, if elected, vows to seek to keep salaries and benefits of fire and police officers in San Jose competitive with nearby cities.

He also told India-West that to help reduce San Jose’s deficit he favors “zero-base’ budgeting for the city, with departments needing to justify budget requests every year, rather than carrying over allocations without review. He also wants more privatization of city services.

Also on his campaign platform are repairing street potholes, extending BART to downtown San Jose, construction of an onramp to Highway 101, increased library hours, improved park maintenance and making sure park revenues are channeled to District 4.

Regarding a new city dump on the border of north San Jose and Milpitas that has received complaints about odors as far away as Fremont, owners should get permit approval from nearby cities affected by the problem, unless the issue has been mitigated, he said.

Dhillon served for seven years on the city planning commission and for two years as president. He said that while he is 72, he is energetic and “feels like I’m 50.”

In his latest campaign report due in several days he expects to report just “a little less than $90,000” raised for the campaign.

Others running include media executive Manh Nguyen, civil rights attorney Lan Diep and Tim Orozco, a former staff member for state Senator Bob Wieckowski.

The district has 40,345 registered voters, of which 27,868 usually vote by mail.

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