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June 7, 2016 — California Primary Election
Local

City of San JoseCandidate for City Council, District 6

Photo of Peter Allen

Peter Allen

Nonprofit Executive
2,241 votes (9.59%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Making San José more affordable for working families
  • Encouraging sensible and sustainable growth consistent with long-term planning
  • Protecting our streets and neighborhoods

Experience

Experience

Profession:Nonprofit Executive/Small Business Owner
Owner/Principal, Peter Allen Media (2012–current)
Commissioner, City of San José Arts Commission — Appointed position (2012–current)
Managing Director, Teatro Visión de San José (2013–2016)
Associate, Catapult Strategies, Inc. (2009–2012)

Education

University of Southern California Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), Cinema-Television (2000)

Community Activities

Advisory Board/Co-Founder, New Leaders Council - Silicon Valley (2010–current)
Member/Board Member, Rotary Club of Campbell/Willow Glen/San José West (2012–current)
Member/Board Member, Democratic 21st Century Club (2009–current)
Member/Former Treasurer, Willow Glen Neighborhood Association (2009–current)
Member/Strategic Marketing Committee, Willow Glen Business Association (2012–current)

Biography

Peter Allen is a nonprofit executive, small business owner, and arts commissioner running for city council to bring creative leadership to local government. He is a third-generation San José native whose family has deep roots in our community.

Peter's great grandfather co-founded Contadina Canneries. His grandfather, Pete, owned Allen's Furniture on 2nd Street in Downtown San José for more than 50 years. His uncle, Jack, and cousin, Carolyn, operated Paolo's Restaurant from 1958 until it closed in the summer of 2015. His mother, Janice, taught 2nd grade at Willow Glen Elementary for nearly 20 years, and his father, Jack, is a CPA and past board member of the San José Library Foundation.

For the past three years, Peter has worked as Managing Director of Teatro Visión, a Latino/Chicano theater company celebrating its 31st year nurturing arts and opportunity in underserved San José communities. He also owns a small consulting practice specializing in online content management, press relations, and local political campaigns.

Peter has had a passion for public service from a very young age. He currently serves as Chair of the City of San José Arts Commission, where he helps to oversee programs that provide support to San José’s arts and cultural community. He has previously served as Communications Chair of the New Leaders Council Silicon Valley chapter, Membership Chair for the Rotary Club of Campbell/San José West/Willow Glen, and Treasurer of the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association.

Peter graduated from Willow Glen Elementary, Hoover Middle School, and Bellarmine College Prep – all District 6 schools – and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Filmic Writing from the University of Southern California. He can occasionally be seen performing with a San José-based rock band as a bassist and vocalist.

Peter’s fiancée, Angelica Ramos, is a policy associate at a local nonprofit agency that provides critical services to homeless and at-risk youth in San José and Santa Clara County. Together, they are proud parents to two precocious dogs and two sleepy cats.

Who supports this candidate?

Organizations (5)

  • East Side Teachers Association
  • Silicon Valley Latino Democratic Forum
  • Silicon Valley Young Democrats
  • League of Conservation Voters of Santa Clara County
  • Santa Clara County Democratic Party

Elected Officials (11)

  • Tom McEnery, Former Mayor of San José
  • Rich Gordon, California State Assembly
  • Tam Nguyen, San José City Council
  • Manh Nguyen, San José City Council
  • Jim Griffith, Councilmember & Former Mayor of Sunnyvale
  • Jeff Cristina, Councilmember & Former Mayor of Campbell
  • Jason Baker, Mayor of Campbell
  • Kalen Gallagher, Trustee, Campbell Union High School District
  • Paymon Zarghami, Trustee, San José Unified School District
  • Sandy Engel, Trustee, San José Unified School District
  • Teresa Castellanos, President, San José Unified School District Board of Trustees

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters (4)

What experience related to city government would you bring to the City Council?
Answer from Peter Allen:

I have worked in and around city government for the better part of the past decade as a community organizer, consultant, and commissioner. This experience has provided me with an intimate knowledge of how our city government functions – and how it fails to function from time to time. It has helped me to build strong relationships with civic leaders at all levels throughout our region, including all of the current councilmembers as well as our mayor. And it has also given me the opportunity to develop productive relationships with key city staff, which would be critical in designing and implementing critical policy changes to improve the quality of life for our residents. Most importantly, I've learned that the best decisions for a community are made as a community. No councilmember exists on an island. True leadership requires a spirit of collaboration, humility, and vision.

San Jose budget difficulties have resulted in unprecedented cuts to staff and services. How will you deal with coming shortfalls? Restoring some of the City services? And, if you think the City needs additional resources, what are your ideas for increasing revenues?
Answer from Peter Allen:

Rather than think of city services in silos, I prefer to take a more holistic approach to budgeting. Based on my experience managing a nonprofit and working on local public policy, I know that changes to one area naturally affect others. In the event that cuts were needed to balance the city budget, I would seek to spread the burden of those cuts throughout the organization to avoid severe and sudden reductions to vital services. But regardless of circumstances, I would always advocate for the preservation of public safety and other essential services such as roads and transportation infrastructure, public utilities, libraries, and parks.

After more than a decade of cuts, the City is currently operating beyond the bandwidth it should be expected to provide. Staff and resources are stretched to their limits, and services are still nowhere near the levels our residents expect and deserve. Until long-term economic development fundamentally changes the City’s revenue picture, we must come together as a community to pay our fair share toward making San José a safe, vibrant, healthy, and equitable community. That is why I am in favor of the ¼-cent sales tax measure recently placed on the June 7th ballot with the support of 9 out of 11 councilmembers, in addition to the San José Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce and the South Bay Labor Council.

Ensuring San José’s long-term fiscal sustainability will require foresight, vision, and creative leadership. An imbalance of jobs to employed residents leaves the City short of the revenue needed to provide world class services to all of its million residents. Improving the tax base means growing our jobs base. In order to do that, we need to embrace one of San José’s greatest strengths: our culture of innovation. The global tech giants that are driving our economy today were once daydreams that came alive through all-night strategy sessions. We must continue to foster that innovation in our small businesses and start-up economy. The city should also be thoughtful in recognizing the urgent need for affordable housing while preserving land slated for commercial development. This delicate balance can be achieved through well-planned, mixed-use projects that provide housing as well as job opportunities.

While a great deal of progress has been made toward restoring public safety in San José, we have a great deal of work left to do. San José still has more than 200 vacant officer positions to fill before it can meet its baseline staffing numbers in this year’s budget. Low recruitment rates, lateral transfers to other agencies, and scheduled retirements mean we’re not likely to see that gap filled anytime soon. The City should seize this opportunity to strengthen our neighborhoods by investing in community engagement and encouraging residents to work together with police to keep our streets safe. This includes expanding the existing community service officer program, continuing to leverage Silicon Valley technology to improve efficiency, and addressing the root causes of crime by enhancing and expanding youth and community programs.

 

What concerns are of particular importance to the city and how would you address them?
Answer from Peter Allen:

Making San José more affordable for working families — With the cost of living raging out of control and average wages stuck in limbo, San José has become a city with two faces, where many of our hardworking neighbors struggle to make ends meet in the shadows of sparkling new high rises and gleaming freeway overpasses. Meanwhile, a recent study showed that Santa Clara County spends more than half a billion dollars a year providing services to the homeless, the overwhelming majority of whom reside in our city. It is both our moral and a fiscal imperative to come together as a community to address the affordability of San José. This can be done through a multi-faceted approach that includes controlling the rapidly increasing cost of housing and helping local businesses create jobs that pay a living wage.

Encouraging sensible and sustainable growth consistent with long-term planning — The city should be thoughtful in recognizing the urgent need for more affordable housing while preserving land slated for commercial development. This delicate balance can be achieved through well-planned, mixed-use projects that provide housing as well as job opportunities. Additionally, with an eye toward efficiency and effectiveness, we need to ensure that our transit infrastructure serves our entire community with affordable transit options for those with and without cars. By embracing a multi-modal transportation system, we can reduce traffic on our roads, improve the productivity of our workforce, and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Finally, we need to return to the roots of Silicon Valley by incubating business growth in our own backyard, creating a culture of commitment to San José that leads to long-term investment in our city and local workforce.

Protecting our streets and neighborhoods — We’ve all seen how the economic downturn and in-fighting at City Hall have impacted the safety and security of San José. While a great deal of progress has been made, we have a great deal of work left to do to restore baseline resources and staffing numbers. The settlement of Measure B and a renewed sense of collaboration between the city and our employees have improved morale, but it will take time for San José to become a competitive employer again. As we work toward restoring our police and fire ranks, we should continue to leverage Silicon Valley technology to improve efficiency and address root causes by investing in youth and community programs like the Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force and fire prevention services.

How would you balance the needs of the City as a whole while also addressing needs of your district as well as those of special groups?
Answer from Peter Allen:

As Managing Director at Teatro Visión, San José’s Chicano/Latino theater company, and a leader in San José’s burgeoning creative community, I have extensive experience working to improve cultural literacy across racial, ethnic, gender identity, and socio-economic backgrounds. I’m excited by the opportunity to bring this philosophy to city hall, which can and should do more to proactively engage with our entire community so that our leadership and policies are reflective of our unique diversity.

As a Councilmember, I would promote a culture of inclusion, transparency, and diversity. While my first priority would be the residents of District 6, the overwhelming majority of my decisions as their elected representative would affect the entire city. It would therefore be a responsibility of my office to ensure that our constituents were well and adequately informed about the real impacts of city policies, not only on our neighborhoods, but also the region around us. I would look to involve a broad spectrum of leaders throughout the district when undertaking or considering any major policy initiative, and I would make sure that all of my residents receive timely and reliable notification of any major change in policy, public works, or other area of public interest — in a variety of languages and formats.

My office would maintain an open-door policy, with the councilmember and/or staff regularly available for questions, comments, or concerns – both at city hall and in the district. Collaboration among my colleagues at City Hall and Sacramento will be key, and I would leverage my existing relationships with local state legislators to encourage joint town halls with neighboring districts to build common ground among diverse neighborhoods in San Jose. I would look to improve on the City’s existing outreach policy by embracing social media and other web-based forms of communication to engage with the public on key issues. I would also call for regular audits of departmental outreach databases to ensure that messages are reaching a broad and diverse audience that is reflective of our entire city — in addition to anyone who expresses an interest. In my experience, government works best when it works for everyone. By coming together around the vision we all share for a healthy, equitable, and vibrant San José, we can find lasting solutions to the challenges we face.

Questions from League of Women Voters (1)

How much money do you expect to raise/spend on your race, and how will you assure voters that financial contributions will not affect your decisions/positions should you be elected?
Answer from Peter Allen:

I expect to raise and spend about $80,000 over the course of the primary election. As the only candidate born and raised in District 6, I have been the beneficiary of a great outpouring of community support, both in terms of small-dollar donations as well as volunteers for voter contact. I am proud to have the most individual donations of any candidate in the race – over 430 as of the latest public reports – with an average donation of $118, far and away the lowest in the District 6 field. Meanwhile, some of my opponents are receiving average donations of more than $400 and loaning/giving themselves as much as $30,000.

I knew coming into this race that I would not be able to match or outraise candidates with ties to the deep pockets of Silicon Valley. But I also knew that I could remain competitive if I worked hard and brought a legion of supporters to the table. I’m happy to report that I’ve done just that. By taking this approach, I can assure voters and all District 6 residents that they will be my top priority as a councilmember.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

As a Councilmember, I would promote a culture of inclusion, transparency, and diversity. While my first priority would be the residents of District 6, the overwhelming majority of my decisions as their elected representative would affect the entire city. It would therefore be a responsibility of my office to ensure that our constituents were well and adequately informed about the real impacts of city policies, not only on our neighborhoods, but also the region around us. I would look to involve a broad spectrum of leaders throughout the district when undertaking or considering any major policy initiative, and I would make sure that all of my residents receive timely and reliable notification of any major change in policy, public works, or other area of public interest — in a variety of languages and formats.

My office would maintain an open-door policy, with the councilmember and/or staff regularly available for questions, comments, or concerns – both at city hall and in the district. Collaboration among my colleagues at City Hall and Sacramento will be key, and I would leverage my existing relationships with local state legislators to encourage joint town halls with neighboring districts to build common ground among diverse neighborhoods in San José.

I would look to improve on the City’s existing outreach policy by embracing social media and other web-based forms of communication to engage with the public on key issues. I would also call for regular audits of departmental outreach databases to ensure that messages are reaching a broad and diverse audience that is reflective of our entire city — in addition to anyone who expresses an interest. In my experience, government works best when it works for everyone. By coming together around the vision we all share for a healthy, equitable, and vibrant San José, we can find lasting solutions to the challenges we face.

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