Kansen Chu Loses SEIU 521’s Endorsement to Otto Lee in the Santa Clara County Supes Race

After endorsing Assemblyman Kansen Chu in the last three elections, Service Employees International Union Local 521 won’t support his bid for Santa Clara County Supervisor and will instead endorse former Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee.

The union represents nearly 12,000 county employees, making it a key endorsement in the race for Dave Cortese’s soon-to-be-vacated seat.

Mullissa Willette, the chair for SEIU 521’s South Bay Committee on Political Education, told Fly that Lee has supported the union’s push for a billionaire tax. The money from the tax would be reinvested in working families and communities of color.

“Our union will continue to bring forward candidates and elected officials who elevate public discourse and advocate for major socioeconomic change,” Willette said.

Lee said he believes SEIU 521 didn’t support Chu because of recent remarks he made after abstaining from a vote to place a measure on the November ballot to repeal Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 and reinstate affirmative action.

Chu was quoted in a translated article from the World Journal saying that, as a schools trustee, he saw many Hispanic parents were uninterested in their children’s education.

Backlash ensued, but Chu said the translation wasn’t accurate and the reporter inserted their own opinion. “People do make mistakes,” Lee said. “Hiding behind these excuses is what I find to be really unfortunate.”

Chu told Fly that he was disappointed that the local SEIU union didn’t endorse him.

“I don’t know what Otto has promised them,” he quipped.

The news especially came as a shock since Chu says he’s been advocating for sick leave for in-home support service workers, who are represented by another SEIU branch.

“My work has always been based on a simple belief that the income inequality is the greatest disparity to equal assets,” he said.


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