SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — After a hard fought race, East San Jose native Dave Cortese will soon serve as senator representing California’s 15th District. 

As of Thursday, Cortese collected a substantial 20,000- plus-vote lead over Ann Ravel, winning 53.9% of the vote

“We feel great, obviously almost 70% of the votes have been counted and we have an 8% lead … that’s what we were after, that’s what we were looking for of course in terms of campaign strategy, you want to win and you want to win by enough of a margin so you can be having this kind of conversation now,” said Cortese. 

“We have so much to deal with, everybody is feeling it right now, we got potential changes at the national scene, the state is obviously in a state of flux with budget, also because of the pandemic, we just went through a massive fire season,” Cortese added. 

“There’s just so much to work on, so yeah things are moving fast but I am eager to dive in there and start working on things.”

Cortese is set to replace Jim Beall who is retiring after 40 years of working in politics.

Cortese will now represent residents living in Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, San Jose and Saratoga at the state level.

Some of the major issues Cortese has his eyes on addressing as soon as he takes over his new role include housing, mental health, climate change, and police reform issues. 

“I think you will see from me right out of the gate, me asserting a major leadership on housing, on homelessness, on climate change, even though we are in the middle of a pandemic we can’t forget about that issue,” said Cortese. 

“I also feel like there’s a significant mental health crisis going on, not only across the state, but across the country … it’s become a problem for our institutions, it’s become a problem for our jails and our prisons, they’re overcrowded with people who shouldn’t be in there, they should be in mental health treatment,” Cortese added. 

“Our police officers and our correctional officers are struggling with that because that’s not their vocation … and then we have a whole issue of how do we determine which police officers can handle their job and which ones can’t.”  

A career in politics almost seemed inevitable for Cortese with a deep connection in local politics, with his father serving as a Santa Clara County supervisor and a state assemblyman along with his maternal grandfather serving as a Santa Clara councilman. 

Having grown up in East San Jose, where the majority of the foreign-born population is from Mexico, Cortese tells KRON4 News that having worked alongside migrant children workers at an early age allowed him to see first-hand the struggles of those less fortunate around him. 

“When I was 10-years-old I was working out here in the orchards, side by side mostly with migrant farm workers children, a lot of us kids had to work, there were crops that you didn’t need a ladder for, you could work when you were 10-years-old because you can pick prunes on our hands and knees, you can pick walnuts on your hands and knees, this is in the days before automated machinery,” said Cortese. 

“When I was 10-years-old I and two of the older boys had just become citizens, got drafted and went to Vietnam, one of them died on the frontlines right away,” Cortese added.  

“I wrote a letter to my congressman at the time, 10-years-old out in the middle of an orchard, I’m writing this letter and he wrote me back … it had such a profound influence on me that I realized there are good people in government that are willing to write a letter to a 10-year-old.”

Cortese will now take his nearly 30 years of experience and lessons learned in Silicon Valley politics to Sacramento as he is set to be sworn in on Dec. 7.

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