SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — In Santa Clara County, the race for the next District Attorney has officially begun. 

Santa Clara County Deputy Public Defender and criminal justice reform advocate, Sajid Khan will challenge current DA Jeff Rosen, who is seeking a fourth consecutive term.

“I went to law school wanting to do civil rights work and then discovered that the real significance of civil rights and human rights work is in being a public defender, being in our courthouse fighting for the constitutional rights of the accused,” said Khan.

“And many people saw in me the person to challenge our current district attorney’s office and lead our DA’s office in this new direction of safety, justice, and dignity for all people.” 

Khan will be Rosen’s first challenger since Rosen was elected over his boss, one-term incumbent Dolores Carr in 2010. 

Since then Rosen has run unopposed, both in 2014 and in 2018. 

Khan tells KRON4 News time has come for Santa Clara County to have a true, real progressive DA. 

“I’m running to fight systemic racism, to end mass incarceration, and to build a justice system that ensures the dignity and safety of all our fellow human beings in this county, in the place that I grew up and the place that I call home,” said Khan. 

Khan, a 13-year veteran public defender, is the latest in a wave of progressive prosecutors around the country amid calls for police and criminal justice reform. 

Last Sunday afternoon, Khan officially announced his campaign at a just reform rally calling for an end to mass incarceration, the movement for racial justice and to bring progressive leadership at the county’s DA’s office. 

“I’m rooted here in this community, I know this community, I’m invested here, and I want to ensure dignity and safety for all the people and all 15 cities of this 2 million-person county,” said Khan.

“Specifically I want to stop the practice of prosecuting kids as adults,” Khan added.

“I am also committed to ending the practice of three strikes enhancements that results in disproportionate and excessive sentences that don’t make our community safer and that result in mass incarceration and result in racial disparities.”

Khan says, if elected, he is also committed to holding police officers accountable, citing the national criticism San Jose police officers received over the handling in responding to demonstrators.

“Right now we have a DA’s office that has failed to hold police officers accountable and then made us ultimately less safe, especially communities of color,” said Khan.

“We have a DA who has been unwilling to prosecute any of the San Jose police officers who have killed 18 human beings in our city in the last five years, 15 of which were people of color,” Khan added.

“And that doesn’t even include police officers who use excessive force that doesn’t result in the death of somebody.”

Khan was born in San Jose to Muslim immigrant parents from Madras, India. His mother worked as a laboratory scientist at O’Connor Hospital and his late father was a physicist in the semiconductor industry.