Menlo Park's Josh Becker joins crowd running for Assembly


Democrat Josh Becker is the seventh person and second Menlo Park resident to announce his candidacy for the District 24 seat in the California Assembly, currently held by Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, who will be termed out this year.

Menlo Park City Councilman Peter Ohtaki, a Republian, is also in the race.

The five other candidates, all Democrats, are: Mike Kasperzak, a 14-year Mountain View councilman; Marc Berman, a development director at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation and a Palo Alto councilman; Vicki Veenker, an intellectual property attorney and the president of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley; Barry Chang, a Cupertino councilman; and Seelam Reddy, a retired engineer.

Mr. Becker ran for the same office in 2010, but lost to Mr. Gordon.

Now is a "critical time for our state, and our country, frankly," Mr. Becker said in an interview. "D.C. is gridlocked. California has to continue to be the leader."

Mr. Becker said that if he were elected, he would give priority to policies that address climate change, more effectively train the future workforce, and reform the prison system.

He said he would also make efforts to bring greater technology awareness to Sacramento. One idea he spoke of is launching a digital service corps for young tech workers to serve in Sacramento for a year to help improve governmental digital efficiency.

He said he has experience in the nonprofit, government and for-profit sectors, and has worked in the tech and startup fields. He is an investor and social entrepreneur, he said, and has a law degree and an MBA from Stanford.

His resume covers a wide range of policy issues. In the nonprofit sector, he started the Full Circle Fund 15 years ago; the fund connects nonprofits to funding and expertise from Silicon Valley companies. For his work with the fund, Mr. Becker received this year a regional Jefferson Award for public service.

Mr. Becker is a member of the California Workforce Development Board, appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, and has served on the board of the University of California at Merced.

An advocate for clean energy and developing "green" jobs, he founded Cleantech for Obama and is co-chairing Cleantech for Hillary in California.

He said people had been encouraging him to run for office, but he waited until the first week of February to declare his candidacy because he had been busy as CEO of Lex Machina, which was acquired in December by LexisNexis. The Menlo Park-based business, located above Cafe Del Sol on Doyle Street, is like "moneyball for law" and uses technology to provide information about behaviors of judges, parties to lawsuits, and attorneys by mining large quantities of text, he said.

The business started as a public interest project at Stanford Law School, but now provides the data free to judges and for a cost to law firms and companies.

Since announcing his candidacy on Feb. 4, Mr. Becker said he has been endorsed by Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Palo Alto Mayor Patrick Burt, Palo Alto City Councilman Tom DuBois, Menlo Park City Councilman Ray Mueller, Menlo Park Environmental Quality Commissioner Kristin Duriseti, former Sunnyvale mayor Julia Miller, District 17 Assembly member David Chiu, District 19 Assembly member Phil Ting, and San Mateo County education board vice president Joe Ross.

Related story: Venture capitalist hopes to succeed Rich Gordon in Sacramento.

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Like this comment
Posted by Bob Pierce
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Feb 17, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Josh Becker would be a great addition to the Assembly.

Like this comment
Posted by So it's climate change!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 17, 2016 at 6:41 pm

I received a phone survey the other day asking my opinion of different people who may run for state assembly. After some preliminary questions, the survey focused on Josh Becker, including his background, and different issues that his campaign might focus on, asking me which would be most compelling. I guess climate change won.

I don't begrudge him doing research, but I don't feel too optimistic about his true legislative priorities, since this was just one of about six that the researcher asked about.

Wish I had taken notes. It would have been interesting to see which ones did not make the cut.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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