Posted by on May 07, 2012 in Blog

Johnny Khamis has big plans for the city of San Jose, and he’s hoping the community agrees and elects him to serve on San Jose City Council this year.

Khamis has lived in San Jose for 36 years, and in his district for 17 years. He’s been involved in numerous aspects of San Jose life, including serving as the Chairman of Civic Engagement, helping with small business development, and aiding in the creation of the Arab American Cultural Center. He’s seen a lot of things going on with the city that concerns him, like cuts in services such as public libraries, firefighters, police, and more.

With 17 years of experience as a financial advisor, Khamis thinks there are better ways of reducing costs without laying off employees. He wants to help the city get itself out of the crisis and solve some of its major problems. “I want to work on efficiency, especially better negotiations with health companies,” he says. “The workers’ comp system needs to be overhauled, frankly, and making the business environment more friendly would help San Jose attract new businesses and will help fund public services for the city. I want to make a better place for my family to live in, and a safe welcoming place to live in.”

Khamis is proud to be an Arab American going into politics, noting that there are more and more Arab Americans getting involved politically, and “it’s the only way our community can succeed in the USA.” Khamis says with a laugh, “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. I want Arab Americans to be at the table.” Khamis goes on to say that more Arab Americans need to step up and have a seat at the table, especially when there are so many political assaults from politicians and the media, it’s never been more important to show that we’re dedicated, involved citizens and show that our voice matters.

His top goals if elected? First, to streamline health insurance bargaining; having spent 11 years as a health insurance broker, he knows there are lots of potential savings in the health insurance arena. Second, he wants to improve the way San Jose conducts permitting and business licensing so that they can move people’s ideas to thriving businesses in less time. Providing incentive-based programs will help entrepreneurs succeed in San Jose. Khamis also has ideas for the city parks. He’d like to see a Kiwanis Club adopt a park for each club that meets in the area, plus the Lions Clubs and Rotary Club, and create a more tightly knit community.

When asked what Khamis needs from the community he said, “To the community: give me the legs to stand on to make a difference – I need volunteers. Of course donations are welcome, but time and help from the community are necessary to make sure I succeed.” With the primary coming up on June 5th, Khamis’s goal is to be the most viable candidate on the ticket.

Khamis remains connected to the local Arab American community. He’s been a big supporter of Palestinian Cultural Day in San Jose, and he’s attended lots of similar cultural events each year. He has helped in efforts to secure an Arab American cultural center in the city of San Jose, to be used for Arabic classes, Arabic arts, music instruction, and a lot of community work. Khamis emphasizes how proud he was to help the Arab American Cultural Center get on its feet, and to advocate for it. His wife volunteers at the Center to promote music activities.

In addition to his ties to cultural organizations, Khamis also does work with Almanden Cares, an organization that tries to inform young and old drivers about the importance of driving safely. In his work as a board member of Almenden Cares, he’s helped them to team up with MADD to bring crashed cars to high schools. Khamis is also the Chairman of Small Business Development and the past chair for the Santa Clara County Human Relations Committee. In 2007 he won their Human Rights Leader of the Year award. That was one of his proudest moments, he says, “because it highlighted all my efforts with the city and council regarding the criminal diversion program and other actions we’ve taken, the anti-Iraq resolutions, and it all culminated where I was actually awarded in front of 700 of my peers.”

Khamis has two boys, ages 7 and 10, both of whom attend the local elementary school. Family is clearly important to Khamis, who coaches his sons’ Lego Robotics Team and helped them get to regional championships. He’s also involved with their PTA and Boy Scouts. In addition to school activities, every Monday night his family has dinner with Khamis’s mother, and she makes Arabic food.

When asked what the hardest part of his campaign has been, Khamis says it’s been being away from his family. He’s already devoted over a year to attending meetings in the evening multiple times per week, and while it’s been excellent to hear what’s going on, he misses the time with his kids and wife. “Beyond a doubt, I am the most informed candidate in our district.” he says. The most rewarding aspect of his campaign has been “hearing and seeing people encourage me. People really do like me as a candidate, they really do believe in what I have to offer as a candidate and my ideas, and that’s been my reward.”

With regard to his campaign, Khamis notes that he lives in an area that has a large community of ethnic minorities. His campaign has been focusing on encouraging them to come out and vote, and getting serious about being part of the political system. Khamis says “If I get to the runoff, then I can definitely attribute it to the minority vote. I want everyone at the table.”

The California primary is on June 5, 2012. For more information on Johnny Khamis, please visit

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