New Campbell mayor credits much of his success to SJSU

by Feb 4, 2010 12:00 am

At age 26, SJSU master's student Evan Low, who is openly gay, became the mayor of Campbell, California in December 2009.

"To have that drive at such a young age is inspiring," said Kanotha Camau-Devers, a sophomore and civil engineering major said. "It shows that a lot of change is happening, which is very good."

Low has earned honors already, such as "Evan Low Day" in San Francisco, named by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, and the "Asian American Hero" award by Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss, according to Evan Low's campaign Web site.

"It is inspiring, because so many people are discriminated against," said junior accounting major Elaine Tan. "It's amazing how far he has gotten."

Evan Low said he received hate mail when he took the seat of mayor.

"People said we don't want the homosexual agenda," he said. "We want American interest, not Chinese interest."

Low said he is a fourth generation Californian, and while there is still discrimination, he thinks the people are more concerned with his policy and keeping the quality of life they have.

"It's a step in the right direction," said Steven Osaki, a senior management information systems major.

The mayor of Campbell attributes his success to a single point.

"Good education," Low said. "My education through San Jose State."

Low said he attended SJSU and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 2003 and is currently a Master's student in public administration.

He said his political fire sparked during a class called Local Politics.

"I had a great teacher," Low said. "Professor Terry Christensen."

Christensen said, at the end of each semester, students in his local politics class participate in a role-play of a city council meeting called the Circleville simulation.

Low said he played the mayor in the simulation.

"Usually the mayor doesn't talk back to the citizens," Low said was the feedback he received from Christensen.

Christensen said Low engaged the students in his class.

Low said another learning experience he took from SJSU was through an internship, run by Christensen.

"He took us to the capital, and we got to meet with the governor's staff and other elected officials," Low said.

Christensen said Low encompasses the key to a successful politician.

"Persistence breeds success," Christensen said.

Low's persistence was made apparent when he lost the Campbell election in 2004, and ran again in the 2006 election, according to the Dec. 2 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Low said he was rejected from every major college he applied.

"He knows what he wants," said Art Low, Evan Low's father and role model. "Parents have to tell their kids to study. We didn't, Evan just did things on his own."

Benson Chang, Low's friend and classmate since childhood, said that Low was very involved with the community, and encouraged others to get involved.

"Part of his leadership is that he is technologically savvy," Vice Mayor Jason Baker said.

Baker said Low chose to have streaming video for meetings for people to view.

Low said that as part of the Facebook generation, knowing technology is critical.

"I think people want to feel like they can relate to someone," Low said.

Christensen said he will be advising Low on an upcoming project thesis for Masters in Public Administration, or the MPA.

"We need more people like him in politics," said fellow MPA member Susan Marsland.

Marsland said there are a lot of elected officials who do not have the knowledge that can be obtained from having a MPA degree.

Low said he urges students to be proactive in things they want to enhance.

"Some think, 'well politics doesn't affect me,'" Low said. "Look at the budget cuts.

Who makes those decisions? If you take public transportation, who determines whether or not you get that Eco Pass."

State Assembly member Paul Fong, whom Low served as an aid, said he thinks Low has a bright future.

"He's going be up in the state assembly, he's got all the qualifications to take a part in the state legislature," he said.

Christensen said he believes Low will make a great difference in the community.

"It's already a good start because of the qualities he has. I'd like to see him as president of our country one day," said Sunny Nguyen, a sophomore and business management major.

Marsland said Low gives her hope for the younger generation.

"He is a good mayor to lead us through these tough economic times," said Vice Mayor Jason Baker.

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