Kansen Chu’s Biography
An Immigrant, Engineer, and Small Business Owner
Kansen Chu emigrated to the United States from Taiwan in 1976. After he completed his graduate degree in Electrical Engineering in 1978, he moved to San Jose and worked at IBM Corp. as a micro-diagnostic programmer. In 1989, he and his wife started the Ocean Harbor Chinese restaurant in San Jose. They operated the small business until 2005.
A School Board Member
Kansen began his public service career in the early 1990s, as a member of the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) Board and later the Santa Clara County Mental Health Board.
Later, Kansen was elected to the Berryessa School Board in 2001. As a school board member, Kansen advocated for equitable education for all students and improved parent participation in schools.
A San José City Councilmember
Kansen served as a San Jose City Councilman from 2007 to 2014. During Kansen’s time on the City Council, his top priorities were public health, transportation, and the environment. He spearheaded the installation of automatic heart defibrillators across San Jose, brought BART to San Jose, passed initiatives to require citywide green building standards, and championed a ban on single-use plastic bags. Kansen also established the Berryessa Business Association, worked with community members to create the North San Jose Neighborhood Plan, helped start the Berryessa Farmers Market, renovated the Educational Park Library, and moved the long-awaited Commodore Park project forward.
He served on the San Jose City Public Safety Committee, Park and Recreation Committee, VTA Board, Santa Clara County Water Commission, Waste Reduction and Recycling Commission, and represented San José on the League of California Cities and the Association of Bay Area Governments.
A California State Assemblyman
Kansen represented the 25th District in the State Assembly from 2014 to 2020. Since being elected to the State Assembly, Kansen has advocated for mental health, public safety, education, environmental protection and justice, and good governance in the legislature. As your representative in the State Assembly, he:
- Secured more than $60 million in funding
- With this funding, Kansen fought to invest in mental health, auto break-in and property theft prevention, senior services, arts education, public transportation, and emergency preparedness
- Improved California’s recycling efforts
- Expanded access to clean drinking water
- Protected domestic abuse survivors
- Increased school bus safety
- Moved California away from the outdated practice of switching the clock twice a year
- Worked to hold utility companies accountable for power shut-offs
- Expanded access to mental health services and fought the mental health stigma
- He sponsored and presented AB 8, an act that expanded student access to mental health services in the state of California by imposing requirements to have mental health professionals available for students.
- He also sponsored and wrote AB 1838, an act that allowed students to have excused absences for behavioral health reasons.
As an assemblyman, Kansen served on nine committees; he has been the Chair of the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media Committee and the Chair of the Human Services Committee. The other committees he’s served on include the Assembly Transportation Committee; Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee; Insurance Committee; Revenue and Taxation Committee; Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy Committee; and the Labor and Employment Committee. In addition to the Assembly Standing Committees mentioned above, Kansen created and chaired the Select Committee on Hate Crimes for 4 years.
A Family Man and Community Member
In 2019, Kansen decided to not seek re-election to the State Assembly to be closer to his mother.
Despite leaving the State Assembly, Kansen has remained committed to investing in education. In 2021, Kansen was appointed to the Berryessa Union School District Board of Trustees. He was also appointed by the Assembly Speaker Rendon to serve on the State Private Post Graduate Education Commission. He is a member of the San Jose East/Evergreen Rotary Club and the First VP of the Milpitas Executive Lions Club.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kansen dedicated his time to working with the community. He raised more than 130,000 pieces of personal protective equipment for the County Hospital, Regional Hospital, Community Health Clinics, farm workers, Santa Clara County Sheriff Department, Milpitas public safety staff, and general public.
Kansen and his wife Daisy have been married for 44 years. They have two adult children named Ann and Walt, a son-in-law named Steve, and two grandchildren named Kimberly and Connor.