fired up his run for the hotly contested Santa Clara County Fifth District Supervisor seat on Saturday with a luncheon held at in Cupertino.
Current supervisor terms out this year, leaving the spot open for fresh talent, or returning talent such as State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Cupertino) who held the office of county supe from 1997 to 2000. Simitian asked for Chang's endorsement, according to Chang, but the two will now square off in the race instead.
Among the handful of candidates are Kris Wang, who has only said she is "exploring" options, as well as Kathleen King, a former Saratoga City Counclwoman.
Dozens of supporters paid $15 for a hearty meal, and to hear the Cupertino city councilmember give a presentation on the issues he is most passionate about.
Chang, a Taiwanese immigrant, worked in construction before emigrating to the U.S. and earning a master's degree from the University of Cincinnati in civil engineering. His beginnings, he said, were humble.
"My father was just a peasant. We were a poor, working family, but my father believed in education, and that's how I got spanked quite a lot," he joked.
As candidate for county supervisor, Chang's most important goal is to clean up the environment, particularly by bringing the Lehigh Southwest Cement into compliance with state and federal standards. The quarry has been under public scrutiny since early 2011 and is currently facing a with selenium and other toxins.
, it is also the single largest source of ozone-depleting nitrogen oxides in the Bay Area, and the quarry has already paid
"Everyone tries to beat around bush, dashing around. I'm very direct," Chang said. "The major problem here for the clean environment is Lehigh. Period."
Chang said he was himself sued by Lehigh for of. Despite following a judge's order that the protest remain outside the gates of the quarry and giving Lehigh notice of their demonstration, Chang was sued; however, the case was thrown out when Lehigh failed to appear at the hearing, Chang said.
"The judge said, '(If) you don't even bother to show up, why bother to file a lawsuit?'" he said. "This is Lehigh's tactic, trying to harass." Chang said he expects Lehigh to pour millions of dollars into attacking his campaign.
Chang also announced that he has won the endorsement of former San Jose mayor and U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who will be present at a fundraising event on March 10.
Supporters of Chang had high praise for the councilmember.
"He does what he believes in, not just to do what your regular politician would strategically do just to look good and fit in with the party," said Cupertino resident Karen Delcompare. "He's concerned about pollution and basically none of the other politicians or regulatory agencies were really doing much to make sure the laws are followed."
Another supporter said he hopes Chang will make the Chinese community more engaged in local issues. "In the entire Bay Area Chinese community, in public affairs, people are not interested very much," he said.
Delcompare added that she was disheartened by the against Chang which accused him of threatening other county employees.
"It's sad. It's really criminal what they did," she said. "I was there for all the meetings and he obviously didn't threaten anyone. It's crazy. But this is the world we live in -- there's a lot of corruption."