As Stanford’s director of local government affairs, Domingo Candelas worked with a wide range of stakeholders to help support the university’s academic mission of teaching and research.

Domingo Candelas

Domingo Candelas (Image credit: Courtesy Domingo Candelas)

Now he brings that experience into his new role as San Jose City Councilmember for District 8.

“Whether with folks at different schools at the university or with external organizations like the chambers of commerce or advocacy organizations, my time at Stanford provided me with more insight into the role of advocacy and creating policy that I now carry with me as a city councilmember who is working to represent more than 100,000 people,” Candelas said.

“From the first time we met Domingo we felt his passion to tackle regional issues in partnership with policymakers,” said Ryan Adesnik, vice president for government affairs. “We are excited to see him channel the passion that served Stanford so well as a member of the San Jose City Council.”

Candelas worked at Stanford from late 2021 until his appointment to the city council earlier this year. Candelas represents the Evergreen neighborhoods in District 8 after the seat was vacated by Sylvia Arenas, who was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

“I really enjoyed my time at Stanford and especially the government affairs team that I got to work with,” Candelas said. “They are amazing people that do great work caring for the university and moving the university’s mission forward, and I look forward to partnering with the university on possible initiatives going forward in my time as city councilmember.”

Kelly Kline, associate vice president for local government affairs, said Domingo’s “optimism and energy was infectious.” “Domingo distinguished himself during his Stanford tenure by helping the university expand meaningful community partnerships throughout Santa Clara County and beyond,” she added.

A passion for government

The journey has been a long time in the making. Candelas was born and raised in District 8 as one of five children. His parents moved to the U.S. from Zacatecas, Mexico, “in search of the American Dream,” Candelas said. He later attended San Jose State University for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in public administration, and was a first-generation college graduate for his family.

Domingo Candelas attends a fun run as part of a sponsored event in Belmont. (Image credit: Shweta Bhatnagar)

“My parents taught me and my brothers and sister the value of working hard, having integrity, and perseverance,” Candelas said. “It’s truly a privilege to be able to serve the community that’s given me and my family so much.”

Growing up, his family would watch presidential debates in Spanish on TV. Afterward, Candelas went to school, where he learned more about the process and purpose of government.

“My parents were immigrants, and they wanted to see the process and be in tune,” Candelas said. “I think that’s where my passion for government first started.”

His parents did not have the opportunity to go to college, Candelas said. Instead, his father went to trade school before starting his own heating and air conditioning business while his mother stayed at home and raised their children.

“They cared enough about education and about being mindful of the country that they just immigrated to that they would pay attention to the news, because they knew it would affect their family, their children, and their future,” Candelas said.

Candelas went on to work in local government affairs for Valley Water, as district director for Sen. Jim Beall, and within the California State Senate.

At the Farm

Growing up in San Jose, Candelas said he was always aware of Stanford as a nearby world-class institution, “so when the opportunity to bring my experience in government relations and advocacy presented itself, I had to go for it.”

Domingo Candelas attends a Stanford football game during his time working in Government Affairs. (Image credit: Lucy Wicks)

The Office of Government Affairs supports the university’s academic mission of teaching and research, and Stanford Health Care’s missions by serving as the primary point of contact between the university, hospital, and local, state, and federal governments. The office also fosters relationships with policy organizations, businesses, and neighboring communities.

With the support of leadership and partnership with the Office of Community Engagement, Candelas said the government affairs team is “really able to provide the expertise and the subject matter experts at the university when engaging with key stakeholder groups to say, ‘Hey this is how we can help, this is what we have available at the Farm just up the road.’”

Further, Candelas said he cherished the chance to bring his perspective and lived experience as a first-generation college graduate, English as a Second Language learner, and the son of immigrants to his work at Stanford.

“The opportunity to be able to bring that lens and my voice to the table in different internal and external meetings was part of what I loved about Stanford,” Candelas said. “The IDEAL initiative Stanford is doing is key, because if we want to expand on our diversity, equity, and inclusion work, we have to be intentional, and I appreciated the opportunity to contribute to an institution and organization that places value on that.”

Candelas will serve in the San Jose City Council seat until the 2024 election.