Shift of Power in Milpitas: Old Guard Replaced by Young Bloods

Milpitas has a rep for Wild West politics, where political adversaries routinely dog each other at the dais and occasionally away from it (a few San Jose strays have also found their way into the mix). But after Election Day the city has a rare opportunity to move into a new era without some of its entrenched establishment. The departure of longtime Mayor Jose Esteves and election of 31-year-old Rich Tran, who bested former Councilwomen Debbie Indihar Giordano and Carmen Montano, is expected to provide an injection of youth. Tran, an Air Force reservist and medical social worker for the county, claims to be the youngest mayor in the entire Bay Area. After a failed council run in 2014, Tran sized up the competition for mayor this year and realized he would be the only candidate under 61 years old, giving him a distinct advantage if he traversed the 13-square-mile city by walking door-to-door 20 to 40 miles a week. Joining him on the council is incoming Councilman Anthony Phan, who at 23 is believed to be the youngest elected official in all of Santa Clara County. The two don’t exactly line up on the issues, as Phan ran on a platform of jobs and economic development and the new mayor, Tran, has proposed a moratorium on housing development until more schools are built. “We have an educational crisis in Milpitas," Tran said, noting that the city of roughly 70,000 has just one high school, which has created overcrowding in classrooms. “Once the school district gets their plans in place and shovels are in the ground, we’re going to build more houses.” Joining Tran and Phan is Bob Nuñez, a new councilman but longtime political stalwart. He was ousted as East Side superintendent in 2009 for being a little too Shirakawa, but got back in the mix in 2014 by snagging an education seat in Milpitas in 2014. With the departure of Esteves, Indihar Giordano and Montano, as well as voters giving the no-go to Milpitas political insider and council candidate Mark Tiernan, a new day could be coming. “I’m trying to bring some sanity to that City Council,” Phan said with a chuckle. Of course, none of this addresses the volatile work environment that frequently crops up with City Manager Tom Williams still stalking the city halls.

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