With 55 percent of the ballots counted Thursday, Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran is on track for an easy victory. The 33-year-old mayor trounced his predecessor, six-term Mayor Jose Esteves, despite a barrage of negative hit pieces that tried to depict Tran as a lush, a flake andâbizarrelyâa communist.
Tran currently claims more than 47 percent of the vote compared to just 26 percent for Esteves and 18 percent for Councilman Bob NuÃ±ez.Â Voltaire MontemayorÂ andÂ Yoon Il LeeÂ trailed way behind with 4.3 percent and 3.5 percent of the votes, respectively.
Meanwhile, two incumbents on the council,Â Marsha GrilliÂ andÂ Garry Barbadillo lagged behind former CouncilwomanÂ Carmen Montano, who received Tranâs endorsement,Â and newcomerÂ Karina Dominguez.
As soon as early returns posted Tuesday, Tran knew he had reason to celebrateâbecause of his own commanding lead, of course, but also over the prospect of gaining some allies on the historically fractious council.
Shortly after the white-noise-and-tongue-clicks beat of âDrop It Like Itâs Hotâ began to play, Tran entered Crawdaddy, a small crawfish restaurant about a stoneâs throw from the Great Mall where he spent his election night with friends and supporters. Despite the dramatic timing, his entrance was unceremonious and surprisingly laid-back.
There was no applause, no speech and no announcement. It was clear that the young mayor didnât want this to be a stuffy political event. Besides the waxy white butcher paper covering the table at the by-the-bag seafood joint, decoration was at a minimum. Instead of a button-up and tie, the mayor donned black jeans, a black Nike polo shirt and a cursive âMilpitasâ tattoo visible on his inner forearm.
âYouâre not supposed to make requests, but Iâm a big fan of Jay Z,â the mayor said, standing a few feet from where DJ Raymix played a mashup of âABCâ and âOPP.âÂ In 2016, Tran was criticized for quoting Jay Z in his apology for cribbing Obamaâs acceptance speech in his own.
The self-described âhuggerâ sauntered around the room embracing constituents instead of shaking hands. At every table, people gathered around to take selfies with the 33-year-old mayor, a photo op he seemed more at ease with than many politicians.
As the night progressed, the atmosphere loosened and livened up at Crawdaddy. Before long, Tran began handing out shots of Hennessy to the crowd as DJ Raymix scratched over the chorus of Totoâs âAfrica.â Another win hung in the air. âIâm keeping it real,â the mayor philosophized as he maintained a strong lead in early reports.