Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran Vows to Follow Through on Recall Threat

Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran says he’ll follow through on his threat to mount a recall campaign against council colleague Anthony Phan. The 33-year-old mayor even set a firm deadline. If Phan, 23, doesn’t resign by the end of the last day of the year, Tran vows to start gathering signatures the very next morning.

Their dispute stems from an 11th hour campaign mailer admittedly authorized by Phan’s political committee, which basically cast Tran as a commie apparatchik. Backlash ensued. It was widely agreed upon that Phan, as a Vietnamese-American, should’ve known better than to reopen old wounds for the community as a whole and for Tran’s war refugee mother in particular.

Phan commended Tran on his re-election, but said he’s committed to carrying out his own term. “Right now, the only think I’m focused on is continuing to ensure a high quality fo life for Milpitas residents,” Phan said. “With humility and optimism, I look forward to working on the issues that matter most: affordable housing, transportation and fiscal sustainability. As always, I welcome collaboration with any who is willing.”

That the attack ad backfired by evoking more sympathy for Tran, and that he handily won a second term over more veteran rivals—namely Councilman Bob Nuñez and former Mayor Jose Esteves—suggests that the tide has turned for the young mayor.

After two years on the defensive, batting away claims of plagiarism and uninvited hugging, among other things, Tran is flexing his political muscles. Meanwhile, the tentative victory of Carmen Montano, who’s back after a 2016 re-election loss, and newcomer Karina Dominguez over incumbents Marsha Grilli and Garry Barbadillo could be interpreted as a referendum on the sitting council.

“The voters are tired of politics taking over the issues that most people care about in the community,” Dominguez says. “I think people here are ready to move forward.”

Tran echoes that sentiment, and says he’s learned from his early mistakes, like when he introduced his first policy—a ban on the sale of non-rescue cats and dogs—without first trying to build consensus. It was promptly shut down. “Members of the council thought it was a political effort,” he recalls. “It was a great lesson about politics in City Hall.”

While Dominguez may not always see eye to eye with Tran, she shares his affinity for using social media to reach voters and his emphasis on mundane quality-of-life issues like weed abatement and trash cleanup. On her agenda for the coming year: a push for tenant protections, new affordable housing construction, job creation and crime prevention. On Tran’s: reining in development so Milpitas families don’t get displaced, cracking down on illegal massage parlors, creating a comprehensive homeless strategy.

There’s some conflict there, especially when it comes to their stances on development. But should Dominguez hold on to her lead over Barbadillo—and she most certainly will, considering how it widened to 568 votes Tuesday—the former state legislative aide says she’s ready to collaborate. “If we learned anything from this election,” she says in a phone call, “it’s that we need to move past our own differences.”

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15 Comments

  1. Phan did this at the behest of CANNABIS lobbyists like Victor Gomez, his business partner. Look at Phan’s Form 700. He lists Pinnacle Strategies. The South Bay Silicon Valley Community Coalition is a phony group. Victor Gomez has a partner who was the treasurer of SILICON VALLEY COMMUNITY COALITION. That committee raised money for Carrasco. Victors old boss. Tran opposed CANNABIS, Nunez and Phan supported it.

    The dots are connected. Why is Victor so bad at making pizza and lying?

  2. > The City of Miliptas is a complete joke.
    Phan should be recalled, however. Possible jailed.

    I’m surprised to learn that there is a corrupt, dysfunctional clown show right on San Jose’s doorstep that is inexplicably being denied San Jose’s attention and help.

    San Jose has lots of extra money laying around. Is there anything we can do to help you folks out?

    How is your supply of homeless?

  3. Phan messed up with that mailer. But since it had the opposite effect and Tran now has a majority, he should really abandon the idea of a recall and focus on governing. These revenge antics he’s playing further solidifies his role as the Trump of Milpitas. Move on buddy

  4. … Especially what they did with the sanitation company now being used. BFI was good. Now they use some other company that Milpitas pays less for and charges Milpitas residents more money for.

  5. As an animal lover, got to say that I like Tran a little more knowing that his first proposed policy was related to animal welfare. Wish I had learned about it sooner, because reading the Mercury News coverage of it now, I find it fascinating that the council nixed it based largely on the fact that they have to pay their city attorney based on an hourly rate:

    >City Attorney Chris Diaz’s firm Best, Best & Krieger charges a per hour rate for all work done by Diaz whether he drafts ordinances himself or reviews them before they come before the council.

    I never knew this was a thing. Is this really commonplace? Shouldn’t the city attorney just be paid a salary? Is Diaz the city attorney, or is his firm the city attorney? Seems bizarre to me, but maybe I’m just ignorant of what is standard practice.

  6. I agree with Nguyen. Move on. Address the issues facing the city and its residence instead of spending his effort on recalling. Let it go, Tran. Your very reelection is a testimony to whatever names Phan was labeling you is just bull___.

  7. I agree. It is time to provide the residents with effective governing not sniping distractions. The comedy has ceased.
    For instance, what is being done to mitigate traffic congestion and increasing fees?

  8. Rich, go after Phan and take care of business. I’ll let my neighbors know to try and support you the best we can. You’ve done a good job, let’s get rid of the other members on the council who are also causing issues. Another must is to ban pot shops from opening in this city.

  9. Banning pot and going after Phan are directly related. Phan with Victor Gomez at Pinnacle Strategies are connected.

    Take Phan, add cannabis, multiply with money, add Carrasco, there is corruption.

  10. Anthony Phan is not some puppetmaster. He’s one council member. He’s like the youngest one. It’s just a stupid mail piece that didn’t work. Seriously, move on and find something substantive to work on Mr. Mayor!

  11. Phan as a principal of the cannabis business should not have a vote on any cannabis related issues. Milpitas should have a permanent ban on commercial cannabis businesses in order to provide a better and safer environment for the residents and future generations.

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