Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran says heâll follow through on his threat to mount a recallÂ campaign against council colleague Anthony Phan. The 33-year-old mayor even set a firm deadline. If Phan, 23, doesnât 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 Phanâs political committee, which basically cast Tran as a commie apparatchik. Backlash ensued. It was widely agreed upon that Phan, as a Vietnamese-American, shouldâve known better than to reopen old wounds for the community as a whole and for Tranâs war refugee mother in particular.
Phan commended Tran on his re-election, but said heâs committed to carrying out his own term.Â âRight now, the only think Iâm focused on is continuing to ensure a high quality fo life for Milpitas residents,â Phan said.Â âWith 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.â
That the attack ad backfired by evoking more sympathy for Tran, and that he handily won a second term over more veteran rivalsânamely Councilman Bob NuÃ±ez and former Mayor Jose Estevesâsuggests 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, whoâs 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.
âThe voters are tired of politics taking over the issues that most people care about in the community,â Dominguez says. âI think people here are ready to move forward.â
Tran echoes that sentiment, and says heâs learned from his early mistakes, like when he introduced his first policyâa ban on the sale of non-rescue cats and dogsâwithout first trying to build consensus. It was promptly shut down.Â âMembers of the council thought it was a political effort,â he recalls. âIt was a great lesson about politics in City Hall.â
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.Â On her agenda for the coming year: a push for tenant protections, new affordable housing construction, job creation and crime prevention. On Tranâs: reining in development so Milpitas families donât get displaced, cracking down on illegal massage parlors, creating a comprehensive homeless strategy.
Thereâs some conflict there, especially when it comes to their stances on development. But should Dominguez hold on to her lead over Barbadilloâand she most certainly will, considering how it widened to 568 votes Tuesdayâthe former state legislative aide says sheâs ready to collaborate. âIf we learned anything from this election,â she says in a phone call, âitâs that we need to move past our own differences.â