Milpitas Swaps Vice Mayors

Bob Nuñez is in and Karina Dominguez is out as the vice mayor of Milpitas.

The appointment, made at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, marks the end of a nearly two-month long saga sparked when Mayor Rich Tran suggested cutting Dominguez’s vice mayorship short in the interest of promoting “shared leadership.” Dominguez was only halfway through her two-year tenure when Tran made the Nov. 19 announcement, which inflamed tensions between the two colleagues.

But before ousting Dominguez, the council decided to solicit the public’s input on how long the vice mayorship should be.

Preliminary results presented by city officials earlier this week show that out of the 84 people who responded to the survey, which was posted on NextDoor, 67.9 percent said they preferred a two-year term for the largely symbolic second-in-command position. The information was meant to serve as an “interim” update so residents who were gone for the holidays could get the chance to respond to the survey in the new year. Final results were slated to be presented at the Jan. 21 council meeting.

But Milpitas councilors decided to charge ahead, voting 3-0 to appoint Nuñez as vice mayor. Dominguez and Councilwoman Carmen Montano abstained.

“I’m very confident that with council member Nuñez having the opportunity this year in 2020 we’ll be able to get a lot of work done,” Tran told San Jose Inside.

Immediately after the decision, Dominguez stepped out of the council meeting to air her grievances on Facebook Live. “Many of you guys know that I’m a bold leader, and tonight I am calling out the mayor,” she said. “I’m calling him out for his childishness, for his pettiness, for his sexist and for his bullying ways of how he did governance tonight.”

Tran said he heard about the video from some of his high school friends.

“I’m not sure where council member Dominguez is trying to go with that,” he said. “She got up in the middle of the meeting and left, and, really, that’s unacceptable to Milpitas residents. We have business to conduct and we don’t need her absences.”

Dominguez also took issue with what she called a lack of transparency around the appointment decision, which was expected to be made later this month. She said the council chambers were noticeably empty compared to the December meeting, which was attended by many of her supporters. Moving up the appointment was done in a “strategic and tactic political way,” she concluded.

Tran disputed that claim, saying attendance on Tuesday was pretty typical.

“At the December meeting, we had abundance of San Jose and Santa Clara County residents that attended the meeting,” he said. “Although I appreciate our guests and visitors here in Milpitas who are welcome at any time, this is a Milpitas decision and we had Milpitas residents who did attend and who did speak up.”

Nuñez’s term as vice mayor will last through the end of this year.

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase.

18 Comments

  1. I never understood the smarty pants eggheads yapping “late stage capitalism”, I guess this is what they are talking about. Life must be so good in Milpitas that this title fight is a thing. All of them should term limited out of politics.

    • ” Life must be so good in Milpitas that this title fight is a thing. ”

      I respectfully disagree. Life is not that good in Milpitas for a number of people. There are multiple issues and struggles at stake in Milpitas, and this ends up being reflected at the city leadership level. There are a lot of things tied into this “title fight” which make it something complex and not lightly dismissed. SJI’s coverage here is reasonably balanced and neutral

      http://www.michaeltsai.org

      • Then argue about something that matters and not this identity and ceremonial farce. Identity is a trick to distract the nonreasoning person from looking for solutions to universal problems, they just get trapped into ingroup biases. Distribution of meaningless credit is used by the powerful to make their minions think they have more status than they really do. The entire city council looks foolish, this rag uses it to inflame the identitarians, and in the meanwhile the complex problems of the Milipitians go unaddressed.

        http://www.whowerethekulaks.org

        • You raise good points, thank you. And this is honestly something I’ve grappled with in my transition from private citizen to public official. I studied economics and policy as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley and we did drill into complex issues in a rigorous manner. But try communicating with the public in the form of long thesis papers and statistical studies! The vast majority of them would tune out within a few minutes – people are busy and have short attention spans. Even if they didn’t tune out, a lot of the issues are complex enough to be difficult to understand unless you have a degree (or more) in the subject, or have years of policymaking experience. Most people communicate in and understand Twitter soundbites, not long policy papers.

          So identity issues become used as a shorthand to convey messages in a manner that the public can digest and understand. A good standard for an elected official is someone who can combine an advanced understanding of policy (which both Rich* and Karina* do) and simultaneously condense and convey it in a way the average citizen can readily understand.

          *Rich has a masters degree in policy, Karina has extensive policy experience from working at the state legislature

          • are you jokimg? Tribalism is not a framework to solve problems and dumbing down discourse does not convey information to voters, it tunes them out.

  2. Why did the City Attorney allow this topic to be an action item, rather than just a “receive the interim report” item?

  3. This was a total cloak-and-dagger move, rushing the vote instead of simply having it a couple weeks later when it was originally planned. Not the kind of thing you would do if you were trying to build bridges or mend fences. Even if you disagree with the majority of those Milpitas residents polled on NextDoor and think that Milpitas should move to a one-year Vice-Mayor term, and even if you additionally believe that that change should happen right now halfway through the current Vice-Mayor’s term, you’ve got to recognize that this policy change could have been implemented with far more integrity.

    • He originally made Dominguez vice mayor in an attempt to court her. Back then he used to post very flattering pictures of her on his Facebook page along with romantic song lyrics (awww). But she rejected him and he resents her. So now he is taking away her title with these cloak and dagger moves as punishment. What a soap opera

  4. At least Karina has a future, way bigger than Milpitas. RichTran can do the voice for the next Yertle the Turtle animation before being retired by voters.

  5. Too bad Milpitas is still saddled with at-large city council seats and top two voting. None of them really represent more than a small percentage of the city.

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