Milpitas Mayor, Former Council Ally Clash On Facebook

Personal and political tensions between Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran and Councilwoman Karina Dominguez have boiled over again on social media.

This past week, the two colleagues riled each other into a heated debate on Tran’s public Facebook page over their voting records, some alleged backroom deals and the mayor revoking Dominguez’s vice mayorship.

The pair’s working relationship first started showing signs of strain late last year when Tran suggested cutting Dominguez’s vice mayorship short to promote “shared leadership” on the City Council. But at the time, Dominguez was only halfway through her two-year term as the council’s second-in-command.

The decision, which culminated in January with the council appointing Bob Nuñez as the new vice mayor, sparked accusations from Dominguez that Tran was being sexist and a bully. The mayor refuted those claims on numerous occasions.

That feud appeared to have started up once again in the comments of a July 1 Facebook post in which Tran mentions his re-election campaign.

“Hands-down most transparent mayor in the history of Milpitas,” supporter Daniel Le Gend wrote. “I’ve learned more about my city with you in office than I have my entire life living here. Keep pushing to make this city one of the best places to live in the Bay Area!”

But not everyone agreed with Le Gend.

“You mean how he handled dumping the vice mayor?” Molly Current asked.

Then, Dominguez chimed in, saying that reappointing a new vice mayor was “not even an option.” She also alluded to the fact that she and the mayor are not on speaking terms. “A leader doesn’t give silent treatments,” she wrote, “when they get told ‘no’ they bridge and try to understand the ‘no.’”

Tran responded to say that he stands by his votes and that he wants Dominguez to email him. In turn, she said that she already had reached out to him and that his response was “unprofessional.” Dominguez then went on to say that her vote was “not for sale or available for backdoor deals.”

Tran shot back, telling his colleague, “I think you’re the one that made a deal with real estate developers granting them an exception to not build affordable housing for our local families.” The mayor was referencing a decision made by the council last fall to exempt developers from having to build affordable housing as part of a 40-unit condominium project near the BART station. The decision from the council was unanimous—Tran, however, was absent from the vote because of his service with the National Guard.

“My voting record is 100 percent for affordable housing for our community,” he continued. “Your record, not the same.”

Dominguez told San Jose Inside that her comment about her vote not being for sale was in reference to a quid-pro-quo that Tran offered her last summer. The councilwoman claims that he asked her to be an unconditional vote for him in exchange for her remaining vice mayor. Tran, however, called the allegation a “silly proposition” and Dominguez a “novice council member.”

“I will always take a stand in public or virtually when any member of the council or any politician in Milpitas puts forward false information,” he said. “It’s disheartening and sad that the council member would accuse me of different issues that have been voted on in Milpitas when every time I respond with an article with facts.”

Tran added that he was proud of the council’s “effort to really collaborate as a whole” amid the coronavirus pandemic. “The council’s not made up of two people,” he said. “I think we’ve all done a part to move the city forward.”

But that’s not how Dominguez sees it.

The councilwoman said she’s been asking to meet with Tran for a year now in an effort to smooth things over, but that the mayor has yet to take her up on the offer.

“We need a true team,” she said in a phone call. “People are dying. People can’t make the rent. People can’t afford food. I feel I have a great relationship with the other members of the council. His behavior has been consistent and so I felt it was important for me to call it out…I feel ready that we should have this discussion and so when he’s available and when he’s ready my door will always be open.”

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. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

11 Comments

  1. > “My voting record is 100 percent for affordable housing for our community,” he continued.

    “Oh, and FREE CAKE, too!”

    “Cheap housing, free cake, paid for by someone else. VOTE FOR ME!”

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EcBTRyiU4AAdzyR?format=jpg&name=900×900

    – – – – – – –

    Just thinking out loud: How would local politics be changed if it were possible to remove a local elected official QUICKLY and EASILY?

    Imagine a system where a simple majority of the City Council could call for a mail-in vote of confidence on a council member or the mayor?

    On Monday, the City Council votes “no confidence”; on Tuesday ballots are mailed out, on the following Monday, returned ballots are counted. BOOM! You’re out.

    (For a council member, only the voters in the District could vote.)

    I think this type of system would encourage local elected officials to act like grown-ups and avoid all the junior high school and social media drama.

  2. I am shaking my head so hard at Rich Tran right now. Tran has become the Donald Trump of the South Bay, more comfortable with insulting his opponent as a “novice council member” (I think that’s pure projection, by the way, considering what a crazy record of gaffes and mini-scandals Tran has accumulated during his bumbling tenure as mayor) than actually addressing what she has to say.

    The feud between Dominguez and Tran is very real and documented in the media. Milpitas Councilmember Anthony Phan did an interview with the Milpitas Beat in January in which he was asked about the conflict, and he had this to say about his decision to side with Tran in taking away Dominguez’ vice-mayorship:

    “It was never personal. At the end of the day, whoever is gonna sit in the chair next to the Mayor should have a good working relationship — at the bare minimum, a working relationship. It doesn’t need to be a positive relationship; they don’t need to be allies, but a bare minimum — a working relationship. I don’t think it’s a secret that there has been tension between the two. I don’t think there was any other way to diffuse that tension.”

    Phan says it’s not personal, but then goes on to explain that it actually is personal. Tran’s own council ally acknowledges that the move to remove her had more to do with her relationship with Tran than the stated reasons of spreading leadership responsibility around.

    Why has Tran decided that he will not have a productive working relationship with Dominguez? Phan says in that interview “I can’t speak on behalf of them. My sense is that it’s political, or at least it started off political…” The implication seems, again, to be that the feud is personal. So if Tran is going to make his personal emotions the public’s issue, he should be forthcoming about why he feels the way he does, instead of dodging the real issue and making ridiculous attacks on Dominguez’ voting record that fall apart under the first bit of scrutiny from a reporter.

    What has been done to Dominguez has been sexist gaslighting. This country is becoming more conscious to mistreatment like this everyday, and the three men on the Milpitas Council who thought this was okay in 2019 might find a harsh judgement awaiting for them one day.

    • The small minded small talk of small town politics.

      > Tran has become the Donald Trump of the South Bay,

      Donald Trump is the President of the United States and a respected national and international figure.

      The comparison is just more small mindedness.

      • > Donald Trump is the President of the United States and a respected national and international figure.

        Yeah right! The man who left the G20 early because world leaders were caught on camera making fun of him is not a respected international figure, and at home his approval ratings are the worst of any President since approval ratings were invented. Big deal he’s the President of the US, all despots are leaders in one way or another, I’m not going to admire Hitler as a respected national figure just because he was Chancellor of Germany.

          • I could have said Stalin and Russia, Bubble. The point, which you’re ignoring to focus on a “gotcha” take instead of trying to learn something about your own thinking, is that YOUR logic, that being the leader of a country in itself makes someone worthy of a respect, could be applied to Hitler or Stalin just as well as Trump, and I 100% guarantee that people have defended those two figures with the exact same argument you are using in defense of Trump.

  3. Milpitas electors, excise this testicular cancer which gnaws at the heart of reproductive working relationships without remission.

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