Evelyn Chua’s commitment to community service runs deep.
Whether it’s bringing homemade meals to police officers and firefighters, delivering face coverings to residents, or spending the morning picking up garbage in an attempt to beautify the city she so deeply loves, Chua serves with a kind of natural ease. The inclination to give back is deeply embedded in the core of her being.
And now, as the first woman of Filipino descent ever elected to serve on the Milpitas City Council, Chua has even more of an opportunity to contribute to a city that is rapidly growing and evolving.
“I feel really happy and grateful being given the chance to serve the community and the residents at the council level, on the policy-making level,” said Chua. “I’m ready for it.”
Chua’s first City Council run came back in 2016, when she took third place, trailing Anthony Phan by about 693 votes. This year, Chua received the second highest amount of votes, earning her one of two seats on the City Council. Phan, the top vote-getter, will keep his seat for another four years.
As a young girl growing up in the Philippines, Chua grew well-acquainted with what it’s like to struggle.
Her family lived in poverty. And when Chua was just 5 years old, her dad passed away.
“While my mom was working, my two brothers actually became my fathers. They took care of me,” said Chua. “One of my brothers, Ted…he was the one who put me through college.”
Ted enlisted in the U.S. Navy and after Chua graduated from high school, he petitioned for her and her mom to come to the United States.
“He told me that I have to give back to this country. Because we’re so fortunate to be here,” said Chua. “That’s how I learned to do my community work.”
Her brother was so fiercely committed to serving America that he even changed his name to Robert Francis, in honor of his idol Robert Kennedy.
But in 1968, tragedy struck. Chua’s brother was killed during the Vietnam War, at age 29. His words are something that Chua holds near to this day.
“Because of my brother’s loyalty to this country, that’s why I am the way I am,” said Chua.
Chua left the states briefly to attend college in the Philippines. And it was there that she met her future husband Conrad.
After the pair got married, their daughter, Welyn, was born; and the three of them left the Philippines and headed to the United States to build a new life together.
“At that time, it was unstable in the Philippines and we wanted a better place for our family,” said Chua.
The family arrived in the states with literally nothing to their name. They worked hard to find jobs and start earning money. It took time, but they were eventually able to stabilize. The trio lived throughout the Bay Area, and finally, in 1988, settled down in Milpitas.
Before being elected to the City Council, Chua served the City of Milpitas in many ways—ways which she feels have been instrumental in preparing her for her new role.
For example, she’s served on the Planning Commission for almost four years. She’ll finish up her duties by attending just one or two more meetings, before she officially leaves to join the Council.
Chua has also served on the Emergency Preparedness Commission and the Community Advisory Commission, for 3-4 years apiece. In 2016, she even came on as Chair of Milpitas’ Citizens Task Force on Water Rates.
And in 2017, Chua led an initiative to start a Safe Exchange Zone in the parking lot of the Milpitas Police Department. This area allows for the safe exchange of online purchases, as well as children custody exchanges between parents.
Professionally, Chua has worked as an Applications Programmer, a Systems Analyst, and a Project Manager for different companies. Back in the 90s, wanting to start her own business, she even went into real estate and became a broker in Milpitas for five years. And she officially retired from her last position, working as a Senior Operations Analyst at Silicon Valley Bank, in 2017.
The Chuas’ daughter and son-in-law have two girls. One of Chua’s greatest joys is watching her granddaughters grow up. Eileen, 17, loves horseback riding and has been riding for many years; and Annalyn, 14, loves to dance.
In her spare time, Chua loves watching Korean, Japanese, and Chinese dramas. She also enjoys Zumba classes, which she used to take at the Milpitas Sports Center before the pandemic started.
As far as what her priorities will be as a Councilmember, Chua already has some ideas…
The first one involves financial stability.
During this past election, residents voted for Measure F, the quarter cent tax measure which will provide more financial resources for police, fire, and other city services.
“I’m going to be razor-focused on financial stability, because it’s important. We have to make sure what we’re getting from Measure F is well spent,” said Chua. “We have to balance our budget. I’m going to be tight on that…No promotions, hiring freezes, no hiring of nonessential positions…It has to be highly justified when we’re hiring.”
She’s also looking forward to finding ways to entice new industrial and commercial development to come to the City, and to attract more businesses to Milpitas.
The homeless issue in Milpitas is something that Chua also feels called to address. She hopes to study the issue more, and would like to start a campaign to help increase the number of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and raise the affordable housing stock in Milpitas.
Chua plans to recommend that the City look into amending the housing ordinance, by which developers are able to pay an in lieu fee instead of allocating 15 percent of their developments to affordable housing.
“I don’t think they should pay the in lieu fee because we want the affordable housing,” said Chua.
In addition, Chua wishes to explore creating an ordinance that would protect youth from the harmful effects of e-cigarettes.
And finally, beautifying Milpitas is a passion of Chua’s, and something she wants to dedicate her attention to. One of her main ideas centers around the formation of a subcommittee that pays attention to the overall beautification of Milpitas — from cleanup to trees to parks to light poles to signs.
“We need a plan on how we can do this — and do it consistently and not drop the ball. Not just a one-time event, but a forever event,” said Chua. “That’s called Kaizen in Japanese — it’s constant improvement. I learned that when I worked at NUMMI. It’s about constantly improving how we can beautify Milpitas.”
Chua will be sworn in as a Milpitas City Councilmember in December.