What do you bring to the table that the other candidates do not?
Timothy Alcorn: I’m bringing a fresh set of eyes and motivation as someone who has lived here for a very long time and cares a great deal for his city. You know, these issues that I’ve been talking about are very serious. And I don’t think the current city councilmen — with all due respect to them of course — but I don’t think they see it as big of an issue as it really is. It comes down to this…the Milpitas City Council is there to serve the residents of Milpitas. We’re there to make decisions to better the quality of life and the overall happiness of Milpitas. And when it comes down to it, that means addressing these big issues. That means finding ways to protect our current affordable housing. Finding ways to expand the Affordable Housing Act. There’s a bill that will come this November that might actually help affordable housing become more real. I see — not with all the councilmen — but I see lack of motivation to really take on the big issues. I think fear of whatever may be with them; but there’s a lack of motivation to take on these big issues that are really hurting Milpitians.
Garry Barbadillo: Let me answer that with a statement first, and I will tell you. Whoever comes, and offers, and steps on the arena to be elected as a council member or a mayor, I always believe that it comes from within, it comes from good faith. When these candidates get elected, I just hope, like me, they stand for what the community wants; decides on policies that are community-based and not be influenced by 3rd party interest or political sway. For the last four years I’ve been doing that. History can tell that all the decisions that are made on the dais in the council are based on what I believed to be better for the community, what I believe to be better for all the families. For the last four years, my integrity has not been challenged. I stand on one side on any critical issue that was thrown to Milpitas regardless of its popularity. I don’t mind that people will not like my vote, as long as my conscious and my thinking is satisfied; that I’m doing this not just because somebody wants me to do it but because it’s better for the community. So the virtue of integrity, the virtue of loyalty, is all I can offer. Again, there is nothing changed in the last four years. My promise is to continue what I’ve been doing and remain as steadfast on what the community and grassroots needs. That’s probably the difference that I have.
Karina Dominguez: I believe the number one thing I bring to the table is I understand the resources that are available at the state level and at the county level; and how are we going to maximize those resources at the local level by building partnerships and collaborations. I believe that I am a bridger; I definitely have the skillset because of my profession. I am a Crime Prevention Specialist for the San Jose Police Department. I often mitigate disagreements in our departments, not only with external factors. Unfortunately there are a lot of conversations right now against law enforcement. So when we are out in the community there are many times that folks mostly are upset with us, because of response times or their issues do not get resolved. And so for me, that experience has really allowed me to get a different perspective on a lot of things. Something that I didn’t have before. Mediating is one of them. And I do believe that is something we are lacking in our city. We need to continue being goal-oriented. We need to develop that vision for our city as a whole, and for me, I bring to the table the skills to start working on day one. My education, my experience, my maturity — everything adds up to make sure that I put the city of Milpitas first.
Marsha Grilli: I bring a reputation of being a collaborative leader with experience, and showing results, and supporting our working families. The last two years was very effective in bringing forward the minimum wage policy and the wage theft policy to support our families. I introduced the community-oriented budget process that was something that we didn’t have. I’ve learned over my years as an elected official that we need to be more willing to listen to our community and to bring them in and to let them highlight what their priorities are. Sometimes as elected officials we think we know what they are, but unless we’re sitting down and listening, we sometimes miss what that is.
Robert Marini: I’m a retired electronics engineer, and I’ve got a technical background. So I’m analyzing all these reports of the cost to the city and the costs to the residents of Milpitas. I don’t think the council members right now read any of these reports. Because they are not attuned to it, they’re happy taking all these joy trips all over the country and even to foreign countries. Like one of them went to China for instance. So they’re more based on complying with the results of the city employees. So if the city employees say, “Hey I want 22% increase in fees for water or any infrastructure,” they’ll go along with it. So what my thing is, now I read the reports; and that’s why I know that the residents are being taken advantage of. And I’d like to expand the number of council members to 7, from 5, right now just to give the people a better choice. And let me just say, in my background, how I’ve supported the city or work for the city. I was on the Water Rates Task Force, so I know about the things I just told you before; they are transferring money. But I also went out on the streets and knocked on doors to get signatures to get our water rates reduced. And the city council members, two of which are running, defeated it. Basically …Esteves defeated it, Marsha Grilli defeated it, and Debbie Giordano defeated it . So there are only 5 people…only 2 people for it, and 3 people against. So let the people vote on it. Our democracy is being taken away from us basically. So that’s what I feel in my opinion. And that’s why I have to work with the residents; I went out door to door and with other people. Of course, I didn’t do it all by myself, to try to get the initiative passed. And the city council members defeated it. Just recently I asked the city council members to give the amount of water sold last year to the residents of Milpitas, and the employees would not let me have it. So I filed a formal request for information, which means that the city’s got 14 days to respond to that. So guess what, they didn’t respond to it. My background is in engineering. I read the reports, I know what’s going on, I worked for the community. I’ve gone out and done work to help the residents get a better deal from the city but it seems like your chance of changing things through an initiative are gone. It’s not a democracy anymore, basically.
Carmen Montano: I’ve lived here since 1964, been a long time resident. I know my community, I went to schools here. Three generations, I went to school here; my kids went to school here, and now my grandkids go to school here. So we have a huge vested interest making sure that future generations will get the best services from the city. The other thing, I’ve been elected on the school board, elected twice. I served as a city council member and a vice mayor, so I have the experience. And I think most of all is that I really care about this city because I grew up here; and I want to make sure that citizens and the community…that their quality of life is not affected and is sustained. We have good services, good schools, good parks, good recreation facilities, and a clean city…So we want to make sure that we have all those elements that a good city contributes to the people.
Van Lan Truong: I can bring a lot. For a long time, a lot of minority communities were not at the table when we made a decision. I want to change that. I want more celebration for us. I want more people to learn about each other and different cultures. When you build a relationship and have a greater understanding…you don’t look at it as — me and them. You want the best for your family. People from different cultures and languages bring more to the table. We are known as the most diverse small city in our county, the highest percentage. But then, do we work together? Do we really know each other? Do we really appreciate all the different cultures? I’m big on that. I want our city to be able to have more celebrations to bring people together, to work together so we can create better solutions and better programming services for our community.
Suraj “Sun” Viswanathan: The one and foremost thing is that we all run for this election as candidates, and we have our own vision. But at the end of the day we all work for the people. That’s what I bring to the table. At the end of the day I work for everyone and whatever it takes to work for the city will be done. If it has to be negotiated to get to a deal which is going to benefit everyone in the city then I will be there negotiating for on behalf of the people sitting across the table and finding out a way that we can work together. I think that is what at the end of the day is needed at the highest level in the city. Because the city staff is all doing their job when directed by the council. So we already have the best people in place. But it all comes down to what decision we can agree upon in that council. So if we can sit together and say, “Yes we want to do it,” then things are going to get done. That is the strength I will bring to the table.
Note: Some of the candidates’ responses have been lightly edited for clarity.