This past Tuesday, the City of Milpitas certified November 2020’s election results and held a swear-in ceremony over Zoom.
Mayor Rich Tran, who was elected to his third term, was sworn in first by Kelly King, who was his football coach when he was a student at Milpitas High School.
“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do. And I think we have all the resources and hearts and minds in City Hall to get through this COVID,” said Tran, after being sworn in.
Councilmember Anthony Phan was also sworn in for his second term; he played a video clip of himself with now-former Vice Mayor Bob Nuñez reading him the oath of office.
“Whether or not you voted for me, or Measure F, I will represent you with honor and integrity. And I will do my best to represent you,” said Councilmember Phan.
Measure F, which was passed by 60% of Milpitas voters, was certified in a special council meeting last week, allowing for the City to implement a quarter cent sales tax for a period of 8 years. This tax, which will go into effect on April 1, 2021, will help to maintain the City’s services and finances during these rough pandemic times.
Finally, Evelyn Chua was sworn in for her first term as Councilmember via video by her daughter, her two granddaughters…and their dog Howard.
“As councilmember, in any decision I make, at the forefront will be how to serve you better,” said Councilmember Chua.
At the meeting, Mayor Tran also nominated Councilmember Carmen Montano as the next Vice Mayor for Milpitas. He noted how much of an impact Montano has had on him, and how, during his first few months at City Hall, she had given him advice.
“If it wasn’t for Carmen, I don’t think I would’ve made those decisions and taken those risks I’ve made…” said Mayor Tran.
Earlier this year, in January, Tran had proposed to Council the idea of rotating the position of Vice Mayor every year, to give every councilmember an opportunity to serve in the role. Per the move, Dominguez — who was in the middle of serving a two-year term as Vice Mayor — was taken out of her position, and Nuñez was made Vice Mayor in her place.
“I know that when the vice mayor role was stripped away from me, and the basis for that was because it was shared leadership so I just have a question…I still believe in the notion of shared leadership and I believe the city of Milpitas has spoken. And Councilmember Phan has received the most votes…” said Dominguez.
She also added: “Why are we steering away from the shared leadership concept that you brought forward, I think it was, maybe a year ago?”
Unspoken was the fact that Montano has already been vice mayor in the past, under former Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves.
Tran responded to Dominguez that he wanted to “nominate the person I can count on the most.”
In the end, Montano was voted in, with all voting for her except for Dominguez, who abstained.
Early on in the meeting, the Council, City Manager, and City Attorney delivered a farewell to Nuñez, who lost his re-election bid this past November. As councilmembers took turns saying goodbye and recalling what they appreciated most about working with Nuñez, things began to get emotional.
“I don’t think there are enough words to describe how thankful I am for your guidance and your leadership,” said Councilmember Phan, trying to hold back tears. “You already know how much you mean to me, and the impact you’ve made on my life…Know that I will try my best to continue your work. I’ve asked for the items that you brought forward to be continued under my name. Even so, I know that I have big shoes to fill.”
Montano mentioned her appreciation for the way Nuñez demonstrated his wisdom, as well as his approach to problem-solving. Dominguez noted the many lessons Nuñez has taught her, among them the need to remember to always smile, enjoy the job playfully, and not take things so heavily; she also brought up his ability to lift others up.
Mayor Tran spoke of his appreciation for the way Nuñez took the lead in situations like that involving Sunnyhills Apartments, where nearly 149 households were in danger of being evicted from their homes back in 2017.
As Nuñez listened to everyone, he sometimes wiped away tears.
“I don’t know who this person is you’ve been describing,” said Nuñez. “Because it sure as hell isn’t me. You have it backwards. All of you have taught me so many things. So let’s leave it at thank you, and I’ll be seeing you at all the coffee places once we’re out of COVID.”