This article is part of a series on figures who have declared their candidacy for Milpitas City Council or Mayor of Milpitas for November’s general election. The filing period for candidacy opened on July 13 and will close on August 7. Two City Council seats and the Mayor’s seat are up for grabs. The entire series can be found here.
When Councilmember Anthony Phan ended his bid for an assembly seat in March, the 26-year-old lawmaker found thoughtful words amidst his defeat:
“Leading with humility is something not new to me,” Phan wrote on his Assembly campaign page. “I remain humbled in my ongoing journey to serve others.”
And it’s that journey and experience, coupled with—in his words—his depth of knowledge, that Phan thinks most qualifies him for another term on the Council.
“It’s incumbent that we have leaders with the right vision, with the depth of knowledge and understanding of these complex issues to carry out that vision,” said Phan.
The Councilmember points to the hours of work he’s put into studying and crafting the City’s master plan alongside City staff, as well as his intimate knowledge of city planning and land use, as assets of his campaign.
Phan became one of the youngest elected leaders in the country when the then-22-year-old Vietnamese-American won a City Council seat in 2016.
Once branding himself as a far-left progressive, Phan gradually moved toward the center on issues like business and fiscal responsibility. He’s backed business-friendly groups like the Silicon Valley Organization and the California Apartment Association, and remains friendly with local labor groups.
“One of the proudest things I’ve done on the Council is bringing thousands of good-paying jobs to Milpitas,” said Phan. “It’s a big accomplishment other cities would love to have. The reason they come to Milpitas is we have the infrastructure. We have transit, we have housing.”
Phan has also racked up some moments that he’s not so proud of, but he maintains he’s grown from them: publicly lambasting then-planning director Brad Misner for his work performance in February, 2018; and publicly likening Mayor Rich Tran to a Vietnamese communist in the fall of 2018. He issued apologies for both.
Phan’s current priorities include maintaining good emergency response services and emergency response times, balancing the City’s budget, expanding fire department infrastructure—including building a new fire station, and better preparing the city for public health crises.
The main health crisis on everyone’s mind, the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, has exasperated many cities across the nation, and Milpitas is no exception. It’s a fact Phan is aware of, as Milpitas faces one of the largest budget shortfalls in its history. He credits his and his colleagues’ work with ensuring that Milpitas has an adequate emergency reserve fund.
“[The emergency fund] is why we didn’t have to have drastic cuts,” said Phan. “We’re doing much better than other cities during this time of pandemic because we prepared for it.”
And because, Phan added, of his ability to work cohesively with his four fellow Councilmembers—a working relationship that he says is critical to getting goals accomplished, and a winning formula to get more items passed in the next four years.
“There’s a lot of things we’ve accomplished in this city,” said Phan of his fellow Councilmembers and of City staff. “But there’s a lot of work that needs to be continued.”
Phan is joined in the Council race by fellow incumbent and current Vice Mayor Bob Nuñez, current Milpitas Planning Commissioner Evelyn Chua, former Milpitas Planning Commission Vice Chair Demetress Morris, Business Executive Suraj Viswanathan, and Tenant Advocate and Organizer Tiffany Vuong.
Current position: Councilmember (December 2016-present)
Running for: Reelection
Declared candidacy: March 2020