The Assembly race is getting bigger, and the latest person to pull papers is yet another Milpitas City Councilmember.
Freshman Councilmember Anthony Phan officially filed for the open District 25 California Assembly seat yesterday, becoming the fourth out of five Milpitas City Council members to do so. Only Bob Nuñez has declined to enter the fray.
After current Assemblymember Kansen Chu announced he was vacating his seat to instead run for the county Board of Supervisors, Mayor Rich Tran announced his candidacy for Chu’s soon-to-be vacant position in May, followed by Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez within a week. Both dropped out of the race by the end of summer. Just weeks after, in September, fellow Councilmember Carmen Montano announced her own candidacy.
Phan enters the race hoping to bring a stronger platform for affordable housing, jobs, and transportation.
“I am running because I am so proud of Milpitas,” said Phan. “Where we are as a city, as a community, and all that we’ve been able to accomplish together has been truly inspirational.”
Elected in 2016 at the age of 22, Phan became one of the youngest Councilmembers in Milpitas history. He runs his own consulting firm and has also served on the City of San Jose’s Library Commission. Phan is also eligible for reelection to the City Council in 2020, and — despite his aspirations for higher office — said he wasn’t “ruling that [another term] out.”
A Democrat, Phan supported several affordable housing initiatives presented to the Council and has consistently sided with the area’s labor unions. But he’s also lent a sympathetic ear to the area’s business bloc, supporting Apple’s and Amazon’s forays into the city, along with giving support to the California Apartment Association and the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.
Phan’s first term has also seen some rocky moments. In June 2017, Phan was accused of allegedly misreporting a $43,000 contribution to his campaign, citing the loan as from his parents. When City officials allegedly told Phan the practice was against campaign finance rules, he reportedly reversed course, saying the loan had come from his own coffers.
At a council meeting in February, 2018, Phan publicly lambasted then-Milpitas Planning Director Brad Misner for his work performance, and threatened to conduct an employee performance review of Misner despite Councilmembers not having the authority to do so. In March, 2018, when a resident called him out on his behavior toward Misner, Phan told him to “look at me if you’re going to address me,” and to not “let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.”
Last November, Phan’s PAC was connected to an anti-Tran mailer likening the mayor to a Vietnamese communist.
“I look back at my term so far in office, and despite the blunders, the pitfalls, and the occasional politics, I’m proud of where we are now,” Phan told The Beat. “We have the light rail, we’re getting BART, we brought Apple and Amazon here when hundreds of cities were trying to court them and we have a diverse stock of housing to accommodate the expansive needs of a growing city.”
Phan’s announcement now pits him against fellow Councilmember Montano, in an already-crowded field for the Assembly District 25 seat. The district covers Fremont, Newark, Milpitas, San Jose, and Santa Clara.
He will be running against South Bay attorney and West Valley-Mission Community College District Trustee Anne Kepner, Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee Anna Song, Santa Clara Unified School District Trustee Jim Canova, Fremont Planning Commissioner Roman Reed, San Jose policy advisor Alex Lee, former Ohlone College trustee and lone Republican in the race Bob Brunton, and Pete Buttigieg campaign operative Natasha Gupta.
Phan and the rest of his fellow candidates will face their first test in the March 3, 2020 primary, at which time the field will be thinned out before the general election in November.
“Although I am certainly running to win [in the Assembly race], my heart will always be in Milpitas,” Phan said. “My passion to serve our residents only burns stronger after March, and by no means does it burn exclusively for one office or another.”