This is part of a series of Q&As for Mayoral and City Council candidates for the November 2020 election. Questions were submitted by Milpitas residents.
What makes you a strong leader, and why do you want to serve on the City Council?
Voltaire Montemayor: I want to serve as a man of integrity. I am a civic, religious, and political leader. My qualifications, my self potentials, and capabilities are impeccable. I have experiences of leadership from the Cub Scouts up to the many organizations and associations in other countries and in the USA. I’ll humbly say that I am all around in knowledge, and in places. I know Milpitas very well. I am for everybody, and I’ve been helping everybody. I’ll extrapolate what I do for the Church and for other organizations to the City of Milpitas. I have a plan to make Milpitas thrive, especially in our recovery from the Novel COVID-19 pandemic. I have been always praying hard and working hard for this endeavor. I want to represent Milpitas like the other mayors for the City of Milpitas and for the people of Milpitas. I wish to present or recommend ideas to the Governor up to the President. I have ideas of prevention and containment of fire; for earthquakes, floods and water shortages and many more. I have a dream to make Milpitas a great place to live, and a well developed community. May God Bless Us All.
Rich Tran: The best leaders meet the needs of those they lead. I’m proud to have met the desires of Milpitas residents more than any other leader in Milpitas over the last four years. I’m at a point in my political experience where I just want to set the bar at a high level for whoever serves as the next Mayor of the “Land of Cornfields.”
City Council Candidates
Evelyn Chua: For me, a strong leader is owning to values that you stand for, owning to decisions that you’ve committed to, and owning to the consequences of the decisions you make. This, to me, is a strong leader. As a community leader and having lived in Milpitas for 32 years, my community service expands many years with numerous initiatives benefiting the residents. Currently, I serve as Planning Commissioner, and formerly served as Vice-Chair of the Emergency Preparedness and Community Advisory commissions. I recommended the Exchange Zone at the Milpitas Police’s parking lot to use as a place to safely exchange merchandise. Currently, it’s also being used for parental custody exchanges. I’m a member of the Task Force at Milpitas High School to address mental health by increasing engagement of parents, students, and the school. I’ve partnered with Milpitas High School students for neighborhood and parks clean-up. For many Christmas holidays, I volunteer at the annual Firefighters drive. I also created the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) workshop to address the shortage of affordable housing. I know and care about our city. I value each resident and strive to make Milpitas a strong and vibrant community. My decisions on the City Council will always be to improve the residents’ quality of life without self-serving interest. Serving on the Council is not a stepping stone for higher office. It’s truly a sincere desire to serve our city and do some good.
Julian Jose Nool Hilario Jr.: My whole life has been centered on helping and making a difference in the lives of others…Whether it be feeding the homeless and low income; singing, dancing, and acting in the community; holding leader positions to represent my constituents in middle school to college; chairing a department and hospital-wide shared governance councils to improving care and safety to patients at a #1 Hospital in California; or volunteering as a Nurse to provide care outside the hospital in vulnerable communities or for spectators and athletes at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. These fundamental leadership skills and building rapport with people of all backgrounds all started here in this city, Milpitas. The city that shaped me and instilled values of integrity, empathy, and respect. Now more than ever, I believe it is vital for Milpitas to elect a council member who will listen to and represent our community’s diverse voices in ways that will help bring us together. I am aware of what is going on within the city and wanted to confirm to you that I will hit the floor running and build a healthy working relationship with our Mayor, councilmembers, staff members at the city hall, and even you, Milpitians, so that we can tackle the issues as a team. Milpitas is my home; it is your home; together this is our home. It is our time to work together as a unified city to reignite the spirit of Milpitas.
Robert Marini: I noticed the City ignores the public and is not open or transparent in dealing with the public. The City lost $90,000 in a lawsuit with the First Amendment Coalition due to not being transparent. The City violated proposition 218 by not disclosing $55 million in bonds and $2.7 million taken out of the water fund and put into the general fund in the written notice sent to the public. The City prevented the public from voting on a water utility petition, which is another violation of election law. It took a lot of work from me and others to get the required number of signatures to qualify for the ballot. I’m running for office because the current and past council members ignore the public and skip proposition 218 section 6 laws that protects the public from being overcharged. I have already served the public by getting signatures for a petition and also served on the Water Rate Task Force. If elected, I will protect the residents from being overcharged for service and give the public a voice in how the city is run.
Demetress Morris: A strong leader has a straightforward vision, is bold, has honor, is humble, goal oriented, and has a unique focus. The most important point is a strong leader helps other team members reach their goals and aren’t fearful of others; in other words, they can lead or follow. We servant leaders like myself are here to inspire and empower other team members to accomplish their mission. As a servant leader, I am the first to get my hands dirty. I practice the following actions of servant leadership: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of the team, and building community. I want to sit on the Council because my education of a B.S in Applied Management and Master’s in leadership are all skills and talents that I can use to benefit my community in these trying times.
Bob Nuñez: I am running for re-election to the Milpitas City Council. Given the issues we are facing today — COVID-19, Budget Short-Fall, downturn in the economy — the City of MIlpitas needs someone with experience dealing with these kinds of issues. Public Safety, controlled growth and a strong partnership with the Milpitas Unified School District were some of my highest priorities during my first term as councilmember. My ability to forge partnerships with individuals, public agencies, and community-based organizations has allowed me to deliver on those priorities.The City of Milpitas and MUSD have both benefitted from my presence on the Council. The new funding and program opportunities have benefited all residents. A strong leader is someone that knows how to lead when called upon and to find compromise and solutions that are in the best interest of Milpitas. I am that leader.
Anthony Phan: In these trying times, we need leaders to step up and offer solutions over rhetoric. It’s easy to toss around ideas to win votes, but the fact of the matter is we have already implemented most of these elements into our policies. I have worked tirelessly these past four years to deliver results for Milpitas, and together we’ve gotten so much work done. We raised the minimum wage, built more affordable housing, expanded public transportation, and took urgent action on climate change. Under my leadership we’ve created hundreds of good-paying, local jobs. And although we’ve been hard hit by this pandemic, I took immediate action to keep our community safe and provided relief and assistance for those struggling to survive. We were the first in the County to mandate masks and we established one of the first free COVID-19 testing programs. I also led successful efforts to expand our Renter’s Relief program to support struggling tenants and keep them housed, as well as allocating hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct financial assistance with loans and grants to help our small businesses. I’ve been humbled with humility and have worked immensely to build bridges and strengthen relationships with all of my colleagues, and this is something that simply cannot be accomplished overnight. You may disagree on me issues occasionally, but know that I have always voted my conscience and I have worked hard to take immediate action on issues that matter the most during times of crises, actions which saved lives and made Milpitas safer and stronger.
Suraj Viswanathan: Leadership is key, but so is a positive vision for the future and an action-oriented agenda. I came to America just sixteen years ago with but $100 in my pocket and worked my way up to owning several businesses, negotiating million-dollar contracts, and introducing Cricket to our local schools. I take the initiative, I take the lead. Milpitas needs new leaders who are unattached to the old, tired backroom, pay to play politics of the past. I represent a new generation of leadership willing to work for change that improves the lives of all our residents.
Tiffany Vuong: I grew up in Milpitas. I went to elementary, middle, and high school here. I’m running because this is my home but it has become far too expensive to live here, and more people are doubling up or worse, just to survive. I grew up with my immediate family sometimes squished into one room and will bring my lived experiences into office to advocate for families like mine. As a college student, I ran a tutoring program for local elementary school students, trying to uplift low-income immigrant families and intervene in the school-to-prison pipeline. When I came back to Milpitas two years ago after graduating from a University of California, I got involved in local get out the vote efforts and community organizing. I have been a renters’ rights advocate in Milpitas for about a year and a half where I have taken the initiative to reach out to our residents and will continue to fight for us as your councilmember. I want to serve the people of Milpitas because our city can become an inclusive, environmentally friendly place to live with a high quality of life for everyone. I am representing families like mine who have or are struggling economically. I am committed to making our future better than the present. I want to build the power of everyday people in Milpitas and will use my position as councilmember to do so.