Isaac Stringer, a newcomer to Milpitas politics, has launched his first political campaign: he’s running for City Council and has entered the arena filled with passion and ideas…
An Independent, Stringer said in an interview with The Beat, “I’ve had experiences with the current Council that distressed me…”
Before going into detail on those, he explained, “I’m a process guy. If you have good process, you make good decisions. Everyone gets to say their piece, and discussions are open and balanced, and decisions are made by vote.”
In Stringer’s observation, the current Council is too haphazard in terms of its communications and processes. He pointed to a meeting back in May, when Councilmember and current Mayoral candidate Karina Dominguez proposed a motion to explore what Council’s position should be on the Supreme Court’s then-forthcoming decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“There was then,” said Stringer, “discussion. I’ll be kind…” He added, “The discussion was not open and balanced…It was dominated by one person. That would be the Mayor.”
Stringer recalled, “The Mayor stated that he couldn’t make a decision until he spoke with his mother. That was one of the better lines this year.”
Afterward, Stringer observed an atmosphere of general disorientation. He shared, “The confusion in a lot of people’s minds was: Was there really a vote? In my mind, I didn’t hear a vote. A lot of other people said the same thing. It was a jumble. It wasn’t clean. And then they went on; they talked about something else…That was very troubling. I started to watch carefully after that…”
Not only did Isaac Stringer watch carefully, he filed a complaint with the City. When he never received a proper follow-up, he only got more motivated to stay involved. Meanwhile, at around the same time, Stringer was requesting from Mayor Rich Tran a written report on a Mayoral conference the Mayor and Vice Mayor Carmen Montano had attended in Reno, Nevada. The Mayor didn’t provide the report, but he wrote a comment on a Facebook thread citing Stringer’s postal address. Stringer saw the move as a clear example of doxxing.
Isaac Stringer is retired, and 76 years old. He is married with one stepchild and four grandchildren. After leaving the service, he studied Philosophy and Sociology at Pacific University and Forest Grove, Oregon. He then got involved in community organizing: “My first political campaign was Kennedy,” he shared, emphasizing how long he’s been engaged in politics. But he also added, referencing his mental acuity, “I’m a lot younger than I am.”
At one time, in Stockton, Stringer worked as the director of the Vietnamese Resettlement Program. He also completed a graduate program in Community Development and Public Service at Lone Mountain College in San Francisco (“…a combination of organizing, administration, grant writing, all of that.”)
After finishing his Master’s, he taught community organizing. He also worked for a Native American tribe, building a community center with them. But when the time of Ronald Reagan started, he saw the money for public programs drying up. Plus, he was turned off in general by politics: the finagling, the dirty money. Hey, he said to himself, that’s not me.
For years, then, he made leather sandals up in Oregon (“I made very good money doing that, by the way.”). He did travel, however, back and forth between Oregon and California, helping a friend with a tenant improvement business and later a circuit board manufacturing business. Along the way, Stringer found himself dealing with City departments: building divisions, Police and Fire. Said Stringer in his interview, “I understand regulations, I understand how that system works. So I bring with me a neutral understanding of governmental systems and how they should work.”
He’s particularly interested in ensuring more efficient Milpitas meetings. He seeks ample room to explore issues with experts, from homelessness to Roe v. Wade to more supportive services for teens to teen drug use and so on. After ample discussion has been had, Stringer hopes to work on shaping the City’s priorities and goals around the matters explored. “That is a major initiative, I think. We don’t have that now.”
“I’m also bringing a different point-of-view. Because to me, being on City Council is not an ego trip.” That in mind, he plans on using part of his Council stipend to hire a couple of high schoolers as interns: “They’re not gonna make a lot of money, but I wanna give ‘em something.”
“It is not about me,” Stringer wrote to The Beat in a follow-up email. “It’s about our whole community. It’s about being kind to one another and creating a world that we want to live in. It is about being able to disagree without being disagreeable. I love lively, informed debate where there is respect among all participants…I will guarantee, my interns will learn organizing techniques and find joy in moving the community forward.”
“Milpitas,” Isaac Stringer wrote in closing, “is a wonderful city, with many tremendous attributes. However, it can be so much more. I want to contribute to a vibrant community.”
Stringer is running against former Councilmember Garry Barbadillo, Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) Board Member Hon Lien, Milpitas Chamber of Commerce Board Member Juliette Gomez, former Planning Commissioner Demetress Morris, MUSD Board Member Michael Tsai, and Planning Commissioner Dipak Awasthi.
Election Day is on Tuesday, November 8.