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NewsCommunityMilpitas City Manager Steve McHarris among honorees at 2023 Unsung Hero Awards

Milpitas City Manager Steve McHarris among honorees at 2023 Unsung Hero Awards

On Friday, April 14, State Assemblymember Alex Lee’s office hosted the 2023 Unsung Hero Awards. 

Milpitas resident Rahim Jaffer (nominated by Shaheena Daredia) — an active volunteer with Ismaili CIVIC and the Aga Khan Development Network, which carries out food drives, teachings, and finding ways to assist seniors in the community — was among the evening’s honorees. Rahim also does remote work training professionals for the School of Professional and Continuing Education in Afghanistan.

Also honored was Milpitas’ Nonie McDonald (nominated by Vice Mayor Evelyn Chua). McDonald functions as a major fundraiser and volunteer for the Milpitas Library, having raised thousands of dollars for it.


Assemblymember Alex Lee addresses the room at the 2023 Unsung Hero Awards. Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Alex Lee’s office.


Patricia Montoya was also nominated for the award by Chua. Montoya founded “The Peaceful Poets of Milpitas” 16 years ago; the club brings together writers and lovers of poetry from all age groups. 

Notably, among the night’s honorees was also Milpitas City Manager Steve McHarris, who was nominated by Milpitas Councilmember Anthony Phan. The event literature said of Steve McHarris, “Under his leadership, the City of Milpitas has encouraged, promoted, and led on Transit-Oriented-Developments, pedestrian and bicycle trail connections, historic preservation, and affordable housing.”

McHarris has been in a clash with the City recently after the majority of the City Council voted not to renew his contract come June. 

McHarris expressed gratitude over being recognized for his contribution to Milpitas in a positive way. In an email exchange with The Beat, he wrote, “It’s been an honor to serve the City of Milpitas with the enthusiastic support of the residents, business community, and our incredible city staff all along the way. I am also extremely proud of the Milpitas brand and reputation we have built over the past 5 years. People say, ‘I love New York.’ I say, ‘I love Milpitas.’”

Watch the whole awards ceremony here.



Eric Shapiro
Eric Shapiro
Eric Shapiro is a writer & filmmaker. As a screenwriter, he’s won a Fade In Award and written numerous feature films in development by companies including WWE, Mandalay Sports Media, Game1, and Select Films. He is also the resident script doctor for Rebel Six Films (producers of A&E’s “Hoarders”). As a journalist, Eric’s won a California Journalism Award and is co-owner and editor of The Milpitas Beat, a Silicon Valley newspaper with tens of thousands of monthly readers that has won the Golden Quill Award as well as the John Swett Award for Media Excellence. As a filmmaker, Eric’s directed award-winning feature films that have premiered at the Fantasia Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, and Shriekfest, and been endorsed by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Eric’s apocalyptic novella “It’s Only Temporary” appears next to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” on Nightmare Magazine’s list of the 100 Best Horror Novels of All Time. He lives in Northern California with his wife, Rhoda, and their two sons.


  1. I was extremely pleased to see Milpitas City Manager; Steve Mc Harris was honored as an Unsung Hero of 2023 of Milpitas. It truly is a shame that our mayor, vice-mayor and a councilmember voted to not renew the contract for Mr. Mc Harris, when he did such a great job for the city during some very trying times. I am uncertain what caused the three council members to vote against renewing the contract and I, along with many of Milpitas’ residents, are waiting to hear what the justification was behind the non-contract renewal.

    • Well said! I too am waiting to hear the reason for their idiotic vote. Carmen, where is the transparent council you promised?

  2. Former Mayor Tran may be the puppet master behind the firing of City Manager Steve McHarris as retribution for opposing Tran on the Main Street auto wash. No one has confirmed nor denied that interpretation of the 3-2 split vote to fire McHarris. If true, it could fit a pattern.

    On October 22, 2020, The Milpitas Beat reported on a permanent supportive housing project in Milpitas to mount lawsuit over homeless housing project. By Oct. 26, the Beat reported “The Milpitas City Council will move forward with its suit and use a ‘specialized law firm,’ due to a conflict of interest within the city attorney’s office, according to City Attorney Chris Diaz.” But that conflict cost time.

    After an October 28 closed session meeting on potential litigation, Mayor Tran shared his disappointment that the “City Council did not choose a law firm to represent our case opposing the Project Homekey. The clock continues to tick and we are now significantly disadvantaged.” A week later, the Council voted 3-2 to stop plans for litigation, with Mayor Tran and Councilmember Montano voting to continue.

    Back in 2015, the Council hired Chris Diaz of Best Best and Krieger to serve as the City Attorney supported with contracted help from the law firm’s other attorneys when needed. On July 30, 2021, the Beat reported “Milpitas makes plans to hire new City Attorney”. According to Mayor Rich Tran, the Council had been discussing hiring a full-time city attorney in closed sessions for months – and that he initiated the discussion. One way to interpret these facts is to say that shortly after he lost a major legal battle, Tran started a campaign to “fire” the City Attorney.

    The Council has firing power over only two positions: city attorney and city manager. Thus, it seems like more than a coincidence that both were fired after “failing” Mayor Tran. What do others think?

  3. What I think is I know 3 council members who will not get my vote if they run for re-election. I am very disappointed in our mayor ignoring her promise to have transparency. To allow a skilled and dedicated city manager, like Mr. Steve Mc Harris go, is totally unacceptable. I am still waiting for the justification in not renewing the contract for Mr. Steve Mc Harris.

    I looked up the general duties of a city manager, which are “The city manager works with the mayor, the department heads and the town council to make sure the city is serving the best interests of the people who live there. A city manager is hired by the town council or by the mayor with the approval of the town council. Once hired, the city manager works to fulfill the executive and administrative duties of the municipal government.”

    It sure seems like that is what Steve Mc Harris did and for that the majority of our Milpitas City Council does not renew his contract???


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