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Sunday, May 19, 2024
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OpinionRich Tran is back: Here's what it means for Milpitas' 2024 mayoral...

Rich Tran is back: Here’s what it means for Milpitas’ 2024 mayoral election

And just like that, the whole game has changed. 

Richard Q. Tran, the 3-term 17th Mayor of Milpitas, has revealed his intention to become #19, as well. In doing so, he would become an opponent of current Mayor Carmen Montano, whom he fervently endorsed in her run last year. 

Tran’s a wild animal. He knocks on doors. He runs to win. It doesn’t matter that his 3rd term was characterized by the citizens of Milpitas constantly piling on him on his Facebook page. It doesn’t matter that he has a reputation for clashing with his colleagues, so much so that when the Merc endorsed him before his 3rd term, they wrote, “We are disappointed that Tran has been at the center of the council’s ongoing infighting. He has bickered with Councilwoman Karina Dominguez and led the effort in January to remove her as vice mayor over differences on affordable housing and his opposition to her wanting to change the name of Dixon Landing Road to Barack Obama Boulevard. Whatever his differences with his colleagues, Tran needs to find more constructive ways to work them out.” 

So much so that he once said to me that he liked promoting a “competitive environment” on the Milpitas City Council, so that the councilmembers were encouraged to try their hardest.

Imagine Steve Kerr instilling a competitive environment on The Golden State Warriors, only instead of competing against their opponents, they went out there every night and tried to defeat each other. 

But I digress. 

Tran’s hard to beat, and his opponents know it. The same way every superhero’s strength and weakness tend to be the same exact trait (for Batman, for example, it’s his dark and fractured psyche), Tran’s strength-and-weakness is his stubbornness. He knows what he wants. He never loses a debate (at least not in his mind). He’s dialed into a proud and prominent component of the Milpitas populace, a sort of old school, down home, football-loving, backyard-barbecuing sect that appreciates working class values and weekend family gatherings. Tran’s talking directly to them with his handy campaign slogan, which I have little doubt he’ll break out again this time: “Milpitas Families First.”

This transcends politics or ideology. Tran’s with the people. He’s a back-patter, a laugher, a compliment-giver. He knows how to make you feel good after you’ve seen him. There’ve been times over the years when I’ve been outright incensed with him, only to run into him somewhere and walk away thinking, “Wow, what a swell guy…

He’s beatable, though, if his opponents are willing to fight as hard and deep as he is. Let’s look at how a few of his prospective competitors might fare in ‘24…

MAYOR CARMEN MONTANO 

Montano appeals to the same pool of voters as Tran, which is why they’ve been politically aligned and even out on the campaign trail together before Tran unveiled his intention of unseating her. She also works really hard when campaigning, knocking on every door and engaging with every constituent. Her name recognition and political longevity reach back further into Milpitas history than those of anyone else mentioned in this article, and she’s adopted an impassioned, optimistic leadership style that generally steers clear of scandal. Head to head, she and Tran could see a very tight race, the same way 2022’s pair of progressive candidates, Anthony Phan and Karina Dominguez, canceled each other out when the votes were tallied. Montano is uniquely suited to beat Tran at his own game, so if she pounds the pavement and stays consistent, the raw numbers could add up in her favor. Now speaking of…

COUNCILMEMBER ANTHONY PHAN

I like Anthony Phan. I find him to be refreshing, and a potential representative of the Milpitas I want (current, relevant, excited) rather than the Milpitas we have (traditional, underestimated, subdued). I think Milpitas would be rewarded by giving Anthony Phan a shot at the mayor’s seat. He’s a markedly contemporary option — analytical, sincere, and even wonkish in his mindset. I also enjoy his natural passion and charisma, and have a tough time looking away from his awesome hair (enjoy it while it lasts, kid; the ride goes quick…). To beat Tran, Phan has to better acclimate voters to his charms and kindness. He might be too cool for some people. To many, despite having served for years as a councilmember, Phan remains something of an enigma. He took his last loss hard, having come in 2nd, but if he regroups and shows the voters that he’s a well-intentioned and trustworthy player, he’ll have a clear, legitimate shot. He just has to get in front of as many people, face-to-face, as possible. And he has to hope not to split the vote with…

FORMER COUNCILMEMBER KARINA DOMINGUEZ

Dominguez and Tran famously and repeatedly clashed while on the council together, to the point where, had we wanted to, The Milpitas Beat could have started copy-and-pasting our existing articles about their fights each time we had to cover a new one. Their dichotomy was very much a microcosm of the Democratic Party during the Trump years, with Dominguez representing far-left social justice activism and Tran representing moderate classical liberalism (while sometimes acting like Trump himself on social media). Dominguez walked hard for her seat; I recall my wife saying she had seen her out on the sidewalk just a day or two before she won her council race, still out walking near the tail end of a long, bruising campaign. To beat Tran, Dominguez would be wise to steer clear of reliving their old battles and critiquing him — something that he’s prone to ignoring (note: he never attacks his opponents personally) and that the public is divided on in any case. But by offering a clear alternative vision for Milpitas, Dominguez could restore her political standing and gain a pathway.

**

More than anything, what sells on the campaign trail in Milpitas is straight-up connectivity with the city’s residents. Everybody named above has connected; everybody above has won some very tough elections.

But Rich Tran’s shown an ability to connect with force. Being Mayor of Milpitas means the world to him. He acts like he’s in The Olympics when he runs. You can mock him for that, or you can laud him.

But to beat him, one has to reach deep down inside and find the will to somehow run faster. 

 

 

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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.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Tran always had to fight the leftest obstructionists Phan and Dominguez which really prevented him from getting more done for us residents. Dominguez lost her seat because of, well, her performance and lack of self discipline in the City Council meetings. Phan has his own related legal issues. Montano has been able to work to progress with the Counsel since then. Tran is a force to be dealt with because wants to get things done and he does. His aggressiveness was labelled, “bully, authoritarian”, etc. by professional victims, but he stood up to the personal attacks to work for us. He got the job done in spite of his detractors and the socialistic reporting and opinions published in the Milpitas post. With Tran and Montano working together, and half the disrupters gone, they should really be able make great strides on addressing the concerns of Milpitians.

    • Donald Mercado, what exactly did Rich Tran get done and what will he accomplish if re-elected? His main talent seems to be posting on Facebook where he eats lunch and dinner. He does not have a vision for Milpitas or any goals he works for. How would such a self-centered egomaniac be of any value to the people of Milpitas? When he was mayor in the past I asked his supporters what he accomplished and they could not come up with anything! Please list anything he actually did to make Milpitas a better place.

      • Tran worked to get the homeless hotel on Sango Ct. for one and if it weren’t for the obstructionists he would have accomplished a lot more. BTW, those without the brain power to debate a point have to resort to personal attacks.

        • Rich Tran did everything he could to stop the homeless hotel and he never did anything to help solve the homeless problem. He did go on a prayer walk with his church group to watch the homeless. All he could do for the homeless was offer thoughts and prayers, in other words, he did nothing. Rich Tran has no brain power and constantly makes personal attacks against other city officials he should be working with.

          • He didn’t like the one forced on us at Hillview Ct. and as well he should.
            Sango was a compromise. He also worked against that bill that discriminated against Asians and other cultures that value education in college admissions. That was purely a systemic rac
            ism bill. And again, personal attacks are the resort of……..

      • Tran fought against the Hillview Ct. facility being imposed on us as well he should have. Sango was a compromise (at least he has the ability to compromise). He also fought against the bill that would have discriminated against Asians and other cultures that value education. That was a PURELY systemic racism bill. And again. those who have to resort to personal attacks…..

  2. When all is said and done, all of the above have spent way more time squabbling like children, than getting things done in Milpitas. I’ve lived here 20 years. I have seen all our neighboring cities grow and improve year after year. Milpitas has not improved one bit in that 20 years. The only thing the Milpitas government has done consistently, is rubber stamping every ugly apartment complexes that come across their desks. I don’t even mind the ugly. Can you at least make them have legible, grammatically correct names? What on earth is “Turing the Fields”?

  3. In May, City Manager Steve McHarris filed a claim against the city alleging mistreatment by Carmen Montano and Rich Tran. That claim also included a bribery transaction between outgoing Mayor Tran and now-Mayor Montano.
    .
    Here is the definition of bribery: The act or practice of giving or taking a bribe, or of influencing or being influenced by a bribe or bribes; especially, the act of paying or receiving, or of agreeing to pay or receive, a reward other than legal compensation for the exercise of official or delegated power irrespective of the dictates of duty, or for a false judgment or testimony, or for the performance of that which is known to be illegal or unjust.
    .
    Key to the complaint is a repeated assertion that former Mayor Rich Tran told City Council/Mayoral candidates that if they wanted him to endorse them in the 2022 election, they would need to remove Steve McHarris from his job as a first order of business if elected. McHarris claims that both Mayor Montano and Councilmember Garry Barbadillo, who were both heavily endorsed by Tran during election season, were subject to this arrangement. It appears that all parties to the bribery kept up their end of the deal.
    .
    Find the complaint at https://meansfordemocracy.org/City-Manager-Steve-McHarris.pdf

    • “City Manager Steve McHarris filed a claim…” “repeated assertion” “McHarris claims” Anyone can claim anything without proof. You can indite a ham sandwich claiming it shot Kennedy. Has it ever been proven? “they all appear to be guilty of bribery” What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

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