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City CouncilThe Comeback Kid: Anthony Phan takes top spot in 2020 Milpitas City...

The Comeback Kid: Anthony Phan takes top spot in 2020 Milpitas City Council race

In a 2020 election season surprise, Milpitas City Councilmember Anthony “The Kid” Phan took the top spot in the council election, orchestrating a comeback that completely reversed the direction his political winds were sailing in just two years ago. 

Two years back, Phan got widely lambasted for distributing a mailer against Mayor Rich Tran that employed racist Vietnamese tropes in the course of trying to administer a blow that failed to land. Phan wasn’t running for office at the time, but had positioned himself as a de facto opponent of the mayor’s. Tran initially urged Phan to resign, vowing to orchestrate the councilmember’s recall if he didn’t.

But Phan remained in his seat, handing the mayor a literal olive branch while seeding every relationship he could with positivity, ease, and warmth–and sticking to the issues on the dais. Eventually, Tran dropped the recall idea. 

“People prefer the politics of optimism to the politics of fear,” Phan explained in an interview with The Milpitas Beat, repeating a vow to stay optimistic and never get back down in the dirt.

Regarding his recent victory, Phan said, “I’m honored that voters have put their trust and confidence in me to continue serving them.” Calling his work on the Milpitas City Council the honor of his lifetime, he added, “I cherish every moment and opportunity I have.”

As of now, Phan’s main priority is “Ensuring that our community is safe” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The same way the council worked on ensuring the widespread availability of COVID-19 testing, Phan hopes to help ensure the widespread availability of the COVID vaccine(s). Meanwhile, he breaks the city’s pandemic response down into three main areas of focus: the safety side, the medical side, and the economic side. Economy-wise, Phan hopes to help orchestrate more relief for the community while taking steps toward reinvigorating Milpitas’s economy on the whole.

On the safety side, Phan pointed to the Milpitas City Council’s face-covering ordinance, instituted early on in the pandemic: “It’s played a huge role in the number of cases from Milpitas. It’s relatively less than you see in other cities. I’m confident that the actions that we took made the community safer, and saved some lives here.”

“Wearing a mask,” Phan went on to state, “isn’t political. It shouldn’t be.”

In the meantime, Phan’s been working with a divided council when it comes to Project Homekey, the homeless housing project poised to soon launch at the Extended Stay America on Hillview Dr. He pointed out that in general, anything development-related tends to carry with it an air of controversy. But above all: “I’m hopeful that we retain our sense of decency and humanity.” 

In other words, Phan hopes that the city council doesn’t resume trying to sue Santa Clara County to obstruct its Project Homekey plans, and in the interview he urged incoming Councilmember Evelyn Chua to not sue to block housing opportunities from those in desperate need of them.

Phan described a future scenario in which the Homekey site opened, offering shelter, stability, and hope to formerly homeless residents, only to end up kicking them back out onto the street due to a lawsuit. “That,” said Phan, “is unconscionable to me.”

As good news rolls out regarding Phase 3 trial results for COVID-19 vaccines under development by Pfizer and Moderna, Phan sounds a note of hopefulness. He also greeted the news of Joe Biden’s forthcoming presidency with optimism: “It restored my faith in America, in the work that I do, in government, in humanity…I look forward to a federal government that will be competent and more responsive to its constituents.” 

In 2014, Phan was appointed by President Barack Obama, whom he refers to nostalgically as “the last great American president,” to serve in the Selective Service System, a federal agency, as a board member.

Phan’s new term will begin in advance of Biden’s, as of early December. Meanwhile, he is decompressing from his own tense, tough race. He shared that even when he expressed outward calm during the election cycle, “the reality was that I was desperately gasping for air…hanging onto my political life.” 

He went on to say, “I did everything I could and more. The last three days during the election, I was still working. I sent out around 4,000 text messages. On the day of the election, 45 minutes before the polls closed, I was still Ubering voters to the polls–younger voters who didn’t have means of transportation. And I’ve been there before. And the point is that I didn’t take any vote for granted.”

Moreover, Phan emphasized that his main focus was not on himself, but on the concerns of the constituents he aims to serve: “Everyday Americans, their life continues after the campaign. All these fears, they still stay there. Just because the campaign ends, doesn’t mean that you get a job right away, that this virus goes away…”

In addition, said Phan, his campaign wasn’t so much a traditional reelection campaign as it was a clear, concerted vow to continue doing what he’s already been doing: acting with conscience, attending to the issues. “I’m just doing my job,” Phan explained, “as a councilmember.”



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. This is the same scumbag that voted to try to stop the Homekey project before the election in order to gain votes and then flip flopped on his decision.

    • Nowadays, Journalists has to live on paid commerials. So many medias are asking my company to pay for embedded news to prompt the image. There is not difference between business and politics. They all are the targets of money sources. Good for everybody knowing these!

  2. This article reads like a paid commercial. At the rate in the last 15 days, articles singing praises of council member Anthony Phan are coming in the media, portraying him the messiah, it is clear that this is not Journalism it is Paid-ism. Anthony Phan is busy promoting himself and naïve Milpitas Residents and buying into his marketing campaigns without understanding that he is burning their income to warm his own house. Eric how much money did Anthony Phan pay you to sing his praises?

  3. This is an example of poor journalism. Instead of sharing facts for both sides, this journalist has shared their personal opinion and is glorifying someone who is constantly doing things that are going to be harmful to Milpitas and its residents. This article is so one sided, wonder if just to keep the paper going, they need to get money from people and are then forced to write in their favor. I know news needs to be sensational to get attention but there should be some journalist integrity too.. A true journalist would only state facts for both sides and let the reader form their own opinion. No wonder Milpitasbeat is infamous for publishing news that is not trustworthy.

    • It is customary & credible for news organizations to run stories profiling election winners. Everyone who regularly reads newspapers knows this. The Beat has been doing it since 2018. What’s not credible is posting anonymously & spouting conspiracy theories about us being paid to write stories. Who is paying you to post these comments?

      • Nobody is paying us to post these comments. And if you did not take any money either, then it is good to know that.

        We are fighting our own battle against corrupt and spineless council members. What life experience does a 25 year old have to make such long and vast impacting decisions that impact an entire city? You correctly said he is a KID and he needs some life lessons of his own before he can makes decisions that impact others lives. For starters he can attend Toastmasters and learn to speak without Umms.

        • We can be sure Anthony Phan’s parents do not live near Hillview. Does he live in Milpitas at all?

          “Homekey sounds good. Let’s do it!” – Anthony Phan. No long-term plans for execution, no consideration for the residents, no real-world insights, just some trumped-up belief or fake talk in humanity and idealism.

          Unfortunately a lot of Milpitas voters don’t even bother trying to know anything about the candidates. Look at how many votes Tiffany Vuong got. She just graduated college. The problem is we don’t have enough good candidates running for council, and the same names keep appearing. At this point if you want a free cushy job with benefits, just get a Vietnamese name and run for council. Or try carpetbagging like Bob Nunez, but at least he’s not some Kid that just graduated college, doesn’t own a home, and hasn’t held a real job. I’d have more respect for him if I knew he actually had to endure a daily Bay Area commute.

          Anthony Phan is just job hopping at this point. He only went back to city council after his failed attempt at the other job.

          umms is the one of the first things you learn not to do when working in any office, or at least after a few presentations.

  4. What about Phan’s sense of “decency and humanity” towards the real concerns of residents near Hillview who are concern about what the Homekey project has in store for their neighborhood and children, the ones he is also supposed to serve? I feel like he just speaks what he thinks people in favor of the Homekey projects want to hear, thus furthering his political career, and NOT doing his job for Milpitas.

    • I also agree with your opinion about Anthony Phan.
      Phan has high political ambitions but cannot afford his own; So Phan used dirty tricks to beat Richard Tran with slander on the leaflets. When Richard Tran asked Phan to resign for his unethical behavior and Phan tried to cling to the position of a member of the Milpitas city council!
      Another immoral thing of Phan is supporting abortion with taxpayers’ money.

      In short, Anthony Phan only serves the population with his lips and tongue, in fact Phan only seeks to swing with elected officials at the top to find support for his political future.

  5. This news is so misleading. It is more like to be a paid commercial. Anthony Phan cheat the voters. He votes “Yes” on pursuing litigation against the HomeKey project in October, But after election 11/4, he votes to rescind pursuing litigation against any parties involved with Project HomeKey Milpitas. He is just a politician that only think about his own benefits and connection with Santa Clara County.

    Anthony Phan also is the one who try to bring marijuana shops into Milpitas. He proposed the case every year despite that Milpitas Residents decision to Ban marijuana.

    Anthony Phan deleted all the comments that don’t agree with him on his Facebook, and block those people who provide different opinions. What kind of politician he is? A Cheater.

  6. Follow the money. Campaign contributions, etc.

    Not a Milpitas resident.

    Clearly a lobbyist and insider with a private agenda. Standard politician. Follow ACTIONS not words.

  7. Anthony Phan is a modern day two face liar. He got 4 more years to serve as Milpitas council member because most Vietnamese who voted for him did so because of his Vietnamese last name. They didnot know that he never represents them or ever has their interest at heart. Anthony Phan must be recalled. He lied to Milpitas residents when he voted in favor of a lawsuit against the HomeKey project. But, right after the election, he reversed his vote to stop our city’s lawsuit. A liar and a coward cannot be the one to represent Milpitas. Wake up everyone. Let’s recall him for all his lies and inability to represent Milpitas residents. He only represents himself and his special interest group.
    Recall Anthony Phan.

  8. I know people who voted for him simply because of his Vietnamese name without knowing anything about him. Same for Tiffany Vuong.

    I then told some of these relatives that he just graduated college then applied for city council the first time around. This time, he only went back to applying for the city council job after his failed run at a higher visibility and paying office failed.

    Stop voting for KIDS with no real world or work experience. That is not the fresh perspective you want. At least they should own a home in Milpitas first before people put them on the council. Or maybe fought in a war. Or maybe even work for a year full-time as a grocery store worker…which is kind of like fighting in a war nowadays.


    As a side note, I heard Rich Tran was really shady in High School and is still the same guy.

  9. How many articles did he pay you guys for. He’s done no good for this city. Maybe because he’s from San Jose and has no vested interest in this city, and supposedly ‘moved’ here after and only after getting elected the first time.

    Even the Wikipedia on him is not kind. Rude to city staff. Maybe cause you all voted for a 26 year old and this has been his only real job. Ineffective. Caused drama in the council and sent nasty mailers about Rich Tran. He failed in his state assembly bid and came back here. I’d like to know who voted for him and why.


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