I respect your time and intelligence. Rather than produce an overwhelming list of many names, which the campaign can do if you’d like (just email for it), I’d like to set forth some meaningful descriptions of relationships with a dozen or so people with whom I’ve worked over the years in the context of community, followed by three institutional endorsements along with descriptions that will give you a sense of my approach to balancing and resolving the various and sometimes competing needs of our community. So that you can form a more complete impression of the community and my involvement in it, here are the selections together with a brief description of what the partnership means, and has meant to my community service, over the years:
First Vice President / Credit Manager
First Lady of Cupertino*
I’m going generally in alphabetical order for the individual endorsements, by first name, with one exception. This is it. Sharon is my wife. We have been married for more than eight years now. After I was elected in 2014, it was a rather strenuous time. Council members in Cupertino make essentially next to nothing when you consider the hours put into the role. With health benefits, you can see why the virtually-nothing pay tends to attract historically the well-to-do or the retired, of which I am neither. But we got through it, and we also have two young children. By the way, Sharon works as well, as a corporate commercial banker, and is doing quite well in career. The health coverage provided by the City is not an incentive to our family. Well, I am happy to be able to state in all honesty and candor that Sharon Lee endorses my re-election.
Former De Anza College President*
Brian recently retired as President of De Anza College. While there, President Murphy oversaw a transformation in how De Anza approached the community, and it was truly the culmination of an intellectual life and career thinking about how to achieve widespread equity throughout society. We have a gem of a community college, as a result, within our borders, that draws from throughout the region and internationally from a pool of people seeking educational opportunities while balancing out the realities of an ever competitive environment and the needs of day-to-day life. Brian and I made good inroads into re-establishing strong ties and a relationship between the City of Cupertino and De Anza College. The work continues, and I hope that De Anza College stays engaged with us. From environmental resources to mutual interests in community and educational use of facilities, for instance, there are a number of areas where everyone can benefit from renewed and improved relations. I am looking forward to the prospect of continuing to renew our institutional relationship for the benefit of Cupertino and De Anza College, and the many people served by our residents and institutions.
President - Cupertino Historical Society*
Don is a pioneer, and one of the most sincere, genuine, and hard-working people you will ever meet. I first met Don in 2009 when he and I were both running for public office. I had set up my campaign headquarters in one of the buildings across Torre Avenue from City Hall, and Don came in one day asking for some advice on what to say in one of the candidates’ forums in which he was about to participate. We spent some time talking about his position on issues and some of his perspectives on what key priorities would be for him. I have many fond memories from my run for office in 2009, and I would have to say that this could be the most meaningful. Our system of governance does work, and it can work in some basic and universal ways, and looking back on this conversation that I had with Don, I feel that it is precisely conversations like this one, where people are discussing perspectives, that foster better governance, of, by, and for people. In this sense, we’re not looking at a model of governance designed to roll over other systems, but one trying to effectuate benefits of interaction and participation. I’m extremely pleased and honored to call Don a long-time friend and partner in the community. He is currently the President of the Cupertino Historical Society.
Commissioner, Cupertino Bike and Pedestrian Commission*
Gerhard is a member of Cupertino’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission. As
someone with significant oversight over a critical function at one of our local technology companies, Gerhard has been a respected and important voice in our community advocating for decision making that reflects the balance of voter sentiment. He and I have worked together to consider various bike-trail proposals. I have enjoyed watching Gerhard work in this capacity for the betterment of our whole community.
Commissioner, Cupertino Fine Arts Commission*
At an event last year, Janki and I discussed opportunities for bringing forth more art-show events to Cupertino. When I started working on the plans for bringing the Volunteer Fair back to Cupertino, I knew that this would be a good synergy. As a member of the Fine Arts Commission in Cupertino, Janki is dedicated on a volunteer basis to bringing forth art to our community so that we can activate not just awareness within our community members, but we can find ways of doing this by activating our spaces. Our utility boxes around the community, for example, were covered with artwork from our students as the result of activity and cooperation between the activities of membership of our Fine Arts Commission and our City. While these types of actions don’t require a significant economic expenditure, they certainly enhance our aesthetic and cultural environment significantly. And what, after all, when you elevate the level of it, does not come down to the creative endeavor of art? The Art Show at the Volunteer Fair ended up being, like the Fair itself, a smashing success. Like art around the community, it enhanced and complemented the experience greatly.
State Senator, California*
Senator Beall has served the region for decades. A widely respected figure, he has an uncommon balance of charisma and substantive effectiveness. On the issue of transportation, for instance, some years ago, Jim and I had a conversation about how the various actions that we can take on the practical level can add up to having real and significant impacts on what sometimes seem like intractable problems immune to magic-pill fixes. This kind of approach indicates to me that service in many contexts ends up being a matter of doing a great deal of the unrecognized background work. At the same time, Senator Beall has worked on very significant fixes in the context of major projects. As Chair of the Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee, Senator Beall set forth legislation designed to ensure that our state infrastructure remains sound while placing incentives in a thoughtful manner from a public-policy based perspective. There’s even more democracy happening on our State level, and I both wish Senator Beall well in the efforts to clean up our environment on all levels and keep our infrastructure sound, and I stand with his thoughtful and experienced approach.
Board Member, El Camino Hospital*
Julia is a wonderful human being and one of the first graduates of Cupertino High School. Following graduation, in addition to a number of other activities, Julia was a Councilmember in Sunnyvale and also served as Mayor of Sunnyvale. She is currently on the publicly-elected Board of Directors of El Camino Hospital. I first met Julia at an event held by Democratic Activists for Women Now (DAWN) a number of years ago. I look to her as a sounding board for community-based issues and as a steady and fair temperament for considering challenging issues.
Board Member, Cupertino Union School District*
Kristen and I were elected in 2014. As a member of the Cupertino Union School District Board, Kristen has done a great deal of work to help ensure that the future for our children, starting with their educational foundations, is in the hands of committed people who care about our kids, understand and empathize with all aspects of our community, and who know what they are doing. I can’t stress how important all of these factors are in ensuring that we bring forth a generation that is both committed to our common well-being and well-adjusted as individuals. I know that it has been a tremendous challenge and have discussed a number of contentious issues with Kristen over the term. I’m grateful for her work and sacrifices for the community.
Founder of Cupertino Diwali Festival*
Mahesh and I ran for Cupertino City Council in 2009. That’s how Mahesh and I met. I deeply respect Mahesh. He is a really good person, passionate and honest about his viewpoints, and someone who does the necessary work we need to get things done. We need people like Mahesh so very much more than we need figureheads. For the Diwali Festival, Mahesh worked over the years to realize his vision of a cultural festival with roots within the South Asian community. He is tireless in making and maintaining the connections necessary to realize the aims of widespread interconnections and harmony. I have seen him do so much actual work with a continually positive disposition, and I deeply admire it. I have also sat on the Chamber of Commerce Board with Mahesh. We both worked very hard to help our community out of the last recession. I’ve been with Mahesh on issues, and I’m pretty sure we’ve been on opposing sides of some as well. What I do very clearly recall is that Mahesh is deeply principled. Many in the community think of Chamber as some kind of monolith, but in fact it’s like any other organization comprised of relative monoliths and other interests. Internal disagreements and interpersonal and competitive jockeying are present, but eventually you end up finding, if you stand on coherent principles, like-minded people of integrity with whom you don’t necessarily share every viewpoint and perspective, but with whom you can work to get lasting things done because they are the type of people who earn your respect. I respect Mahesh.
Board Member, Cupertino-Bhubaneswar Sister City Initiative*
Let’s call Mahesh Pakala, for the sake of this exercise, Mr. Pakala, to avoid confusion with Mahesh Nihalani. Bhubaneswar, located in the state of Orissa in India, is our fourth and most recent Sister City to the City of Cupertino. Mr. Pakala, as a member of our Sister City committee maintaining and nurturing the relationship with Bhubaneswar works to bring this relationship forward to the point where we are fostering the interconnections on a regular basis. Generally, our Sister Cities, as a baseline, maintain these connections by sending student and adult delegations to each other on a regular basis. This is an incredibly involved and time-consuming task. For our student delegations there is ideally a process for selection, and the task of finding families both to send students and to host students here involves year-around outreach and planning. The process is constantly being renewed and revived in some fundamental ways as participants change each time, and activities also change on a regular basis as well. There is also turnover in committee members which can tend to ebb and flow activity levels. However, Mr. Pakala has been consistent and present since the formation of this Sister-City relationship. This past Spring, I traveled to Bhubaneswar on a Mayoral delegation to visit my counterparts in each of our Sister Cities in an effort to re-affirm each of these relationships and to show support from the office and our City. I had the privilege of seeing Mr. Pakala in action, coordinating a number of meetings with government officials on both the city and county levels in Bhubaneswar, which serves as both the county and state seats of government as well. Our relationships around the world remain robust because of the work of community members like Mr. Pakala.
Chair and Commissioner, Cupertino Parks and Recreation Commission*
Neesha and I met after she graduated from Georgetown and moved back to the area for work. We have one of the finest community college systems in the country in Cupertino, and Neesha, who was born and raised in Cupertino, attended De Anza College within this system before attending Georgetown. I remember we spoke about how to get more involved in the community. We ended up being brief colleagues on the Parks and Recreation Commission before I was elected to the City Council later that same year in 2014. Parks and Recreation is a department with a number of critical functions in our community, and understandably sometimes the issues can be the source of strong opinions along the entirety of the spectrum for a given issue. At the same time, the projects can be far-ranging as well. As the current Chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, Neesha is ushering through the completion of our City’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which addresses every park-related space in Cupertino. Between balancing the rigors of employment in San Francisco and the responsibilities of leading the Commission, Neesha is doing a tremendous job in civic and professional life, and I look back at our initial conversation those years ago and get a real sense of community and continuity.
Board Member, Friends of the Cupertino Library*
Sharon Blaine was a former colleague on the Board of Directors of the Cupertino Historical Society where we worked to help preserve and reflect Cupertino’s fascinating and multi-layered history through curation of material and coordination of community-based activities. I miss my colleagues on CHS and our meetings. They’re a great group of people and if you’re not a member, please consider joining as involvement is universally welcomed, and with that as a subtext and backdrop, how can one truly have grievances? If you’re looking for fabric that makes us great, look to this. Don’t look at superficial manifestations, look at underlying setups. Do you have the ability to get involved? Do you get involved? If the answers are yes and no, respectively, then don’t complain about symptoms. Sorry for the aside. But it does in fact relate to Sharon’s involvements in the community, which I relatively recently discovered run a fairly broad scope of activities. I took my family for the first time to one of Cupertino’s books sales held at Community Hall and found out that Sharon is also a Board Member of the Friends of the Cupertino Library, which coordinates these books sales on a quarterly basis. What an incredible community resource. I’m grateful to our community and to people like Sharon for being so genuine and effective.
The Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is a nationally-known organization with roots right here in the Bay Area and over a century of history advocating for environmental preservation and sustainable practices. I have worked this past term to earn the endorsement of this organization, whose members continue to take a thoughtful and substantive approach to issues. For example, from the dais, during our discussion of Cupertino’s Climate Action Plan, I brought forth the motion that created Cupertino’s Sustainability Commission. This was in the middle of the term. Since then, multiple full seasons have passed and it becomes clearer and clearer each year that the effects of climate change are real, and they are getting more severe. From Cupertino’s perspective, our approach has always been one that is analytical, cautious, and practical. I know that we can work with our stakeholders to ensure that our outputs are as minimal as possible, that we take care to ensure successful transitions for all involved, and that when we take on large-scale projects such as mass transit, we do so in a manner that ensures both completeness of conversation and effectiveness of implementation. This is an ongoing and critically important dialog. Our preservation of open spaces, our thoughtful and sustainable development, and our remedying of environmental impacts will all take place through the continued engagement of organizations like the Sierra Club.
South Bay Labor Council
Issues affecting the ever-increasing missing middle class of our area and our country are amplifying. It is crucially important that we examine our policies and do what we are able to do in order to preserve and enhance the well-being of the members of our community and society who deliver the work needed to get things done. Organized labor, from what I have observed, is a critically important mechanism for ensuring that exploitation and over-reaches don’t occur. It is a constant and ongoing balance, and one that requires, similar to environmental stewardship, ongoing and thoughtful dialog over the details affecting the issues in order for benefits to be gained and feasibility to be maintained. One example here is in the push for a higher minimum wage. From interactions with Labor members, I know that a living wage, which is distinct from a minimum wage, in this area is between twenty-two and twenty-three dollars an hour. We pushed to increase the minimum wage from about ten dollars an hour to fifteen dollars an hour. Another side of this conversation involves the business community. I outreached to members of our business community to obtain feedback, and understandably, there were concerns regarding whether this would be economically sustainable. In the end, we approved a step-wise structure that results in a fifteen-dollar an hour minimum wage by the beginning of next year, 2019. Conversations for issues such as wages and benefits need dedicated people willing to do the work of sitting down with the numbers and sitting down with the stakeholders.
Silicon Valley Association of Realtors
SILVAR is an organization based out of Cupertino representing realtors conducting the transactions which enable home ownership in our area. Over the years, I have learned from interacting with the members of SILVAR that when recessions occur, in Cupertino, every fifty-thousand dollars of average home value lost translates to a billion dollars of collective value. It has been interactions like these from committed members of the community applying analytical metrics that have given me a lot of education and thoughtful moments over the years. When the last recession hit, one of the factors I kept in mind when working to lay the groundwork for a solid local recovery is that it is very important to keep in mind what we can be doing to promote the possibilities for home ownership. If we are approving new developments, from a public-policy perspective, I would prioritize expanding the economic opportunities for home ownership over uniformity of ownership in the interests of future re-development. I respect all aspects of the community, and I acknowledge that our rental market is also extremely important to have in order, for example, to provide more flexibility in the market. For SILVAR, I list their endorsement here as an indication that our work together over the years has resulted in good discussions which are the foundation for policies that are thoroughly vetted and result in the best outcomes for the community.
* For identification purposes only; does not constitute institutional support