EXPERIENCED LEADER ADVOCATING FOR CUPERTINO
- Expanding Library Hours. When I served on the Joint Powers Authority for our County Library system, I worked for expanded hours for the Cupertino Library. These hours were implemented at the beginning of this past summer, on June 1st. Fridays, the Library is now open until 9:00 p.m. when it used to close at 6:00 p.m., and on weekends, the Library now opens at 10:00 a.m. rather than noon. These expanded hours, as expected, have brought substantial added amounts of usage for this well-loved resource in our community.
- Bringing the Volunteer Fair back to Cupertino. In April, after inviting and coordinating with more than sixty local volunteer organizations, we held the Volunteer Fair in the Cupertino Civic Center. It was a remarkable activation of that space. We connected thousands of potential new volunteers with organizations. And the event provided many opportunities for members of organizations to interact with each other as well. Our community does not lack volunteering opportunities, but this event filled a very real need for continuity and connections.
- Helping residents. If you’ve ever written the City Council in Cupertino, and me in particular, you know that I am responsive and effective, and that I follow-up on residential concerns. Generally speaking, I make it a point to take meetings whenever anyone asks for one, and I’ll do the necessary work on issues without focusing primarily on verbal posturing and taking credit. I consistently and frequently help people when they reach out, and where there are differences of opinion and perspective, I work to foster a balanced and informed conversation so that our courses of action can be similarly complete.
- Setting the State of the City back to January. The State of the City had previously been pushed back by months after traditionally taking place on the last Wednesday in January. It was not easy to coordinate this event by moving it back earlier in the year. But it was necessary to avoid complacency in our approaches and delays in the issues that Cupertino needs to address. I also put a great deal of thought and work in setting forth substance in the address, and that has resulted in a commensurate level of action insofar as the topics we cover and the depth of our conversations.
- Listening to and acting upon resident concerns and preferences. Whether it has been our sentiments regarding amenities or amendments, I’ve worked hard to understand the sum balance of sentiments of the Cupertino constituency.
- Avoiding and remedying harmful political maneuvers. Gamesmanship in which we sacrifice the substance of issues and the value of important work for the sake of political gain needs to be addressed effectively. I use my intelligence and training not to posture but to turn difficult situations into opportunities. For example, for the sudden corporate head tax proposal earlier this year that initially lacked a single specific spending purpose, I advocated for and delivered a conversation that identified and described at least some particular projects and potential expenditures being described, as opposed to none at all, while putting us in a position to have an effective conversation in the specific realm of transit fixes in a manner designed to bring motivated stakeholders to the table to help us deliver innovative results. And this was not even the agenda item that brought about this special meeting.
The issue of eliminating certain City Commissions required a level-headed approach in order to address in an appropriate manner. And although I was not one of the people who created a special meeting for this agenda-item, I did do a lot of stressful work in order to ensure that our community members who sacrifice so much time volunteering to help the City only to be treated like this, understand that they are valued. I suggest that, as voters, we think about how best to remedy this kind of behavior on a longer-term basis. We need compassionate, intelligent, and informed elected officials to get this done.
My General Approach
When I ran in 2014, I ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility, and doing the hard work of communicating with, listening to, and acting upon the will of the electorate. As a community, we have benefited from these approaches. Although we are in the center of one of the world’s economic engines, and we as a jurisdiction host one of the largest companies in the world as its headquarters, we are not immune to the need to act in a fiscally responsible manner. Shortcuts accumulate, and outright corruption and fiscal dishonesty have no place in public governance when we deal with aspirational institutional values. I have worked hard to effectuate these aspirational values, and as a result we have a community where real conversations within the context of robust democratic discussions, and yes, disagreements, occur.
What is the best touchstone for measuring whether we are succeeding as a community? Is it to ask whether our government is being held accountable to standards of competence and honesty? Is it a matter of whether we attract people from everywhere who wish to be a part of our community? Economically, is it a matter of observing what has been done to spend our public dollars wisely so that the overall value to the community as reflected in its components have risen appreciably?
By any of these measures, we as a community are doing well. I have spent what social capital there is in the position of Council member this past term, and now Mayor this year, on making sure that our government is held accountable to standards that reflect the basic decency, honesty and commitment to making things really work that run so deeply within this community. I have also provided active support to ensuring that we have a competitive compensation structure, because in the realm of fiscal choices, investing in a fairly compensated and well-incentivized work force, once you’ve done the more difficult work of creating a civic work environment emphasizing fiscal accountability, is a higher priority than making monuments.
I prioritize function and fairness. Have you done a good job? That needs to be answered in the affirmative before the discussion can turn to entitlement. Systemically, we have made a commitment to democratic process that adheres to rule of law. I ran for Council in order to help ensure that we are conducting our processes in such a manner, as opposed to one grounded in hypocrisy and dishonesty. I am not results oriented. What offends me the most is what offends everyone the most. If we have embraced systemic ideals premised upon the completeness of our discussions, then anything that ignores facts and factors is something that runs antithetical to those ideals.
As a voter, the first question I ask myself when evaluating a candidate is, does this person have the sense, the ability to reason, and the overall understanding of the basic systemic purposes that we’re, as a society, trying to achieve? And what has concerned me the most under this set of metrics is when I look around and see very little happening that could be considered positive in that regard. We’ve set up a system where it’s too easy to game the system, and we end up electing a lot of posers. And so, that’s essentially why I originally ran for office, although it has taken me some time to articulate that sense of things as a frustration.
My approach to governance is similar to my approach to our employee pool. I’ll work with what we have, and it’s rewarding and worth the various travails to see things change for the better as time passes and the work imbues, just as it is perhaps a bit difficult and onerous at times to suffer the repercussions of the well-resourced who don’t meet the basic metrics of transparency, and who, instead, operate under outcome-oriented premises that willfully fail to take into account legitimate and quantifiable impacts because, basically, their bottom lines are affected. That is not a good way to plan, and it's really bad for our system. I'll continue to have an honest conversation.
I have also worked for a full and inclusive conversation, and we have achieved that in many respects. As a community I think that we can keep working on the basic understanding that the members of a community don’t always get everything that each wants, but that one of the basic premises of our system is that we preserve the rights of minorities by working in our process for more complete understandings, honest conversations, cooperative consensus, and, ultimately, compassion, because if we can do the former in a complete manner, we can deliver the latter.
At base, we need a foundation of treating each other well in order to achieve our systemic ideals of creating opportunity, as opposed to getting run over by opportunism. I encourage others in our community to volunteer and help others not just for the usual nice-sounding reasons, but also to preserve quality of life by expanding the benefits of the approach to other places. That, to me, is engagement.