Looking back at the email, it seemed like a good omen.
It came in response to a message Hung Wei sent as part of her campaign for one of two seats on the Cupertino City Council. In the missive, the resident said that while she personally would abstain from voting, she were sure Wei would win.
Sure enough, Wei is projected to end up with the most votes out of five candidates running for two council seats. The runner-up, Planning Commissioner Kitty Moore, emerged as the second victor in a tight race against attorney J.R. Fruen, Mayor Steven Scharf and activist-gadfly Charlene Lee.
In the latest update from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters (ROV), with 92 percent of the ballots cast counted, Wei claims 11,039 votes (25.7 percent) to Moore’s 10,426, Fruen’s 9,167, Scharf’s 9,159 and Lee’s 3,095.
Unlike 2018, when her bid for a council seat fell 300 votes short, Wei was determined to come out on top in 2020. The former Fremont Union High School District trustee said she believes voters chose her because she stood firm on key issues facing the city.
“In 2018, there was a lot of negative campaigning, but I didn’t argue with it,” she said. “But this year I stood up against negative campaigning coming from our mayor (Scharf) and emphasized that we don’t need divisiveness and negativity in our town. My goal is to bring back civil discourse and respect to Cupertino.”
The City Council race pitted two anti or slow-growth members in Scharf and Moore against pro- or smart-growth candidates in Wei and Fruen. In the end, voters selected one from each side. As a result, the council retains a dominant anti or slow-growth faction, with Darcy Paul, John Willey, Liang Chao and Moore all in alignment with the anti-development Friends of Better Cupertino group.
Moore has been in lockstep with the Friends of Better Cupertino group, which opposes high-density housing development, reasoning it will strain city services and threaten neighborhood integrity and character.
Scharf and Moore backed a costly and unsuccessful lawsuit against the much ballyhooed Vallco Town Center Project, which will provide the city with 2,400 housing units (with 1,200 deemed affordable).
With the council seemingly in a constant quagmire of litigation and dysfunction in the last several years, Wei understands it’s more important than ever for council members to work together—irrespective of differing opinions—to move the city in the right direction.
“We’re at a crossroads,” she said. “The state has housing allocations and are passing laws to take away local control [if those allocations are not met].”
SB35 was passed in 2016 in an attempt to force reluctant cities to accept more housing. Cupertino, incidentally enough, has been warned by state officials that it could be sued for violating the law if more housing is not built.
“I plan on making rational, workable solutions for our city so we don’t have another SB35 project and aren’t involved in lawsuit after lawsuit.”
A community volunteer who has served on the board of many local nonprofits for 20-plus years, Wei said her diverse skill set can help the council collaborate on some of the most pressing issues facing the city.
Those issues include housing for seniors, teachers and working families, maintaining neighborhood integrity while meeting state-set housing-construction targets and reducing traffic congestion while supporting regulations that are environment-friendly.
“We all want what’s best for our community, so now it’s how do we reach that?” Wei said. “Even though I have differences with Better Cupertino, I believe we can collaborate to move this city forward. It’s not about personal animosity. Once elected, I will work with them, and hopefully they will work with me, too.”