Karina Dominguez Remains Vice Mayor as City Solicits Public Input on Shortening Term

Milpitas Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez will hold onto her title for now.

Last month, Mayor Rich Tran proposed cutting Dominguez’s stint as vice mayor from two years to one in an effort to promote “shared leadership” and give City Council members Anthony Phan and Bob Nuñez a shot as second-in-command. But the idea was nixed at Tuesday’s meeting when the council voted 4-1 to bring the issue back in January and examine the role of the mayor and vice mayor before making any changes.

Phan cast the dissenting vote.

Tran first suggested the idea at the council’s Nov. 19 meeting. Blindsided by the proposal, Dominguez took to Facebook later that evening, accusing Tran of sexism and bullying.


On Tuesday night, Dominguez’s supporters turned out to defend her, armed with signs, critiques of Tran and sharp words about the increasingly divisive nature of Milpitas politics. Rev. Jeff Moore, president of the San Jose-Silicon Valley NAACP, even likened Tran to President Donald Trump. Then Dominguez got her chance to speak, she made her message clear: that Milpitas needs “civility.”

“We have to communicate,” Dominguez said from the dais. “But it’s very hard to communicate with someone that’s silent … It is very hard to communicate when someone doesn’t even acknowledge your presence.”

She also rebuked Tran for being unable to look her in the eyes during the discussion. The mayor seemed visibly uncomfortable during the spiel as his eyes darted back and forth.

Tran addressed the previous evening’s discourse and Moore’s comparison of him to Trump in an interview the following afternoon.

“It’s really important in Milpitas and any local municipality to focus on the community,” he said. “For folks to bring in what’s spinning in the national media … into our little town is not something that makes sense.”

Tran also emphasized that the decision to re-examine the vice mayor’s term wasn’t his alone—it won support from the entire council. Even Dominguez voted to explore the idea when it initially came up in late November.

“I don’t have executive power, I don’t have veto power we’re all one vote,” he said. “The whole proposal was what I felt was a desire to look at shared leadership for the vice mayor position.”

Dominguez was unavailable for comment on Wednesday, but addressed Milpitas residents in a Facebook post the night before.

“Tonight was an empowerment of the people’s voice and an affirmation of the need for community input,” she wrote. “I appreciate my colleagues for addressing this issue in a serious manner, and putting together a request for more information and polling in order to make good decisions for Milpitas.”

https://www.facebook.com/vicemayorkarinadominguez/posts/981593602233798

Phan, who voted against the proposal after two hours of debate, told San Jose Inside that he felt the decision was rushed. “I was hearing a community survey, I was hearing thoughts about some sort of task force, I was hearing a primary for the mayoral election, but at the same time I was also hearing rotating the mayoral position,” he said. “It wasn’t definitive what was trying to be accomplished.”

On Tuesday night, Phan tired to make a point that “Vice Mayor” is simply an honorific and doesn’t necessarily define someone’s leadership abilities. But some members of the audience reacted negatively and started shouting at him, even though he had yet to express how he would vote on the issue.

“The title itself doesn’t change who Karina is, that she is a strong leader and that’s why all of them support her,” he said. “I think that there were so many emotions there that that point might have been missed. A lot of the things that I was saying, it was supposed to bring comfort to Karina no matter how the vote went.”

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

5 Comments

  1. >Phan, who voted against the proposal after two hours of debate, told San Jose Inside that he felt the decision was rushed. “I was hearing a community survey, I was hearing thoughts about some sort of task force, I was hearing a primary for the mayoral election, but at the same time I was also hearing rotating the mayoral position,” he said. “It wasn’t definitive what was trying to be accomplished.”

    So Anthony Phan voted no because he didn’t understand what he was voting on?

    • Looked up the City Council meeting and watched the footage, and it was very interesting. Especially seeing Tran avoid Dominguez’s eye contact, as this article points out. Rev. Moore’s passion, Tran’s woundedness.

      Phan’s comments were very different from the rest of the Council. He didn’t seem interested in questioning the City Manager or City Attorney, or even offering much argument one way or another, but instead just kind of spoke directly to the audience about how they had to accept this process no matter what. He drew a lot of equivalencies between “both sides,” suggesting it was impossible not to “hurt someone’s feelings” with the decision they made and that no matter what everyone had to “just accept the outcome,” in addition to the downplaying of removing Dominguez’ title that this article references.

      Phan’s comments were very rambling, but he at one point makes a reference to the fact that he had an “existential crisis” last year around this time, meaning the time he was publicly exposed for running a shadow mail campaign designed to smear Mayor Tran as a communist. The fact that he brings this up seems out of place and strange, but it seems like he was trying to relate to the emotion of the attendees? He mentions how everyone wanted to see him resign, but he didn’t. Then he goes on to say that he knew he had to stay on the Council so that he could apologize to the person he wronged (Tran) and work with him to make things better.

      My questions for Anthony Phan, after having followed his public career.

      Will you apologize to your former running mate Mark Tiernan for publicly attacking his reputation in order to curry favor with Councilmember Tam Nguyen?

      Will you apologize to former Planning Commissioner Bradley Misner for your unhinged tirade against him?

      Will you apologize to Milpitas resident Joseph Weinstein for your even more despicable attack against him, which included you literally bringing a prop in the form of a bag of popcorn to eat from the dais?

      Will you apologize to your former opponent Jennifer Strohfus, who you called “an embarrassment to the Asian community” on Twitter during your race for Council?

      • Can’t speak to the others but Anthony’s call out of Joseph Weinstein was too lenient if anything. Weinstein is a pathological liar, manipulative bully, and all around scumbag masquerading as a “concerned citizen”. Those who know him in Milpitas know what a cancer he is

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