Politically informed residents of Cupertino might already be familiar with 35-year-old Darcy Paul, attorney and one of the directors of the Chamber of Commerce. After moving to Cupertino to continue a career in patent litigation, the Harvard Law School graduate decided to pursue a career as a member of City Council in 2009. Here, Paul answers our questions about life as a City Council member and what it’s like to work for the citizens of Cupertino.
1. What does being a member of the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce entail? What are some of the ways in which you interact with the community?
What the Chambers of Commerce usually do for a community is provide an organization through which the businesses of the community can advocate for their interests and put on a number of events throughout the year that bring the community closer together. The sponsors a number of events every month...we sponsor mixers for the business community, two or three times a year we put on a “” event…we want to make sure businesses get involved with the community as much as possible.
2. What is your favorite project you’ve taken on as a Chamber of Commerce member?
If I really had to pick a specific Chamber-related activity, I would generally say the Legislative Action Council, because there’s a lot of work that goes in on a regular basis. I’m really proud of the way we handled the transient occupancy tax…I think we brought to light a lot of sensible points, and part of what we do in the community as a Chamber is to engage in these types of discussions…I don’t think there are losers in a game where you have salient points and you bring them to the forefront and you make them in an honest manner.
3. As an attorney?
I had a real change in philosophy in the last year or two that I worked as a patent litigator—I took on a pro bono project that had to do with domestic violence. An individual had brought in a bride from South America, and he was being very abusive. Part of the provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) includes a confidentiality agreement for the spouse that were being challenged by the person who was being accused, and I took on this woman’s case, and we prevailed in federal court. We were able to have a very decent case law that included a provision for the federal VAWA act, which helped protect a lot of immigrant women that were being abused.
4. After working on the East Coast after graduating from law school, why did you decide to move to Cupertino?
I moved here for a job—Silicon Valley kicked off a salary war back in the 90s, before I was even aware of the financial specifics of the industry. After the DotCom boom, the Silicon Valley needed a lot more corporate lawyers, and in 2005, the firm that helped kick off this salary war was looking for patent litigators. They extended me an offer, and I hopped on board.
5. What made you decide to get involved in city government?
I was always interested in getting more involved in the community—during my time as a pre-med at Harvard, I realized that I wanted to get more out of my education than constantly studying. I began to get more involved in the community aspect of college…When I moved here in 2005, I decided to get more involved in the public arena, and happened to make friends with a couple of people who were involved, and after a couple of years I was appointed to the Parks and Recreation commission. A couple years later, I decided to take the dive and run for City Council.
6. What is your favorite thing about living in Cupertino?
I like the fact that you have a convergence of factors that are unique to Cupertino. The three that come to mind the most is that it has a very well educated, technically oriented and diverse community…I’m kind of a suburban mouse. I grew up in a suburb, and I like the feel of the neighborhoods here. I really love the outdoors here as well, the fact that we have great trails on the outskirts of town…I’ve heard Rancho San Antonio described as the best cross-country trails in all of California.
7.Do you think citizens of Cupertino are involved and informed about city issues?
I think we can always be more informed…I’ll start with myself—I’m terribly proud of it, but I didn’t always have the most pristine voting record. But I’ll say this: I do think people of Cupertino are more informed than most about the issues, but one thing I’ve observed is a tendency to only pay attention to issues as they confront you and your interests…but that’s a perfectly natural and understandable tendency.
8. How would a citizen of Cupertino go about getting more involved and informed?
There are at least two public mechanisms: read your election postings when they come out, and look at the Cupertino website when this information is released. The also meets every other Tuesday, and the Chamber of Commerce brings to the public various issues that confront the community on the first Friday of every month. And, of course, we have a number of commissions in the city that are appointed by the City Council.
9. In the time that you’ve lived here, how has Cupertino changed?
I’ve been here six years, and I think that things are the same in that things are still very tech oriented. It’s still very much about innovation here. I think things have settled down a bit, and I think we’ve learned a lot from the last couple of ‘bubbles’…we shouldn’t just be looking at the bottom line. I think we’ve matured a little bit over the past few years.
10. What’s one thing the citizens of Cupertino should know about you or your work?
I would want them to know that my basic philosophy is that I think you can get a good education anywhere, as long as you have the patience…in terms of what keeps me in this community, I do think we are very good educationally, but I think there are places in which we could definitely pull back and focus on producing more well-rounded citizens.
Those looking to become more involved in the community can attend the next Legislative Action Council meeting on August 5, in which the local District Director for the entire Bay Area of the federal Small Business Administration will be speaking.