At the Cupertino Rotary's candidate forum, the for Cupertino City Council had the opportunity Tuesday to introduce themselves, voice their platforms and offer a glimpse into their plans of achieving their goals for the city.
The good-natured forum moderated by former Mayor moved along quickly enough to allow the collegial candidates additional time for closing statements—a surprise that may have been a gift to some, or a curse to others, to fill an additional 30 seconds on the spur of the moment.
Along with the expected desire to maintain the city's stellar public school system, the overarching theme threaded among the candidates was a focus on improving the retail canvas of the city. Retail is a not just a source of revenue, but it's also what can embellish and evolve the character of a community, some said. Sad-sack Vallco and the Mayberry-esque Main Street project were used as examples of how to compete with neighboring
Given equal time for opening and closing statements (the order in which candidates responded was rotated) the candidates also responded to the following three questions: Why are you running? What would you do to attract business to Cupertino? What would you do to make it more fun in Cupertino?
In alphabetical order, following is a summary of each candidate's responses:
The longtime educator would use her skills as a teacher "to bring consensus and some order to the count in decision" making.
She would "actively seek" out and encourage more retail business, "because with retail, we have more tax dollars," and she would work to "streamline the process" for retailers to move to the city.
Donna Austin offered nothing new to make Cupertino more fun, seemingly content with the city's current offerings and saying that she takes her granddaughters to play in the City Center fountains, watch the fish in the library's aquarium and romp at McClellan Ranch.
She stands out from the other candidates in gender, she pointed out a couple of times, and noted that there has been a woman on the City Council for years, and when Councilwoman Kris Wang's term is up at the end of 2011, there will be the female void without her.
"I say vote for me, the only woman up here," Austin said.
Marty Miller (voteformartymiller.com)
Marty Miller says he has a "keen sense" of how to make the city government more effective. Borrowing from the Rotary, the host and audience of the forum, Miller used the organization's "service above self" catchphrase to illustrate his motivation to give back to the community.
Main Street, the gap in revenue loss when Hewlett-Packard departs before Apple's campus is built, and attracting more business to Cupertino by providing incentives and a simpler permit process stood out in Miller's mind. He also said he's concerned about reducing traffic congestion and repairing roads, which goes along with his desire to make the city more walkable.
His ideas for funning-up Cupertino include developing more "gathering places," such as the proposed Main Street project, and a full-size cricket field would be fun, too, he said.
Rod Sinks (rodsinks.com)
Rod Sinks proposes to use his business acumen and volunteer experience as a Scoutmaster to lead and motivate.
He agreed with the others that a focus on retail is important and pointed to neighboring cities as better than Cupertino at drawing in businesses that are entertaining and vibrant.
Additional fun in the city could be had by extending the trail system to the Bay, adding more outdoor dining experience, and, for the adults, he said, "I think fun for them would be relieving traffic congestion around our schools."
Sinks takes seriously the city's commitment to and oversight of air and water cleanliness, he said. As a co-founder of Bay Area for Clean Environment, Sinks is a leader in the community in pushing governing agencies such as Santa Clara County in oversight of neighboring Lehigh Cement, which BACE charges is not in compliance with existing water and other environmental regulations.
Homer Tong (homertong.com)
Homer Tong envisions applying some of the principles used at the Fremont Union High School Board level, on which he has sat for almost 20 years, to the council.
To bring business to the city, Tong said it's necessary to find out why others have left, whether it is lack of "critical mass," "rent" or "lack of promotion." "If we're not doing well, we need to know why," he said.
Tong sees a stronger connection to the city's schools as a solution to improving the fun-factor, as well as creating balance within the city and continuing to make the city prosper.
Gilbert Wong (gilbertwong.org)
Gilbert Wong, the only incumbent of the bunch, touted some of the current council's passages that included increasing Cupertino Library's hours, adding crossing guards and parks. He sees for his second term a continuation of Stevens Creek trail restoration and assisting Apple with its new headquarters among his main points of interest.
Appearing to be quite satisfied with Cupertino's fun quotient, Wong listed places and things to do that he and his family find enjoyable.
Wong sees himself as an "independent voice" on the current council, one who can shepherd the group to work together.
Chris Zhang (chris4cupertino.org)
Chris Zhang sees the city offering free WIFI as one way to help businesses grow, he said. He also thinks more can be done to "attract foreign and domestic" capital to the city.
Flexibility for speakers during public comment periods at council meetings would encourage citizens to become more involved, he said, and he foresees more use of social media to encourage citizen exchange with the
He sees the city's safety record of numerous car break-ins as a problem. People should be able to go shopping without their cars being broken into, he says. Correcting the safety issue would improve the fun factor, too, but additional cultural events would be a plus.