October 24, 2006 > Jose Esteves
by Steve Warga
TCV: You're running for a third term as mayor, were you on the city council before this?
Esteves: Yes, I was elected to the city council in 1998 and I was a planning commissioner before that. After my four year term on council ended in 2002, I ran for mayor and was elected in a landslide.
TCV: Milpitas mayors run every two years. That's unusual, isn't it?
Esteves: It's very unusual and I intend to try to change this, but only to be effective after my last term so it cannot be said I did it for myself. I think it should be two, four-year terms.
TCV: What motivated you to run for mayor the first time?
Esteves: When I was on the council, I saw that I could accomplish more for the city as mayor. Number two, honestly, I didn't see anyone who could do better and I felt an obligation to the community to do my best.
TCV: You're almost finished with your second term. Do you feel you've accomplished what you set out to do?
Esteves: More than what I set out to accomplish. I'm very pleased with what's going on. For example, our new library and the downtown parking garage have come in on-time and on-budget. That's very important to me. Before my time, we only had one project, city hall, and it was an embarrassment. My opponent was mayor then and it was over-budget and very delayed. That's why I voted against giving the contractor more time to finish.
It makes a big difference to finish projects as planned. During my time, we make things happen. Before that, people would just come to us with an idea and we wouldn't have a clear picture of how to respond. During my tenure, we established an Economic Development Commission; we have a formal economic development plan; and we hired a full time director.
Because of this, we were able to compete during the hard times. As a result of my leadership, we were able to report a surplus in our most recent fiscal year. For the first time, since I became mayor, the city has a rating of AA by Standard & Poor's, the highest for any city in California. I'm proud of that!
TCV: What are your top two priorities?
Esteves: One is to continue this economic development. Number two, I want to keep going in our relationship with Milpitas Unified School District. Since I became mayor, the city drafted the first-ever, formal agreement with the district to work toward improving the quality of education and the safety of our children. Because of this, we have programs supported by the city in three schools that help the children every day. We're bringing college courses into our city schools too.
TCV: So, how do you grade yourself as mayor, so far?
Esteves: A+! I've done more than I set out to do and I want to keep going on with my values.
TCV: Is there anything you would like to add?
Esteves: My opponent is not ethical. For example, he says he supports Measure T, then votes no. He says he opposes hillside development then votes in favor of it. I'm upfront; people know my positions.
I have the courage to say that we should hold the line on salaries and pensions for our employees. We can't pay more when it would hurt the city's financial stability. We already pay our employees very well and I'm not afraid to say this.
I came from the Philippines in 1980 because my wife and I wanted to have a family and we didn't think our kids would be safe in the islands. In Milpitas, we have found that safety and feeling of security. We live family values and we support family values. We're grateful to be Americans and we're grateful to the citizens of Milpitas for allowing us to serve them.