Karina Dominguez has spent the last four years listening.
Ever since she got elected as a Milpitas City Councilmember in 2018, she has been making an effort to have intentional conversations with residents about their issues and concerns.
One of the things she has heard recently from others was that they wanted to see her step up.
And so, on the 4th of July, Dominguez announced her candidacy for Mayor of Milpitas.
“I have to do it now,” said Dominguez in an interview with The Beat. “I need to do it now because my community needs me.”
At the end of this year, Dominguez’s term on the Council will come to an end. Rather than run a re-election campaign for “her” seat, she is choosing to aim higher.
“One of the things I believe in very strongly is that these seats don’t belong to us,” said Dominguez. “We run for four years, we make a commitment, we take an oath of office—but we don’t own the seat.”
Dominguez feels that her time on Council has truly shaped her into being the best version of herself. Although the pandemic has brought forth unexpected challenges, she has found ways to meet them head-on.
There was the time, early on in the pandemic, when she got a phone call from a local dentist urgently in need of N95 masks. Without them, her office was unable to perform emergency surgical procedures for patients in need.
Dominguez had two N95 masks in her possession, both of which came from her job as a Crime Prevention Specialist for the San Jose Police Department. At the time, N95 masks were hard to come by and healthcare workers were struggling to access them.
Without a second thought, Dominguez went to drop off one of the two N95 masks at the dentist’s house. The dentist thanked her and told her that no other elected official had stepped up for her.
This brought Dominguez to thinking about who she was and how she led, during such a critical time.
“Every single day I was present. Every single day I listened to the stories of people dying in Milpitas,” said Dominguez. “And I listened to people suffering in a way that I never imagined when I took the oath of office in 2018.”
During the start of her term, Dominguez held monthly community hours where she’d interact with residents face-to-face in places like restaurants and a donut shop. Once the pandemic hit, she switched to virtual contact, giving updates on social media to provide resources and info to the community. She felt strongly that residents needed a kind of “update hub” to navigate the challenges brought about by Covid.
In addition to how she’s shown up for the community during the pandemic, Dominguez is proud of her work in pushing forward affordable housing, tenants’ rights, and women’s rights and related issues.
If she’s elected as Mayor, one of her big focuses will be on Public Safety. For example, she’d champion the implementation of police walking beats, whereby officers would routinely walk areas highly impacted by crime.
Another priority would be ensuring there’s a strong Economic Recovery Plan in place. As Mayor, she’d also look to implement goal-oriented leadership at City Hall – to bring more accountability and provide a strategic way to achieve and measure results.
Dominguez believes that there is a toxic political culture in Milpitas, with a “divide and conquer” mentality. She witnessed it firsthand when she saw Mayor Rich Tran take away her Vice Mayor role after just one year, despite a survey of residents showing the majority desired to preserve a two-year Vice Mayor term.
In fact, Dominguez said that when she was elected to her Councilmember position, Mayor Tran gave her a gift: a copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.
She started to read the book and just couldn’t relate.
“The Art of War is based on a divide and conquer mindset,” said Dominguez, who feels that Tran has used this mindset during his time as Mayor to “divide and conquer” their fellow Councilmembers.
Coincidentally, soon after, Dominguez walked into the bookstore of a Meditation Center and found Morihei Ueshiba’s book The Art of Peace calling to her from the shelves. The book delves into a “nonviolent way to victory,” using unity and compassion as the foundation. This was something Dominguez could relate to. And this is something she’ll be intentional about bringing to the role of Mayor, should Milpitas voters give her a chance.
“I’m extremely excited, I’m ready, I’m fired up,” said Dominguez. “I’m definitely ready to bring home this one for the people of Milpitas.”
At present, Vice Mayor Carmen Montano is also in the running for Mayor. Councilmember Anthony Phan, Voltaire Montemayor, and Ola Hassan have also pulled their papers to run. More coverage on the Mayoral race to follow.