Cupertino’s hotly contested City Council race resulted in a reshuffling of the current administration, with Mayor Scharf losing his bid for a second term in office, coming in third place behind former Fremont Union High School District Trustee Hung Wei and Planning Commission Chair Kitty Moore. Two seats were open, with Scharf’s first and Councilmember Rod Sinks’ second terms coming to a close; Sinks endorsed Wei to replace him on the Council.
In a race generating nearly 45,000 votes, the top four candidates fell within a spread of less than 4.5 percent, despite demonstrative differences in position; a reflection, perhaps, of the deep divide that still permeates through the city’s electorate. Wei and Moore were separated by less than 700 votes, and Cupertino for All’s J.R. Fruen came in a close fourth behind Scharf, separated by just 33 votes.
Fodder for speculation on the turn in voter sentiment ranges from the personal – Scharf’s Trumpish ‘build a wall’ comments last summer – to the performance based, including allegations of fiscal and legal mishandling relating to staff severance packages and General Plan Amendments, inadequate affordable housing allocations that spurred warnings from the State, and general community fatigue over years of serial gamesmanship over the Vallco project.
Former Fremont Union High School District Trustee Hung Wei took the majority of Cupertino’s votes, and brings a string of local endorsements, including the city’s education administration and many of its current and former leadership, as well as local representatives Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and State Assembly Member Evan Low, and various business organizations. Wei won support for her platform of good governance and fiscal responsibility, which includes improving transportation and traffic, maintaining suburban integrity, protecting the environment and bettering schools.
Voters also indicated a preference for Planning Commissioner Moore, who bears a similar stance to Scharf on housing, among other issues. Last year, she lost an 18-month legal challenge to Vallco’s SB35 approval along with co-complainant Better Cupertino, in a scathing ruling that declared their arguments ‘convoluted’ and ‘circular’. Moore is also known for her independent positions; she famously insinuated Apple’s young male employees might take advantage of local high school girls; and earlier this fall, she nearly scuttled plans for The Oaks redevelopment with an 11th hour opposition, but reversed course in a subsequent meeting. Backers give hearty praise for Moore’s tenure on the Planning Commission; she has the support of various city leaders including fellow Planning Commissioner Vikram Saxena and Cupertino Housing Commissioner Tessa Parish, and Planning Commission Vice Chair Ray Wang calls her the ‘Erin Brockavich of Silicon Valley’. Moore is endorsed by Cupertino Vice Mayor Paul, as well as council members Liang Chao and Jon Willey, laying the groundwork for an aligned agenda over the next two years.
Updated 12/2/20 with final election results.