Election day is just weeks away, and with numerous state seats opening up, and eight candidates running for city council, it is an exciting election year for Cupertino.
Congressional District 17 and Assembly District 26 will both see races between incumbents and newcomers this season. Learn about your candidates below.
Congress District 17
Ro Khanna currently represents California’s 17th District. Khanna was first elected to Congress in 2016. His priorities include banning PAC and lobbyist money, creating technology and manufacturing jobs across the United States, providing debt-free college, supporting apprenticeships and vocational training, standing up for women’s rights, and investing in new industries, including clean technology.
Some of Khanna’s major endorsements include former President of the United States Jimmy Carter, Senator Alex Padilla, and California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Indian American engineer and businessman Ritesh Tandon is running against Congressman Khanna. Tandon is the former President of a non-profit and works in the engineering and technical marketing sectors. He currently acts as CEO of Kricel Corporation.
Tandon will prioritize Silicon Valley by protecting the region’s job market and economy. He has also developed an economic plan to address COVID-19 and its aftermath.
State Assembly District 26
State Assemblymember Evan Low is in the running for the Assembly District 26 seat. Low is currently serving in the 28th district and is redistricting to 26 because the 26th district now includes Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Santa Clara, and a small part of San Jose. Low said that this is home to him, but he is choosing not to run against good friend and colleague, Marc Berman, in the 28th District. Low said he hopes his move will serve as an example of how two people can work things out.
As an assembly member, Low has worked closely with his community to tackle a diverse range of issues including housing affordability, environmental protection, marriage equality, civil rights, transparency in government, and fiscal reform. Low made history as the youngest Asian‐American Mayor in the country during his tenure with the City of Campbell, and the youngest Asian American legislator to be elected to the Assembly in California’s history.
Long-time business owner Tim Gorsulowsky is also in the running for the open seat in the new Assembly District 26. Gorsulowksy has previously served as a Delegate for the California Republican Party and is involved in several community organizations, including Adopt-a-Chaplain and the Elk Grove Disability Advisory Committee.
Gorsulowsky is looking to address security and safety, education, and the environment. His message is: A vote for Tim is a vote to reverse the negative direction California residents are currently experiencing in the areas of safety and security.
Eight candidates are competing for three available Cupertino Council seats this season; Mayor Darcy Paul and Councilmember Jon Willey who have termed out, and Vice Mayor Liang Chao is running for a second term.
Claudio Bono came to Cupertino in 2014 as a General Manager for The Cupertino Inn – the first hotel built in the city. He now serves as President of the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce, as well as a board member of the Rotary Club of Silicon Valley.
Notable endorsements include former Cupertino Mayor Orrin Mahoney, former Cupertino Mayor Richard Lowenthal, Cupertino Council Member Hung Wei, and Assembly Member Evan Low.
Vice Mayor Liang Chao is the only incumbent candidate running for city council this November. She has lived in Cupertino for over 24 years and is regularly involved with community issues and encourages appropriate changes in City administration.
Chao is a former board member for the Cupertino Union School District and a board member of YMCA Camp Campbell. Chao is also the co-founder of Better Cupertino, a community group that advocates for transparency, accountability, and community engagement in local government, and is known for its opposition to development. Notable endorsements include Cupertino Mayor Darcy Paul, Councilmember Jon Willey, and Councilmember Kitty Moore.
Moon Kyu Choe
Moon Kyu Choe is an immigrant who came to the United States with empty pockets but was given the opportunity to obtain an education and received his bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA. Choe currently runs both a CPA office and a real estate brokerage service in Cupertino.
J.R. Fruen is a third-generation resident of Cupertino working as an attorney, entrepreneur, and longtime community advocate. Throughout his lifetime Fruen has fought for transparency, and fiscal responsibility, and held city leaders accountable. If elected, Fruen will be the first LGBTQ+ to serve on Cupertino City Council.
Fruen’s priorities as a city council member are public safety, good governance, transparency, and maintaining the neighborhoods for every member of the community. Fruen is endorsed by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Senator Jim Beall, Senator Dave Cortese, and more.
Sheila Mohan is a longtime Cupertino resident with experience in finance and local government. Mohan acted as the Fine Arts Commissioner and Library Commissioner for Cupertino, and treasurer for the Santa Clara County Library District ballot measure.
Mohan wants to ensure fiscal accountability, maintain neighborhood integrity, create responsible growth, enhance the quality of life, provide housing and transit opportunities for seniors, teachers, service workers, and families, and promote partnerships with regional agencies. Her major endorsements include Councilwoman Hung Wei and former Cupertino mayors Richard Lowenthal, Gilbert Wong, Rod Sinks, Orrin Mahoney, Savita Vaidhyanathan, and Dolly Sandoval.
Ex-Mayor Steven Scharf is ready to run again. Scharf was elected to the City Council in 2016 and served as its mayor in 2019 and 2020. He ran unsuccessfully for re-election in 2020 and was instead appointed as the chair of the city’s Planning Commission. He wants to continue advocating for sensible growth, fiscal responsibility, transparency, sustainability, schools, affordable housing, and parks. Scharf wants to support state funding for affordable housing and work to prevent developer-backed state laws that remove local control.
Yuko Shima is an English language instructor in Cupertino and is originally from Japan. Her priorities for the city include easy access to recycling, affordable housing, a senior-friendly community, safe neighborhoods/crime prevention, and homeless rescue.
Shima hopes to implement free hazardous waste pickup and drop off, city-owned care homes, improved pedestrian safety, and support for the unhoused.
Govind Tatachari grew up in mining towns in eastern and central India before settling down in Silicon Valley where he has built a career in tech. He is a member of Cupertino’s Housing Commission where his current term will end in January of 2025. Tatachari is an entrepreneur and a parent in the city of Cupertino.
Cupertino Union SD
Running for Cupertino Union School District are Ava Chiao, Cupertino Mayor Darcy Paul, and incumbents Satheesh Madhathil, and Jerry Liu. Lori Cunningham is not seeking re-election.
Ava Chiao has been a teacher for more than 19 years, across preschool, elementary school, and high school science and health. Chiao says she knows what it takes to help individual students in the classroom, and now wants to take that expertise and apply it at the district level. Chiao wants to implement policy and work strategically with the district. As the only candidate with real classroom experience, she plans to bring the student voice to the Board. Some of her major endorsements include Assemblymember AD 25 Alex Lee, Senator D-15 Dave Cortese, and Assemblymember AD 26 Evan Low.
Current Cupertino Mayor Darcy Paul ends his Council term this December and is running for School Board in 2022. He has served as Mayor in 2018 and 2021, and as Vice Mayor in 2017 and 2020. At Council, Paul’s focus has been first on ensuring equity and fairness in services and facilities; and second, on ensuring the integrity of constituent sentiment within the context of democratic governance reconciled with what are often-times competing, influential, and well-resourced stakeholders.
As a father of two, Paul also wants to represent the school district to ensure the education of his own children and all the children of Cupertino.
Satheesh Madhathil is an incumbent running again for the School Board. He first assumed office in 2018 and started at CUSD as a kindergarten classroom volunteer and slowly took on roles in various parent groups. He continues to be an active leader and has held several Board positions including Finance Secretary, Executive Vice-President, and President.
Professionally, Trustee Madhathil is an engineering leader who, for the past 20 years, has been working with several high-tech companies in the Bay Area.
Jerry Liu is the other incumbent running to be re-elected for the Cupertino Union School District. His focus has been to provide the best education possible for the students and represent the priorities of the community overseeing the schools. He is running again to make sure that students are provided with a diverse set of learning options in a supportive environment. Liu is endorsed by Senator D-15 Dave Cortese, Congressman Ro Khanna, Assemblymember Evan Low, and more.
The School Board faced significant community opposition during the last term. In two failed recall efforts residents cited concerns around fiscal responsibility, school reopenings, and funding decisions including the closure of three schools amidst the steepest enrollment decline in history.