The Cupertino Community Hall was the site for a ceremony last Friday night where winners of November’s elections for three City Council seats were inaugurated. Two new City Council Members, JR Fruen and Sheila Mohan, were celebrated alongside the incumbent Vice Mayor and Council Member Liang Chao.
After the inauguration ceremony concluded, Chao nominated Council Member Hung Wei for Mayor. The Council approved the mayoral nomination with a 4-0-1 vote, with Council Member Kitty Moore abstaining. Liang Chao then nominated Moore for Vice Mayor, but Moore declined. Fruen then nominated his new colleague Mohan as Vice Mayor, and the body approved the nomination with another 4-0-1 vote, with Moore abstaining. Moore did not provide a reason for her abstentions.
The two newly elected members not only bring fresh faces to the Council, but also usher in a dynamic shift in the politics and diversity of the elected body.
The new makeup of the City Council cements, for the first time since 2018, a majority that is not aligned with Better Cupertino. As Cupertino Today has previously reported, Better Cupertino is a community organization co-founded by Council Member Chao that has promoted an anti-development policy agenda for the City. With the elections of Fruen and Mohan, Better Cupertino’s influence over the Council’s decisions has been significantly diminished. Exactly how the new members’ politics transform the Council’s decision-making around housing and land-use remains to be seen, but Fruen’s campaign website indicates that he “won’t just say no to everything like our current city council.” Beyond housing policy, though, Fruen’s election also represents another important shift in diversity for the City of Cupertino.
Council Member Fruen is the City’s first openly LGBTQ+ elected official. After an unsuccessful campaign for City Council in 2020, Fruen hopes that his 2022 victory “demonstrate[s] to other people who might have been concerned that they couldn’t win just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity that no, that’s maybe not true.”