October 24, 2006 > Henry Manayan
by Steve Warga
When Henry Manayan stepped down as mayor due to term limits, he endorsed, supported and helped elect the current mayor, Jose Esteves. Manayan is disappointed in Esteves' administration and wants the mayor's seat again after a mandatory four-year absence.
TCV: You've been Milpitas mayor before, how long ago was that?
Manayan: I was mayor from 1996 to 2002. That was three terms of two years each. That was the maximum allowed by term limit rules. I also served as a councilmember and a planning commissioner before that.
TCV: Do you favor the unusual two-year term of office for the mayor's seat?
Manayan: It is unusual and I think I would favor changing it to be like the council seats. I think the mayor's office should be set at two terms of four years each. Having to run every two years is a strain on voters and a strain on the economy. I think it's also a disservice to the office of mayor because you don't want to be politicking every other year.
TCV: What is it that draws you back to the race for mayor?
Manayan: I've been asked to come back by a number of residents and city officials who are not satisfied with the current state of affairs. I feel very strongly that I want to come back and improve the city.
I was part of a group that supported and endorsed our current mayor when he ran to replace me in 2002. We realized after two years that he was doing a terrible job trying to straighten out City Hall and get the economy back on track. I feel it's my civic duty to come back.
TCV: What have you established as your top two priorities if you're returned to the mayor's seat?
Manayan: I have a four-part platform: First is economic development. I've been responsible for bringing millions of dollars and thousands of employees to the city; Fortune 500 companies like Cisco Systems, Veritas and Sony Corporation all came on my watch when I was mayor and while I was on city council. We need to address our spiraling business space vacancy rates.
Second point is public safety. Under the current mayor, we've cut personnel, we've cut services. If you talk to the firefighters, they'll tell you they're staffed so thin that they could not get from an emergency on one side of the city to a second on the other side. We must have full staffing to protect the public.
Third, we must develop more cooperation between the city and the school district. Although each operates separately, there are ways to work together. For example, more resources for after-school programs and the teen center we started while I was mayor. Also, we have lots of new housing going in, but there is no plan to deal with the increase in student enrollment. We must look at this now.
The fourth point of my platform is city services. Do the residents get the service they pay for? I would submit to you that the service level has deteriorated over the last four years. We've cut back and laid-off city staff. We must reinforce our frontline personnel.
TCV: Do you feel like you accomplished what you set out to do during your prior stint as mayor?
Manayan: You know, I take a very business-like approach to problem solving. You identify the problem; you consider alternatives; then you follow through. I think when you set goals, you understand you can't achieve all of them, but you make a whole-hearted attempt. Of the projects we did attempt, I think we accomplished over 90 percent of our goals. When you look at the Great Mall, for instance, or the Milpitas Business Park; if you consider bringing Cisco Systems here; or look at the building of a brand new City Hall, one of the cornerstones of my administration; these are things I'm extremely proud of; these are things I delivered.
I promised improvements to transportation and I delivered two massive freeway interchange projects and the light rail.
TCV: Anything you'd like to add?
Manayan: I think that I'm a proven leader, someone the voters have known before and who does what he says he'll do. Obviously I'm not in this for economic gain, it's a part-time job and I've done well in my business endeavors already.
I'd like to be mayor again because I love Milpitas. I hope the voters see that. There's been a real lack of accomplishments during the administration of my opponent. If you look at some of my supporters, you'll see many who originally supported him but are now disappointed. I'd like to give our residents more of what they deserve from their mayor.