New council members Willey and Chao sworn in to Cupertino City Council

Two Better Cupertino supporters make their council debut

Andrea Perng

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On Dec. 6, mayor Darcy Paul and new city councilmembers Liang Chao and Jon Robert Willey were sworn in to the Cupertino City Council, surrounded by poinsettias on the dias podium and, for Chao and Willey, standing ovations. After initial predictions that incumbent councilwoman and former mayor Savita Vaidhyanathan would retain a seat on the council, Willey narrowly overtook her in the election by 45 votes. Paul and Chao each garnered over 9,500 and over 8,500 votes respectively, with Paul setting the record for the most votes of any Cupertino official in history.

The ceremony first began with commemorative videos for outgoing council members and former mayors Barry Chang and Vaidhyanathan, showing their first oath of office ceremonies and some of their significant achievements. Following the videos were statements from each of the councilmembers. Many of them reminisced about Chang’s passion and willingness to fight for what he believes in and Vaidhyanathan’s calm nature and poise while on the council.

Afterward, a total of 27 speakers came to congratulate Chang and Vaidhyanathan on their achievements, including former councilmembers Gilbert Wong and Orrin Mahoney, as well as Hung Wei and Chao, who both ran in the Cupertino general election. The two outgoing councilmembers both received gifts that ranged from Apple watches to an already-filled speaker card for Chang, a joke about his tendency to speak passionately about his opinions while on the council.

Chang and Vaidhyanathan then departed from the dias for the last time, their name plates removed from their seats as audience members rose for a standing ovation. Their nameplates and seats on the council, were promptly replaced by Chao and Willey, who also received standing ovations following their oaths of office.

Willey had run his campaign on the principle of considering resident feedback and increasing transparency, and had gone door-to-door during his campaign. Before being sworn in, he sported a white jacket that said “For the Residents” on the back, dotted with the colorful signatures of his supporters.

While Chao is a supporter of political action committee Better Cupertino along with Willey, her campaign differed from his in that she placed more emphasis on what she calls “sensible growth,” or development that does not exacerbate population-related problems like traffic. She has previously spoken out about what she sees as the recent trend of irresponsible growth and development within Cupertino.

With Willey and Chao now on the council, the number of Better Cupertino supporters on the board now totals four, the other two being Paul and incumbent councilmember Steven Scharf. Following the swearing-in ceremonies, Scharf and Chao were chosen by the rest of the council to be Cupertino’s new mayor and vice mayor, respectively.

“Cupertino voters have spoken, and the majority of them favor sensible growth which fits the character of Cupertino,” Chao said in her acceptance speech. “It’s a long road ahead. It won’t be easy. But I’m sure that we will work together to create a better Cupertino.”

You can watch the full oath of office ceremony below.

City of Cupertino