Cupertino is at a Critical Crossroads

Dear Friends & Supporters, 

I have finally decided to run for the Cupertino City Council. I did not announce my decision sooner since I was not 100% sure until very recently. First and foremost, you have my personal commitment that I will continue to be open and accessible to you, and will continue to advocate strongly for issues that concern the community and education. 

With 2 years left in my 4-year term as a School Board Member, it has been a difficult decision, and yet a necessary one. I became involved in school and city issues because decisions often conflict with residents’ inputs and best interests. In 2016, I ran for CUSD School Board because CUSD was in crisis due to many issues, including the West Valley reconstitution, Luther school site conversion, 1-1 iPad program, and, most importantly, low teacher and staff morale and more. With a new Superintendent who makes sound decisions with openness and transparency, we’ve rebuilt trust on our way to a well-managed district. CUSD has recovered and is thriving.

On the other hand, the City of Cupertino is at a critical crossroads. Many disappointing and troubling events have happened the past two years that increased my frustration with the City’s leadership, mainly the City Council. If we cannot elect more resident-centric Councilmembers this November, we might not recognize our beloved Cupertino in a few years. I can contribute a lot more to Cupertino and all CUSD families, which are often affected by Cupertino decisions, if I am elected to the Cupertino City Council.

In CUSD:

  • We’ve restored trust and improved the relationship between CUSD and the parents and, more importantly, between CUSD and the staff.
  • We’ve improved transparency by livestreaming and recording CUSD board meetings.
  • We’ve improved engagement to keep parents and the community informed and we’ve used digital tools to gather more input with more interaction.
  • We’ve finally given the school sites more freedom in how to implement the 1-1 iPad program so that more conscious decisions are made that improve student learning, instead of just following a one-size-fits-all policy.
  • We’ve given the children of teachers the opportunity to enroll in alternative programs, which the previous administrations have been unwilling to even consider.
  • This year we finally reduced the size of the administration, which was previously increased due to one-time state funding for specific programs, such as Common Core.
  • In order to prepare CUSD for a more sustainable financial future, we’ve ventured to provide high-quality preschool and soon afterschool programs to generate revenue, by capitalizing on the good reputation of CUSD.

All this shows that with good leadership who is willing to make changes based on the community’s and staff’s input we can do great things together.

I desire to bring such positive energy to the City of Cupertino. The residents should not feel that their inputs are ignored again and again. There shouldn’t be a mentality of “It’s a done deal” and we should give up.

We, the people, should decide what we build or not build in our own city, not some outside forces. This is our community, our home. We set the rules and the developers should follow. If our rules are not clear, we must clarify. If the state laws, such as SB 35, weaken our rules, we must take immediate actions to strengthen our rules. We should empower the residents to be actively engaged in city decisions, not attempting to silence them. It’s time we elect someone who will do what it takes to protect Cupertino with stronger city rules and someone who will respect residents’ inputs.

We need a Councilmember who will ask critical questions, who will make decisions based on research, data and evidence, not wishful thinking, and who is willing to stand up to tremendous outside pressures, as I have done on the CUSD Board. Now more than ever, Cupertino needs someone who believes in democracy that’s based on grassroots residents, not dominated by establishment or monetary interests. It’s time we elect someone who will keep the City administration and the developers accountable by asking tough questions, instead of someone who only wants to make everyone happy on the surface.

If elected to the Cupertino City Council in November 2018, I will resign my position on the school board in early December.  I’m confident that the district is in good hands with new leadership led by Superintendent Baker. Most likely the remaining school board members will appoint a new member to replace me, as commonly done for school boards. As always, you can count on me to continue to be open and accessible to you, and continue to advocate strongly for city and also school issues that concern the community.

You all have supported me in my election to CUSD Board, for which I am extremely grateful. As you know, it’s a tremendous investment to run a campaign. And I will be facing a strong opposition who spent over $7 million dollars in Cupertino elections in 2016. We have a tough battle ahead of us in the next three months. I will need your support – emotional, physical and/or monetary – in order to bring positive and much needed changes to the City of Cupertino as we’ve done for CUSD.

Please reach out to me if you could lend a hand in any way. We are in this together for a better future for our children.

Feel free to contact me at 408-337-2176 at any time with any questions or suggestions.

Sincerely,

Liang Chao
Cupertino Union School Board Member and Cupertino City Council Candidate