Former Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran standing in front of a small lake with the Milpitas Hills in the background
Former Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran bowing out of the 2024 mayor's race, citing conflicts with his work schedule. Photo by B. Sakura Cannestra.

Long-time Milpitas politico Rich Tran is bowing out of his run for mayor, citing schedule conflicts as he works on launching a tech startup.

He joined the race late last year after waiting to run again, since mayors can only serve six consecutive years and officials who serve their maximum term limits must wait two years. Tran previously serviced as mayor from 2017 to 2022. In an op-ed published by the Milpitas Beat, Tran said his work would take him out of the city frequently and he wouldn’t be able to dedicate enough of his time and energy to the city if he were mayor.

He added that launching a startup has been a lifelong dream of his and now is the time to pursue it.

“I’ve witnessed a lot of death during my short time out of office, friends who didn’t make it to 40, 45, or 50 years old,” Tran wrote. “I’ve often preached to others to go for their dreams ‘now’ because tomorrow isn’t promised.”

He added that he hasn’t decided on who he might endorse in the mayoral race, but said he has made public endorsements for city council races before. Mayor Carmen Montano announced her intent to run for reelection, though she has not yet filed, and Councilmember Hon Lien will be challenging her in November.

Montano could not be immediately reached for comment.

Lien said that as a businessperson, she’s happy for him and wishes him good luck. Lien added that she doesn’t know how his departure will affect the race, but she said voters will choose who they think is best for the job.

“My main focus is how I serve my city and the voters who voted for me,” Lien told San José Spotlight. “I represent them and I’m just going to do the same thing.”

Tran endorsed Montano in 2022. He praised her leadership after her speech at the 2024 State of the City address.

Tran has been a divisive figure since his election in 2017. He has previously been criticized by residents and councilmembers for spurring controversy, such as his statements on homelessness and threats to sue Santa Clara County and state over a Project Homekey proposal in 2020. He previously told San José Spotlight that during his last term as mayor, he was concerned about the city’s governing — two city managers left during his tenure and a third was terminated after he left office.

While Tran will not be running this year, he said he plans on returning to the city in the future.

“I’ll be traveling internationally and that just takes me away from Milpitas, but you know, one day, I’ll be back,” Tran told San José Spotlight. “I love Milpitas.”

Contact B. Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] or @SakuCannestra on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

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