Sunnyvale’s District 4 councilmember wants to be the city’s next mayor and is throwing his hat into the November 2024 election ring.
Russ Melton, 57, is the first candidate to officially enter the race. Melton is serving his second term on the Sunnyvale City Council. He was initially elected in 2016 before the city switched to district elections in 2020. He was reelected to represent District 4 in 2020. Prior to that, Melton served on the city’s planning commission from 2012 to 2017 and was chair from 2014 to 2016. District 4 encompasses the city’s southeast portion, bordered on the north by Caltrain’s rail line and south by Homestead Road.
Sunnyvale has a population of about 153,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and is divided into six districts.
If elected, Melton said he plans to focus on maintaining good governance practices in the city. He emphasized public safety and keeping Sunnyvale’s budget strong. He said he wants to find ways of supporting homeless residents and encouraging more housing development, along with strengthening transit infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.
A “local guy, through and through,” Melton grew up in neighboring Palo Alto and attended Henry M. Gunn High School in 1984. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy soon after, serving for about eight years, most of which was spent stationed at Moffett Field. Melton said his time in the Navy instilled the importance of serving one’s community.
“It’s an honor to serve the residents of the city of Sunnyvale and fuels my motivation to continue service, for the goal of keeping Sunnyvale a great place to live and work and do business,” Melton told San José Spotlight.
Maintaining the city’s good governance is Melton’s foremost focus, which he said will help ease overburdened city employees and improve the Sunnyvale’s efficiency. The city prides itself on prioritizing its needs, Melton said, and he wants to maintain that practice.
Melton also wants to increase public safety funding and hire more officers. Sunnyvale’s integrated program trains all its public safety recruits as police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. This model has wide support from the community and provides safer solutions to handling difficult situations, such as mental health issues, he said. Melton added that the need for more officers increases as the city’s population grows.
Another priority as mayor would be to make more progress in finding a safe parking location for Sunnyvale RV residents and providing support and safety services for that space.
His desire to serve his community extends beyond Sunnyvale. Melton serves as the chair of the Santa Clara County Local Agency Formation Commission, a state-mandated agency that oversees cities in the county’s urban development. He chairs the Silicon Valley Regional Interoperability Authority, which oversees and coordinates communication between the region’s various emergency service departments. He said he is proud to work with groups across the region on promoting good delivery of government services.
Morgan Hill Mayor Mark Turner, who works within both groups Melton chairs, said he is good at encouraging teamwork even when people have differing opinions. He added that Melton always finds a way to advance the topics at hand.
“It’s about leadership and how do you lead in a way that’s compassionate, empathetic, understanding, and sometimes bold,” Turner told San José Spotlight. “I think Russ has the skill and ability to do very well with that.”