BINALONAN, Pangasinan (PhilAmPress) – A grandson of Carlos Bulosan, the famous writer and labor union activist and workers and minority rights fighter in America and a local hero in his hometown of Binalonan, has been elected as mayor of a major city in California in the November 8 elections.
But while his counterpart in Binalonan, Mayor Ramon Guico III, a young pilot, educator and businessman, won without opponent in the May 2016 elections, Bob Sampayan had to survive a hardous campaign against two strong contenders.
In the end, Sampayan, a former police officer and City Council member, emerged victorious with over 14,000 votes and will thus be the mayor for the next four years in the city of Vallejo, an emerging Filipino town in Northern California and home to another famous Filipino American, Natalie A. Coughlin, one of the winningest US Olympians in history with over a dozen gold, silver and bronze medals and whose mother Zenaida is a Filipino and father Jim Coughlin was with the Vallejo Police force like Sampayan.
Sampayan, a City Council member and a former Vice Mayor of Vallejo prior to his election, got 14,516 votes (40.69%) and defeated two strong candidates, namely, Landis Graden, a businessman and Chairman of the Vallejo Planning Commission, who secured 11,362 votes (31.75%), and former Vallejo School Board Trustee Bill Pendergas who came in third with 9,743 votes (27.23%).
Sampayan, who becomes the first candidate of Filipino ancestry to be elected mayor of the burgeoning city of Vallejo and will serve for four years until 2020, lauded his two opponents whom he described as formidable, and vowed to meet them soon and seek their advice.
Mayor Osby Davis, the city executive since 2007, congratulated Sampayan. Graden and Pendergas also congratulated Sampayan, saying he is a “good man” and “wish him well.”
Sampayan, 64, was born in Fort Belvoir in Virginia and later settled in Salinas, California where he attended the Hartnell Community College and later the San Jose State University. In 1973, he started working as a patrol officer, training officer and detective at the police department in Palo Alto, the heart of the Silicon Valley and home of the famous Stanford University.
Mayor-elect Sampayan is married to Ramona and lives in the Hiddenbrooke subdivision of Vallejo. They have two grown children and two grandchildren who also reside in Vallejo.
Residents of Binalonan are ecstatic with the victory of Sampayan and look forward to a possible visit by the mayor to Binalonan itself and pay tribute to Carlos Bulosan who authored the epic book “America is in the Heart,” the famous short story “The Laughter of My Father,” the poem “I Want the Wide American Earth” which was the theme of President Obama’s celebration of Asia and Pacific Islanders Month, and the essay “Freedom from Want” which was commissioned by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Natives of Binalonan who reside in Vallejo like Art Gabot Madlaing, a pastor, book author and columnist, and Josephine Farnacio Udasco, class valedictorian in the Binalonan North Central Elementary School and a nurse in California, who campaigned for Sampayan, are happy with the results and thanked fellow supporters.
The Philippines Today, the biggest and the only circulation-audited FilAm newspaper in San Francisco and the Bay Area which has as editor in chief veteran journalist, professor and book author Alfred Gabot, another grandson of Carlos Bulosan, rallied support for Sampayan during the campaign.
Sampayan immediately took the rounds and to the social media to thank the people of Vallejo for their support.
“Thank you, Vallejo!! I can’t find the words to express my thanks to all of you for making my campaign a success,” he stated. “My platform for mayor was built on the belief that we, as a community, will work together to build a better Vallejo. I will stand on that and work tirelessly to make it happen.”
“You can rely on my 34 years of public service and leadership to continue to serve Vallejo with integrity,” he stated on his post. “We need to take advantage of the economic upturn and continue to distance ourselves from bankruptcy. I have the track record to do both!”
“With my leadership, fiscal responsibility and community listening and collaboration skills, we can ensure that Vallejo is a sustainable and attractive place to live, work and play,” Sampayan added.
“Working together, we can make Vallejo the shining star of the North Bay once again,” he stressed.
During the campaign, Sampayan vowed to rebuild the public’s trust and confidence in the city and focus on attracting jobs and industry.
He said he will push for job training and will work with the School District, Community College, Touro University, and the California Maritime Academy to establish and maintain internship programs for young city residents.
“Lastly, I will always champion a safe, healthy and attractive environment by upholding the highest environmental standards for new and existing development projects,” he said. “I pledge to protect our wetlands, coastline, historic monuments and other fragile open spaces.”
Prior to serving as City Council member and Vice Mayor, Sampayan have served the residents of Vallejo for over three decades as a police officer and Crime Prevention Coordinator for Fighting Back Partnership (FBP).
“As Police Sergeant, I commanded the Central Community Substation in Downtown Vallejo. I specialized in quality of life issues that affected my district,” he revealed.
“ I engaged residents to work with the Police Department by establishing the Civil Nuisance Abatement Program, which was the forerunner of the current Neighborhood Law Program now used by the the City Attorney’s Office,” he said.
“ As the Crime Prevention Coordinator for FBP, I established over 350 Neighborhood Watch Programs when the City’s bankruptcy caused an all time low of Police Officers,” he said.
He said during the campaign that as a City Council member, he voted for “a sustainable budget, championed rebuilding public safety and worked to encourage economic development.” (PhilAmPress/PhlTodayUSA)