|MILPITAS MAYOR Jose Esteves and Duarte City Mayor Tzeitel Caracci and delegations with Dagupan City Mayor Belen Fernandez during their recent visits to the city of their birth.|
By JO ERLINDA G. NEBRES
Special to Philippines Today USA
DAGUPAN CITY (PHLTODAYUSA/PHIL-AM PRESS) — This progressive city in Pangasinan is proud of a favorite son and daughter who are both mayors of two cities in California.
The two are Mayor Jose Esteves of Milpitas City in the Silicon Valley in Sta. Clara County south of San Francisco in Northern California and Mayor Tzeitel Russel Paras Caracci of Duarte City in the Los Angeles County in southern California.
A civil and industrial engineer, businessman, civic and church leader, Esteves has been mayor since 2002 and is now serving his sixth term as city executive which ends in December 2016, making him one of the longest-serving mayors in the United States and the longest serving Filipino American mayor like West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Gabaldon.
His being reelected mayor six times by big plurality of voters over his rivals attests to his success at stewardship of the city government and his being well loved and respected by city residents. During the last election in 2014, he garnered 61 percent of the votes.
Prior to becoming city mayor, he was elected and served as member of the City Council for a term starting in 1998.
Mayor Esteves is married to Susan, a successful businesswoman who is also strong in business, church and community work. They are proud parents of daughter Irene, a member of the National Honor Society and the California Scholarship Foundation.
Mayor Caracci is very much junior to Mayor Esteves (born in 1947) having born only in 1972. She was only eight years old when Esteves migrated to California in 1980.Mayor Caracci was born Tzeitel Russel M. Paras in Dagupan City in 1972. She was named after the eldest daughter in “Fiddler on the Roof,” a Broadway musical.
According to a post on the City of Duarte website, the future city mayor graduated from Duarte High School in 1989, four years after she and family moved to the city.
That year, Tzeitel was named the Los Angeles Times and Pasadena Star News DHS ‘Student of the Year.’ As a student, she served as Mayor Pro Tempore during Duarte Student Government Day, an experience that may have bolstered a dream to become a city official. She was also a DHS representative to Girl State.
Only two years later, on November 6, 2001, she became the first Duarte High School alumnae and the youngest woman elected to the Duarte City Council. In August 2003, Tzeitel married K.C. Caracci (Route 66 Parade Chair) at Royal Oaks Park in Duarte.
Five years after joining the City Council, in 2006, she became the city mayor of Duarte.
She attended Woodbury University majoring in Marketing and has worked for CIGNA HealthCare, Pasadena Unified School District and the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles. She is currently working part-time as an Outreach Consultant.
As a public servant, Tzeitel Paras-Caracci has served as Chair for the Redevelopment Agency in 2004 and Mayor in 2006. She continues to participate in many facets of government and civic engagement. She has continued to be an active member various organizations and committees. To name a few, she has served as President for APAMO (Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials) 2004-2006, Chair of the CityFutures Panel of Democratic Governance, member of Duarte Education Council and Duarte Community Service Council, Director of Sanitation District in 2006 and was appointed to serve a two-year term on the Board of Directors of the National League of Cities and the League of California Cities.
Despite their success in California, Mayors Esteves and Caracci have never forgotten their roots, visiting Dagupan City as often as they could and bringing cheers and help to their fellow Dagupenos.
Only last week Mayor Caracci was in Dagupan City as guest of Mayor Belen Fernandez and the City Council.
She planed in with her husband KC Caracci and their young son Jack.
Mayor Fernandez was returning the gesture of the Duarte mayor whom she visited while in California last year.
Mayor Caracci proved to be a true-blue Dagupena being from Barangay Bonuan Gueset in Dagupan City. She disclosed that she migrated to the United States 30 years ago to look for greener pasture with no inkling whatsoever of a possible twist of fate that would make her the mayor of one American city.
Mayor Caracci of Duarte City came home with her husband KC and their young son Jack.
Mayor Fernandez and some city councilors warmly joined her and family for lunch at the family residence in Bonuan Gueset on Wednesday.
When Fernandez was in the U. S. last year upon the invitation of Dagupan associations in the West Coast, she was brought by Dagupenos now living in California to Duarte City to meet its city mayor who hails from Dagupan.
After joining lunch with Mayor Caracci at her family’s residence in Bonuan Gueset, Fernandez invited Tzeitel, her husband KC and their son Jack to the Dagupan City Astrodome where she personally met families who were evacuated there due to Typhoon “Lando”.
Mayor Caracci took time out distributing candies and snacks to the children of the evacuated families.
Her son Jack playedg with the other kids in the evacuation center.
Mayor Caracci promised to return to the evacuation center with more candies and goodies for the children, which she did the next day.
Mayor Fernandez thanked Mayor Caracci for her time and effort in visiting the families evacuated due to the wrath of Typhoon Lando.
Fernandez, who hosted a dinner to the Duarte City mayor and family at City Hall Thursday night, expressed keen interest on the forging of a sisterhood agreement between Dagupan City and Duarte City, just like what it has with Milpitas City.
“We hope that in the future we can also consider the City of Duarte as our sister city aside from Milpitas in order to strengthen our relationship with its people,” Mayor Fernandez said.The Duarte City mayor noted that Dagupan made a vast transformation in all spheres of endeavor since she left the city of her birth 30 years ago.