FilAm Runs for Mayor

By Malou Aguilar/

VALLEJO — It was not his name that caught our attention. Cris Villanueva is the namesake of a popular Filipino teen actor in the 80s. In a letter published in the Vallejo Times-Herald sent by a longtime resident, Lagreeh Flores wrote her concern about the financial budget crisis facing Vallejo. She then continued to describe a man who she believes can change the quality of life in their city.

Villanueva, a resident of Vallejo, has continuously shown his passion for public service.  In 1989, he joined the city council race and was successfully elected for two consecutive terms (1989-1997). He was also appointed as vice mayor in 1994.  This same passion is the reason why he is running for mayor.

His philosophy, “vision into action,” is what makes Villanueva different from other candidates. He believes that it takes knowledge, dedication and hard work to deliver results and be a strong leader.   A certified public accountant, he is now busy preparing for the upcoming US elections on the first week of November.  The good news is that Villanueva has edged out his other rivals by raising as much as $113,000 in campaign funds, as reported by the Times-Herald.

Villanueva is a full-blooded Pinoy. He grew up mostly in the quiet town of Dolores, Quezon.    He used to be an accounting professor at the Lyceum of the Philippines. He taught at the Centro Escolar University and the Philippine College of Commerce. He also served as vice president for finance for Delgado Brothers, Inc. before moving to the US in the 1975.  He settled in Vallejo and for the first two years, worked overtime almost everyday to save money.  In 1977, the same time he bought his first house, he went back to the Philippines to marry his long time fiancee, Candy.

Though he earned his California Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license in 1983, Villanueva admitted that he experienced some racial discrimination. This included working endlessly but being passed over other employees, in most cases, an Anglo-American.  Still, he was driven to serve the people of Vallejo, including his desire to improve how Pinoys are treated.

Bringing Vallejo ‘back in the black’

Villanueva believes that he is the candidate who can make positive changes in Vallejo.  His ‘back in the black’ plan focuses to resolve the city’s financial budget crisis to improve the quality of life.   In his website, he outlined his vision for economic recovery. This  includes issuance of new tax exempt bonds to create tourist infrastructures to make Vallejo a more inviting tourist destination, the creation of enterprise zones to attract green and clean industries to produce jobs for residents, and economic development and revenue enhancement without cuts and further taxes.

For budget, Villanueva strongly proposes long-term projections for both revenues and expenditures, fiscal impact analysis on every adopted resolution and periodic monitoring of actual and budgeted revenues and expenses.  He also has recommendations and proposals about other issues on public safety, health and welfare and
education, as well as programs for the youth and senior citizens.

With the programs that he plans to implement throughout the city, he knows that he can continue bringing more businesses into Vallejo.  These will provide continual job growth and stronger employment opportunities, balance the budget and satisfy the needs of residents and tourists.

Family man

For 30 years now, Villanueva has been a dedicated and faithful husband to Candy, who is a registered nurse at Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo.  Having lost his father when he was only six months old, Villanueva and his three siblings were raised solely by their mother, Carmen.  Mrs. Villanueva worked hard to make sure that all her children received education. She believes that education is the best gift a mother can give with her children.

This lesson has been passed on to Villanueva’s pride and joy, his four children.  His only son, Christopher is now a State policeman in Napa, and a reserved captain at the US Air Force.  Daughters Crystal and Candace are both registered nurses at Queen of the Valley Hospital and Sutter Solano Medical Center, respectively, while youngest daughter, Carissa, is a sophomore at the St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School.  Villanueva is also a caring grandfather to only grandson, Noel.

Still a Pinoy at heart

Given the chance to serve as mayor of Vallejo, Villanueva’s heart is fixed on helping the Philippines and his fellow Filipinos.  “As soon as I win, I will set up a trade mission to the Philippines and other Asian countries,” he said in an interview with GMANews.TV.   During his term as vice mayor, Villanueva established Baguio as a sister-city of Vallejo.  At present, he plans to expand the trade relationship with Baguio and the Philippines with the possibility of establishing an American school of medicine and nursing.

While a number of Filipino immigrants tend to be passive about their heritage especially when they have been assimilated in the American culture, Villanueva still proves to be a Pinoy at heart.  In fact, he is taking a hands-on approach on his children by immersing them in Filipino culture.  He instills in them strong family ties and values, as well as the importance of education.

Apart from his public service record, financial knowledge, experience and qualification, dedication and ‘vision into action’ motto, his Pinoy heart and values is probably what makes him stands out from the rest of the candidates.

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