MOUNTAIN VIEW — For the first time in its history, the Mountain View city council is made up almost entirely of women and holds a progressive majority after years of more conservative and slow-growth leadership.
With a majority of the seats on the city council up this past November, voters faced an ideologically split candidate pool divided on the city’s hot-button issues of housing, RV and car dwellers, rent control, policing and economic recovery from the pandemic.
Former Vice Mayor Ellen Kamei was chosen by her newly sworn in council colleagues to lead the city as mayor, replacing council member Margaret Abe-Koga in that role. Her ascension to the city’s top role from second-in-command is part of a general tradition to pick the former vice mayor to be mayor.
Nominated by Lisa Matichak, who was vice mayor, councilman Lucas Ramirez was unanimously chosen to replace her after four years on the city council.
After nine people ran for an open seat, voters in November tapped Abe-Koga, former California Assembly speaker Sally Lieber, Matichak and former councilwoman Pat Showalter to lead the city.
With Chris Clark and John McAlister termed out and replaced with Showalter and Lieber, the city council’s make up is among the most progressive in the city’s history with a majority claiming support for rent control, more affordable housing projects, increasing parking options for RV and vehicle dwellers and using government as a safety net for the city’s most vulnerable.
The daughter of a Japanese father detained in an American internment camp in Wyoming and a Puerto Rican-Chinese mother from New York City, Kamei has been a key ally of progressives on the council since her election in 2018.
Kamei said during her remarks that she’d like to keep Mountain View as the welcoming place that she grew up in. She said she’ll focus her leadership on the economic recovery and shoring up renters — who make up about 60% of Mountain View’s population.
“Top of my mind is the state eviction moratorium,” she said. “We have legislators who share our common goals of keeping people housed and we want to keep Mountain View a welcoming place. The pandemic has brought hardships for everyone coupled with so much uncertainty. I’m moved by the compassion of our neighbors.”
Ramirez thanked outgoing council members Clark and McAlister for their service during his remarks and lamented the fact that he is the only man left on the council as it deprived the city of a “truly historic council” of all women.
“I regret being the obstacle to that somewhat,” he said “But the voters have the opportunity to get that done in 2022.”
With the reorganization complete, the city council adjourned their meeting on Tuesday in memory of Judy Moss, Mountain View’s first female council member and mayor who served two terms from 1972 to 1980 who died two weeks ago.
“The call to end systemic racism and to stand up against injustices is not over,” Kamei said after her remarks on Moss. “I am committed to progress in this city and protecting all residents from various backgrounds. I feel renewed hope in 2021 because of our community, the road ahead is still long but I am heartened by what we can get done and the change we can bring together.”