Rafu Staff Report
FOSTER CITY, Calif. — First-time candidate Steve Okamoto was the top vote-getter among six candidates for Foster City’s City Council in the Nov. 8 election.
Okamoto received 2,216 votes or 22 percent of the total. Also elected were incumbent Art Kiesel with 2,161 (21.4 percent) and Parks and Recreation Committee member Herb Perez with 1,863 (18.5 percent). Also in the running were small business owner Jennifer Minkey-Selvitella, CPA Bill Schwarz, and business owner/educator Patrick Sullivan.
Located 25 miles south of San Francisco in San Mateo County, Foster City is a planned community with a population of about 29,500.
Okamoto, 69, has lived in Foster City for 33 years. He was a member of the Parks and Recreation Committee and was inducted into the Sports Wall of Fame for his 22 years as a Little League manager and umpire.
Since deciding to run, he said, “I have attended all council and budget study sessions … It is important that new members be knowledgeable about the city’s finances and prepared to assume the role quickly.”
A retired Chartered Financial Consultant, Okamoto said that his goal is “making sure that streets are safe, seniors are served and children and families enjoy a quality of life here in Foster City.” He added, “Because both my son and daughter were raised in Foster City, I am familiar with the Foster City school system as well. I will use this knowledge to my advantage when dealing with education and youth-related issues.”
Okamoto served on the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee for four years, including one as chairman, and was president of the Peninsula Life Underwriters Association and the San Mateo County JACL.
Born in San Francisco, he graduated from UC Berkeley in 1963 with a degree in business and earned his Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 1978 and his Chartered Financial Consultant designation in 1984. He has 38 years of experience as a financial planner and 10 years fundraising for the American Cancer Society.
“I will use this knowledge of business and finance to do the best job that I can, considering the budget deficits that we are now facing,” said Okamoto, whose campaign slogan was “Experienced, Approachable, Compassionate.”
His endorsers included Rep. Jackie Speier, Assemblymember Jerry Hill, State Sen. Mark Leno, three members of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, all five members of the Foster City Council, three former mayors, the San Mateo County Times, the San Mateo Daily Journal, and television personality Jan Yanehiro.
“I was happy to learn that not only did I receive the most votes of any candidate, but that I had won the vote in all 13 of Foster City’s precincts,” Okamoto told the Rafu Shimpo. “It was a very grueling campaign but I had the opportunity to walk all the neighborhoods in Foster City and went on some streets that I had never seen in 33 years of living in town. What I enjoyed most was meeting so many wonderful residents who really cared about what I was going to do as a councilman here in town.
“I look forward to four years of service to the community, taking a cue from the service given by my mom, Kay, my dad, Takeo, my sister, Barbara Marumoto, and my brother, Allen. The entire family is truly community-oriented.”
His late parents were community leaders in San Francisco’s Japantown; Allen Okamoto runs the family real estate business, T. Okamoto & Co., and is active in Japanese American and Realtors’ organizations; Marumoto is a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives.
Steve Okamoto and his wife, Diana, have two children, Brad, 31, and Katie, 30.