MOUNTAIN VIEW — Ellen Kamei was elected mayor of Mountain View during a virtual meeting on Jan. 12.
Previously vice mayor, Kamei succeeds Margaret Abe-Koga, who remains on the City Council. Each year the council chooses one of its own members as mayor.
The new vice mayor is Lucas Ramirez.
Two new council members, former State Assembly Speaker Sally Lieber and Pat Showalter, who has previously served on the council, were sworn in. They replaced Chris Clark and John McAlister, who were termed out.
The other council members are Alison Hicks and Lisa Matichak.
For the first time, the council has a progressive majority and all but one of the members are women.
“Mountain View is a special place,” said Kamei, who was elected to the council in 2018. “It’s a place where a person who used to have to check the ‘other’ box to identify themselves can call home. It’s a place where the daughter of a Japanese American father born at an internment camp in Wyoming and a Chinese and Puerto Rican mother from Harlem, New York, is able to serve as your mayor.”
Kamei said that her top priority will be the state eviction moratorium. “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.”
Abe-Koga served as vice mayor in 2019 and was re-elected to the council in 2020. She previously served two terms on the council from 2007 to 2015, as vice mayor in 2008, and as mayor in 2009, becoming the first Asian Pacific American female to serve in those capacities in Mountain View’s history.
The meeting was adjourned in memory of Judy Moss, Mountain View’s first female council member and mayor, who served from 1972 to 1980. She died on Dec. 13.
Roots in Mountain View
Kamei posted the following autobiography on her website:
“For me, Mountain View is home. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, I am the daughter of a first-generation Chinese and Puerto Rican American mother from New York City and a third-generation Japanese American father born at Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming. I am multiracial and multilingual, learning to speak Spanish, Japanese, and Mandarin.
“I grew up on my family’s ten-acre flower-growing nursery. The nursery was first located in Mountain View and later moved to Morgan Hill, the two cities where I grew up. My grandparents lived in Mountain View, and along with my younger brother, I would spend many days with them at their home in Waverly Park, planting the seeds for my roots in the city. These childhood experiences brought me back to Mountain View when my grandparents fell ill. They have both since passed away, but I have been fortunate enough to be able to stay.
“Inspired by community service since youth, I began volunteering in elementary school and haven’t stopped since. I hold the steadfast values of participation and assistance, especially to those in need within the community. Driven to service, my career has taken me from Japan to the East Coast and back home to Mountain View. My professional experience spans over a decade in public service at the city, county, state, and federal government levels. I have helped work on national issues to public safety within Mountain View.
“In addition to my professional experience, I am a graduate of Leadership Mountain View, and served on the Leadership Mountain View Advisory Council. I served as a member of the Mountain View Public Safety Foundation Board, volunteer of the Mountain View Firefighters Random Acts nonprofit assisting in the annual Fire Drill 5K/10K Race and Pancake Breakfast. I assisted the Mountain View Historical Association, of which I am a member, with their Spring Panel on ‘Japanese in Mountain View’ to celebrate May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and to reflect on the 75th anniversary of Japanese [American] internment in 2017.
“For six years, I was a member of the City of Mountain View’s Environmental Planning Commission, serving as vice chair in 2014 and chair in 2015.
“Our middle class is shrinking and our diverse community is changing. I ran [for City Council]to make sure opportunities continue for our next generation as well as our family-oriented community. I sought to pair my leadership, experience, and skills with the passion of the voices of the community to ensure that Mountain View continues to stand in support of all its residents, and that it is a welcoming and safe community.
“I live near the Moffett Boulevard/North Whisman neighborhood with my husband, Chris, and our dog, Nori.”
Located in Santa Clara County and named for its views of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mountain View has a population of nearly 83,000. It is the birthplace of Silicon Valley and the home of many of the world’s largest technology companies, including the headquarters of Google and Alphabet Inc., Mozilla Foundation, Intuit, NASA Ames research center, and major headquarter offices for Amazon, Microsoft, Symantec, 23andMe, LinkedIn, Samsung, and Synopsys.