News

Mountain View debuts new council, picks new mayor

Three newcomers take seats, as incumbents Rosenberg, Siegel and Showalter depart

It was a changing of the guard on Tuesday night as a trio of new city leaders assumed their seats on Mountain View City Council. Those newly elected freshmen -- Ellen Kamei, Alison Hicks and Lucas Ramirez -- were sworn in, each pledging to diligently serve the city for what looks to be a challenging year ahead.

The ceremonial Jan. 8 meeting was full of kind words, friendly handshakes and the exchanging of commemorative plaques. But the meeting also represented a significant shift in city governance as three one-term incumbents left office amid some concerns that their initiatives could be orphaned without new champions on the council dais.

It was a bittersweet night for outgoing council members Pat Showalter, Ken Rosenberg and Lenny Siegel, who spearheaded an aggressive housing push starting in 2015. Siegel and Showalter lost their bids for re-election while Rosenberg declined to seek a second term. Each had plenty of advice to offer their successors.

Rosenberg talked about an political epiphany he experienced in 2016 when he learned that 30 students were homeless at local schools. Ever since, his chief priority has been advancing human rights in Mountain View, and he urged someone on the council to take up the cause.

"Vote your values, not how your peers want you to vote," he advised. "On those rare occasions when you break from the group to vote your values, you'll sleep better at night."

There was plenty of discussion of the big-ticket challenges shared by Mountain View and other nearby cities, such as housing growth, traffic congestion and income inequality. These were the "perils of prosperity," Showalter said, and she pointed to Mountain View's work over the last four years to lead by example by taking on more of the burden to inspire its neighbors.

"We have not buried our heads in the sand, and we can't solve these things all alone," she said. "But we'll do our part and we'll stand as an example for what should be done."

But November's election may have been a sign that city voters were growing impatient with the sacrifices that came with that bargain. Mountain View isn't alone in dealing with traffic, housing or homelessness, so it made sense for the city to seek a solution in cooperation with neighboring cities, Councilwoman Hicks said. Echoing her campaign, she emphasized that the council should set its sights on keeping Mountain View as a great place to live for current residents.

"We can spark the solutions to the problems, but to solve them we have to go and speak to every city in the county," Hicks said. "When we're tackling global and regional problems, we have to remember that in the end, Mountain View is home to tens of thousands of people."

Kamei emphasized that she would take on housing as a chief priority, particularly the construction of residences for middle-income families. She was jubilant and described joining the City Council as a lifelong goal.

"Tonight the dream of a 9-year-old girl comes true to serve in the community she calls home," she said. "The story of my family started here over 70 years ago, and this is the next chapter for us."

Kamei and Ramirez add a new element to the demographics of the City Council. Both are relatively young -- in their 30s -- and rent housing, while the rest of the council mostly consists of older homeowners. In addition, both work as staffers for local politicians, and they bring a sweeping knowledge of regional policies and programs.

Joking that he learned to cut short his policy explanations, Ramirez emphatically urged everyone in the city to reach out to him with concerns or criticism.

"In the next three months, we're going to be seeing a lot of issues that are challenging and divisive," he said. "Hold me accountable when I fail you."

After the new council members took their seats, their first order of business was to elect a mayor. Vice Mayor Lisa Matichak was quickly nominated as the city's new mayor with Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga chosen to serve as the vice-mayor for 2019. It followed the city's long tradition of picking the vice mayor to hold the mayoral gavel.

The votes for both Matichak and Abe-Koga were unanimous.

"I hope we can have a collegial relationship as we work through the issues," Matichak said. "We each have our perspectives and sometimes they align, and sometimes they don't."

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Comments

18 people like this
Posted by ORR
a resident of Castro City
on Jan 9, 2019 at 2:30 pm

ORR is a registered user.

Congratulations Lucas, my neighbor!


232 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 9, 2019 at 3:12 pm

With the Gang of Three gone, I'm hoping for a new start. But since I'm a jaded realist, I'm expecting more of the same, just maybe a little more sane.


16 people like this
Posted by Diablo
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 9, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Congrats to Ellen, Alison and Lucas. All three had positions and backgrounds that resonated with me.

So, go out there and make us proud! To name just a few issues: smart growth (Alison), homes for middle income residents (Ellen), and aging in place (Lucas).


2 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2019 at 3:21 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

Just understand that the City Council hnas no choice to prevent net-loss housing plans.

They must provide inclusionary housing in every project as long as it is a multiple household plan (no single family homes as long as they are not in a single lot of land). This means 30% affordable to 120% AMI, 15% affordable to 80% AMI, and 5% to 50% AMI based on HUD housing affordability calculations.

They must have price controls are required to be sustained for 45-55 years.

THIS IS NEW ENFORCEABLE STATE LAW AS OF JAN 1 2019


35 people like this
Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 9, 2019 at 4:25 pm

Linda Curtis is a registered user.

Mayor Matichak has a most pleasant ring to it. We could not be in better hands. She understands what’s needed and what is not. She works hard to know all aspects in deciding issues. Her thoughts carry wisdom and insight. And Abe-koga always grows in her knowledge of our city’s needs and how best served. Kudos to both! Best ever combination of leaders for Mountain View.
And our three newly elected to the council are the most promising ever.


181 people like this
Posted by Katy
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 9, 2019 at 4:50 pm

Lucas and Hicks better realize that we want a change of direction for the city. We voted out Siegel and Showalter for a reason, it did not matter who was running for council as long as it was not the incumbents.

People who listened to Siegel's final speech last night thought that maybe he was ordering instructions to the new council what he wanted done. Be forewarned, do not go down that path, no matter how many people Siegel sends from his community activist camp, like Job Lopez, to the council meetings to demand action on his failed policy's.


106 people like this
Posted by marcos
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 9, 2019 at 5:17 pm

How about we finally take on the RV issue for once. Instead of coddling them, we need to have our streets back. Have you all walked Crisanto Avenue? If not, go by the RVs there. Smells like a sewer plant by the dirt walkway that run east of it by the train tracks.


21 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jan 9, 2019 at 7:11 pm

it should be obvious the incumbents were kicked out because they did not do a good job. The incoming rookies should realize that if they continue with the same nonsense, they will also be one timers.


11 people like this
Posted by Grumpy Minority
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 9, 2019 at 7:27 pm

No one can explain how the most virulently anti-vehicle dweller candidate, John Inks, lost in a landslide, an incumbent lost by less than 100 votes, and an incumbent's endorsed replacement won. Somehow, shockingly, the grumpy minority of voters in this city ignore facts to interpret this election as an endorsement of their hateful policies.


8 people like this
Posted by Secure the borders
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 9, 2019 at 8:56 pm

The most important matter - a "crisis" if I understand it - is to secure the borders with Palo Alto, Los Altos, Sunnyvale and the SF Bay. A wall would be nice but other barriers could be considered. Meanwhile, the new City Council should vote to SHUT DOWN city government. Who needs it? All the employees will still be paid when the shut down ends. 2019 should be just GREAT!


12 people like this
Posted by Joseph
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 10, 2019 at 12:28 am

We are very happy Mayor Lenny got voted out. We met him so many times for our ADU issue he was not all sympathetic and not at all helpful.


15 people like this
Posted by Billy Bob
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jan 10, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Congratulations to the new council members please take notice Mountain View residents want and demand change not hot air. This city is clearly broke and need change now


20 people like this
Posted by Concerned MVer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 10, 2019 at 5:12 pm

The 2 are gone, now we can move forward to rid our city of RVs.
Councilman Clark voted with Siegal and Showalter, so he better change his view or he will be facing the same voter dissatisfaction.

Get rid of the RVs now! Find a place for the RVs, but not on our residential streets, nor near our parks.


2 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2019 at 5:15 pm

I believe in order to battle homelessness in Mountain View the city needs to rally private organizations to buy up old commercial locations and convert them to very low income housing.

Or group housing that keeps security and privicy a high concern. Sunnyvale suffers from shelter dischantment. MV could benefit from rental units that are 2-3 hundred a month AND/OR hostel esque locations which can be paid for by night or longer durations.

Let's face it, homelessness is based on what's affordable and available. Also, It will also help to make drinking less popular as alcohol severly impairs your ability to earn money. Just a thought :)

Sincerely,

Dave


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