Born and raised in the Bay Area and a third generation Mountain View resident, City Council member Ellen Kamei has witnessed the city change first hand, both on and off the dais.
Kamei spent her early years helping out at her grandparents’ flower nursery in Mountain View, an experience that shaped her appreciation for small businesses. The council’s support for small businesses during the height of the pandemic – two grant cycles that amounted to nearly $1 million in aid distributed – is something she’s particularly proud of when she looks back at the last four years.
Kamei is running for a second council term this November, and supporting small businesses is just one area she plans to focus on if reelected.
“One of the things I had run on (in 2018) was housing, which continues to be something that’s huge in our community,” Kamei told the Voice in an interview. “I’m particularly interested in displacement strategies and middle income housing. You can go to school, and you can get a job, but it’s still very difficult to buy a home here.”
Kamei said she’s proud to have been a part of the collaborations forged between the city, the county and the state to stand up interim housing in the community, like Mountain View’s two project Homekey sites.
“It’s also about keeping people housed,” she said.
But hand-in-hand with bolstering the city’s housing efforts, if reelected Kamei said she will advocate for the other types of infrastructure that improve quality of life in Mountain View.
“We’ve heard from the community loud and clear that they would like us to prioritize our community in terms of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, as well as our green space parks and open space,” Kamei said. “... As we develop more, how are we creating opportunities for people to enjoy being outside? Or as we’re looking at the master planning process with East Whisman and North Bayshore we’ve been talking about, how will we provide city services?”
Kamei said she’s ready to tackle the city’s sustainability goals.
“How do people get from one part of Mountain View to the other in a safe manner, that doesn’t necessarily have to be car-centric? I think climate change is something we’re all feeling as we go through this heat wave,” she said. “We just hired our Chief Sustainability Officer and I’d really like to see us making progress on the goals and recommendations that were laid out.”
A member of the council’s transportation subcommittee, Kamei said there’s more the city can do to encourage greener transportation choices.
“We’ve been looking at taking away parking and making room for bike lanes, creating safe bike lanes as well as sidewalks, so that people have different options to get around,” she said. “That’s something I’d like to focus on in the four years to come.”
Kamei’s campaign announcement comes right after her return from maternity leave following the birth of her first child. She said she’s proud to be the first Mountain View council member to give birth while serving a council term.
“I’ve been able to go through the different phases of my life in my hometown,” Kamei said. “To be able to come back, start my family, be a new working mom, I think a lot of residents are probably going through the same thing. I’m excited for the opportunity to be able to continue to serve and know what an honor it is to do so.”