A reorganization meeting last week not only allowed for a mayoral change on the Mountain View City Council, but also provided an opportunity for officials to take stock of city achievements over the past year.
Lucas Ramirez was appointed Mountain View mayor for 2022 during the Jan. 11 meeting. Alison Hicks was appointed vice mayor. A lifelong Mountain View resident, Ramirez was elected to the council in November 2018, as was Hicks.
Councilmember Lisa Matichak nominated Ramirez for mayor, noting that he was “well prepared for meetings,” brings new ideas and is collaborative with colleagues.
“He reaches out to community members and is process oriented, which I appreciate,” she said.
“I have a healthy appreciation for how strange and surreal this feels,” Ramirez said after the council unanimously approved his appointment.
Ramirez took a moment to lament the deep political divide nationally as the country has been beset “by calamity after calamity,” as he put it. In addition to the pandemic, he cited homelessness, climate change, political strife, the erosion of trust and “even the long-term viability of democracy and the rule of law in our country.” He referenced the recent one-year anniversary of the attempted takeover of the U.S. Capitol.
But locally, he was nothing but positive, citing a “stellar team” of council colleagues.
“I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of this team,” Ramirez said.
The meeting also served as a forum of appreciation for outgoing 2021 mayor Ellen Kamei, who was praised by fellow council members and regional politicians tuning in to the virtual affair. Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, Assemblyman Marc Berman and State Sen. Josh Becker all congratulated Kamei on a successful year of leadership.
Calling herself “the pandemic mayor,” Kamei noted her top priority was navigating the city through the COVID crisis, providing relief for renters and small businesses through the #TogetherMV campaign with Los Altos Mountain View Community Foundation. She also presided over a partnership with the county to bring a COVID vaccination site to the city, located at the Mountain View Community Center.
“There wouldn’t be a vaccination site for the county if there wasn’t a place to put it,” Simitian noted.
He also pointed to the opening of the county’s new social services agency in Mountain View.
“We can get more done if we’re doing it with partners – partners who share the good values, and that has been my experience with Mountain View,” he said.
Kamei listed a number of 2021 accomplishments that included addressing homelessness and vulnerable populations through such additions as the Life-
Moves temporary shelter opened last year to helped unhoused residents transition into their own homes. Another council-approved effort involved $3 million in federal money split among Community Services Agency, a Solidarity Fund to help undocumented workers and a basic income program.
Also achieved: 700 units of new housing and receipt of $8 million from the state set to fund an all-affordable 120-unit housing project downtown. In the works is a homeless housing project – in collaboration with the county – at the former Crestview Hotel and a Foothill-De Anza Community College District teacher housing project in the city.
She was described by her peers as “extremely hardworking,” empathetic, compassionate and accessible.”
“You’ve represented yourself and the people of Mountain View so well over the past year,” Berman said.
Kamei said she is approaching 2022 with “cautious optimism and hope.”
Like Los Altos’, Mountain View’s mayoral position is largely ceremonial. City council members take one-year turns serving in the role, with the mayor running the council meetings.
The seven councilmembers are elected at large for four-year terms. Service on the council is limited to two consecutive full terms.
In January of each year, the council appoints one of its members as mayor and another as vice mayor.