Editorial: Abe-Koga, Gutierrez, Matichak, Showalter for Mountain View City Council

After years of growth, COVID-19 has put Mountain View at a crossroads. The struggling economy has taken a toll on small businesses and left some residents struggling to keep a roof over their heads. The city has risen to the occasion, providing small business and rent relief (more than 60% of the city’s households are renters). But how this Los Altos neighbor emerges from the pandemic is anybody’s guess.

Now more than ever, residents need proven leadership. That’s why we’re going with the two incumbents, Margaret Abe-Koga and Lisa Matichak, former councilwoman Pat Showalter and current Mountain View-Whisman School District trustee Jose Gutierrez. Nine candidates in total are vying for those four seats.

Abe-Koga and Matichak offer moderate voices, balancing progressiveness with pragmatism. Matichak is a good listener and has a talent for bringing focus to complex issues. She has more than 10 years’ experience dealing with the predominant subject of land use as a member of the council and the city’s environmental planning commission.

Abe-Koga is the longest-served member of the council. Her first two terms were 2007-2015. She was mayor in 2009 at the height of the last recession. Re-elected in 2016, she has provided steady leadership as mayor during this new crisis. Abe-Koga has the institutional knowledge that can benefit the many newcomers on council and city staff, including first-year City Manager Kimbra McCarthy.

Gutierrez is part of a school board that has rebounded from dysfunction five years ago to improve conditions for teachers and students. We see him as a consensus builder and a welcome representative of the city’s working class.

Showalter, edged out in her 2018 bid for re-election, has a handle on the intricacies of city projects thanks to her experience as a civil engineer. She embraces liberal issues, but has the wisdom of someone who is older and lacks the stridency of some of her opponents.

Although we are not endorsing him this time around, we also are impressed with Alex Nunez. Passionate and smart, we see him as a future leader. A few years of service on a city commission or two will surely benefit him in taking the next step.

We believe Abe-Koga, Gutierrez, Matichak and Showalter are the best choices to lead Mountain View through its next difficult stage.

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