New mayor, members take seats on MV council

John Norikane / City of Mountain View
New Mountain View City Council members Lucas Ramirez, from left, Ellen Kamei and Alison Hicks take the oath of office Jan. 8.

Last week’s Mountain View City Council meeting marked a major changing of the guard – three newly elected members on the seven-member board were sworn in, while the new council appointed a new mayor and vice mayor. 

The Jan. 8 ceremonial meeting was an opportunity for goodbyes from three outgoing council members while allowing incoming members to offer introductions. Ken Rosenberg, who did not seek a second term, and Lenny Siegel and Pat Showalter, who lost bids for re-election, all cited progress the city has made in several key areas on their watch.

Newcomers Ellen Kamei, Lucas Ramirez and Alison Hicks, who finished first, second and third, respectively, in the Nov. 6 election, took their council seats for the first time. Their first action was aligning with the rest of the council to appoint Lisa Matichak as mayor and Margaret Abe-Koga as vice mayor.

Departing council members cited their accomplishments and goals.

Showalter noted that Mountain View addressed its housing shortage head-on by adding 2,500 new units over the past four years.

“Let’s get the Stevens Creek Trail extended to Mountain View High School,” she offered as a future goal.

Rosenberg said he was proud of Mountain View’s designation as a “human rights city,” setting “minimum standards for people to live with dignity.”

According to Siegel, serving on the council was one of “the most rewarding experiences” of his life. Among the accomplishments of his tenure, he cited the overhaul of the business-license tax, approved by voters in November, which will bring in $6 million annually to city coffers.

New blood

Kamei, Ramirez and Hicks used their introductory statements to thank friends, family and supporters.

“The story of my family started here in Mountain View over 70 years ago, and this is the next chapter of our family story,” said Kamei, who previously served on the city’s Planning Commission with Ramirez.

Kamei said she came from a family of field workers with Japanese, Chinese and Puerto Rican backgrounds. She sees the city as a place for a middle-class, ethnically diverse populace, “and I want it to continue to be so.”

Ramirez stressed the need for communication.

“Please don’t be afraid to reach out,” he told residents. “I want to hear what you have to say. … Hold me accountable.”

Hicks, who has a background in urban planning, spoke of the need for Mountain View to collaborate with neighboring communities to solve housing and transportation problems regionally.

“To truly solve these problems, we need to speak to every city in the county,” she said.

Assuming her role as mayor for 2019, Matichak said her two years on the council thus far “have been very productive, but also very challenging at times. Each of us is one of seven, and it takes four of us to get anything done.”

Among her 2019 goals, Matichak challenged the city to be more proactive “when it comes to pushing back on state and federal efforts to pre-empt local control.”

Matichak also plans to address quality-of-life issues, including cyclist and pedestrian safety, airplane noise and public health issues arising from people living in their vehicles.

Departing council members offered advice to the newcomers.

“Vote your values, not how peers want you to vote,” Rosenberg said.

Showalter issued a call for continued civility.

“We’ve conducted business with a great deal of civility,” she said. “I was shocked that not everybody does it that way. (Civility) creates an atmosphere where people are willing to talk about their ideas. It makes a big, big difference.”

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