MOUNTAIN VIEW – Margaret Abe-Koga, a former mayor and longtime councilwoman, is running to replace Santa Clara County Council Supervisor Joe Simitian as the two politicians change gears a year before they leave their current positions.
Abe-Koga announced the start of his campaign during a Lunar New Year celebration hosted by California Representative Evan Low over the weekend to a crowd of about 600, pledging to bring his governing experience to the county council. She is the front-runner in what is expected to be a close race for the supervisor position, which is likely to see other northern county leaders throwing their hats into the ring.
Abe-Koga has served on the Mountain View city council since 2007, as well as several other regional and city councils and committees. She believes her extensive local government experience representing Mountain View makes her the best candidate to replace Simitian on the county’s governing body.
“I think the county is a good continuation of the work I was able to do in Mountain View,” said Abe-Koga. “I’m leaving my seat on the board next year and he’s leaving his, while I’ve definitely enjoyed my 16 years on the board and I’m proud of the work, I really love the work and making a difference. that’s what I want to continue doing on the board.”
Born to Japanese immigrant parents who settled in Mountain View, Abe-Koga has deep ties to the community. She was born at Stanford Hospital and grew up in the city she now represents. Her first foray into politics came when she served as a congressional aide to US Representative Anna Eshoo between 1993 and 1999, after graduating from Harvard University.
Prior to her election to the City Council, Margaret served on the city’s Human Relations Commission (HRC) from 2000 to 2004 and the Environmental Planning Commission from 2004 to 2006, while also serving as Area 1 Administrator of the City Council. Administration of Santa Clara County Education between 2002 and 2004. She has received endorsements from Simitian in the past.
In 2006, she was elected to the Mountain View city council and two years later served as deputy mayor before being chosen mayor in 2009, making her the first Asian-American woman to serve as such in the city’s 108-year history. Mountain View. She served as mayor again in 2020 at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Abe-Koga has also held numerous positions in the private and not-for-profit sectors, including as Manager of Government Affairs for Synopsys Corporation and as Manager of Foundations and Corporate Relations for Asian Americans for Community Engagement.
With more than a year to go before elections, Abe-Koga said “there is no downside to starting early”.
“It’s a tremendous effort, admittedly much bigger than a race for city council and I’m going to go all in and want to win,” she said.
Abe-Koga is campaigning on what some consider Mountain View’s solid record in combating homelessness and building housing amid the Bay Area’s current affordability crisis. She said the city has done a lot to address these issues, including creating secure parking for RV residents, and has set an example for other Peninsula cities with the number of projects approved for construction in recent years, as well as its neighborhood planning. long term. ideas that were imitated by other cities.
At the council, Abe-Koga resisted state efforts to influence city planning and prioritized quality of life, open spaces and parks, and the potential unintended consequences of development when considering housing projects in Mountain View. While she believes the city has already done a lot, she said there are “real challenges we’re dealing with right now.”
“We expect student growth in our schools, which has been an eye opener for me, because other places are seeing declines in schools,” said Abe-Koga. “But our school is projecting an increase in students in the near future.
“Finance mechanisms are also emerging to acquire more land to build more parks and open spaces, and how we will deal with parking if we get rid of it in the centers. Those 20 or 30 minute breaks in traffic are not enough. What are we going to do in the meantime, until we get to where we want to be? These are real issues, so we just need people to hear that too.”
The former mayor of Mountain View said she has seen how partnerships with the county have helped the city address issues such as homelessness, mental health, housing and climate change planning. She said Santa Clara County has been “one of the best counties” to handle the coronavirus pandemic and is doing a lot to address accessibility issues.
“I hope I can strengthen that and it takes a collaborative effort to address these big issues and having that perspective from the city can be helpful,” she said. “I appreciate the current chairman’s focus on youth and families, who speaks to me like a mother. I think I can really bring the experiences and best practices to the county and especially how to work with cities and work together to build more affordable units and provide needed services for the homeless.”
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