MOUNTAIN VIEW — Margaret Abe-Koga was returned to the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 8 election.
The winners in the eight-way race for four seats were Planning Commissioner Lisa Matichak with 12,012 (15.84 percent), Abe-Koga with 11,871 (15.66 percent), incumbent Chris Clark with 11,005 (14.51 percent) and incumbent John McAlister with 10,779 (14.22 percent).
Also running were Human Relations Commissioner Lucas Ramirez, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Thida Cornes, Mountain View Whisman School Board member Greg Coladonato and Cisco Systems manager Ken “Kacey” Carpenter.
Abe-Koga was elected to the City Council in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. She served as vice mayor in 2008 and as mayor in 2009, becoming the first Asian American woman to serve in those posts in the city’s history. She was termed out in 2014.
“Although I know there are ballots still to be counted, I think it’s safe to say that I have received the opportunity to return to the Mountain View City Council,” Abe-Koga said in a message to her supporters on Nov. 9 “Thank you so much to everyone who came out to support and help make the campaign a success! And congratulations to all of the others who were elected last night especially Laura Blakely and Jose Gutierrez of the MVW School Board, who I teamed up with this campaign season.
“In all honesty, I have mixed emotions right now due to the national results. I don’t know how much we will be able to count on the federal government to work with us locally to address our major issues with a new administration. But Mountain View has always been progressive, and we have come to learn that sometimes we need to fend for ourselves.
“So I am excited to get back and roll up my sleeves to work with our community to come up with creative and thoughtful solutions to our challenges as I do believe, we are #strongertogether. Thank you again to everyone for your support. I am filled with humility and gratitude.”
Abe-Koga has stated that her top three priorities are to: “maintain a strong city budget and administration to be able to provide top notch city services and infrastructure; promote a toolbox of innovative approaches locally, and partner with neighboring cities, the county, and state to address affordable housing regionally; pursue multi-modal transportation options to alleviate traffic congestion and improve safety.”
From left: Emily Murase, San Francisco Board of Education; former Assemblymember Mariko Yamada; Yoriko Kishimoto, former mayor of Palo Alto; Mountain View City Councilmember-elect Margaret Abe-Koga; South San Francisco City Councilmember Karyl Matsumoto; and Aimee Sueko Ng, Oakland Board of Education.
In a Facebook post on Nov. 16, Abe-Koga wrote: “Just what I needed: yesterday I had a chance to be a part of a panel on ‘Japanese American Women Electeds’ as part of the U.S. Japan Council Annual Conference. It was so empowering to be amongst these rockstar women and pioneers — Emily Murase, the first JA elected in S.F., who serves on the Board of Ed; Karyl Matsumoto, first Asian American to be elected to South San Francisco City Council and my former supervisor when I interned for then [San Mateo] County Supervisor Anna Eshoo; Yoriko Kishimoto, first Asian American elected to the Palo Alto City Council; rising star Aimee Sueko Eng from Oakland School Board; and powerhouse former State Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada. And I’m excited to be bringing gender balance and color back to the MV City Council! We are JA women, hear us roar!!!”
Abe-Koga began her elected office service as trustee for Area 1 on the Santa Clara County Board of Education in 2002.
She represented Mountain View on regional bodies, including the Santa Clara County Cities Association (serving as president and vice president), Silicon Valley Regional Interoperability Agency, Santa Clara County Emergency Operational Area Council, and Santa Clara County Local Agency Formation Commission.
Abe-Koga served on the Valley Transportation Authority Board of Directors and chaired the board in 2011. She led the agency to financial solvency through the economic downturn and worked to maintain and continue progress on capital projects like the BART extension, light rail improvements and the Bus Rapid Transit system. She also served on the VTA’s Policy Advisory Committee and the Levi’s Stadium Transit Program Task Force.
In 2012, Abe-Koga was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to serve on the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board, overseeing water quality issues in the Bay Area.
In addition to elected service, she serves on the boards of Community Health Awareness Council in Mountain View, Charities Housing (a nonprofit affordable housing developer), League of Conservation Voters, and Carbon-Free Mountain View.
Born at Stanford Hospital and raised in San Mateo by immigrant parents from Japan, Abe-Koga earned her bachelor’s degree in government at Harvard University in 1992. She serves as associate director of the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute (APALI) at De Anza College and also owned and ran an indoor cycling fitness facility. Her more recent work experience includes serving as foundation and corporate relations manager for Asian Americans for Community Involvement. In 2015, she was district director for Assemblymember Evan Low of the 28th District, and currently works for Synopsys Corporation as a government affairs manager.
Abe-Koga and her husband Yotto have two daughters, Aili and Aina.