On March 5, exactly one year ahead of the 2024 primary, Mountain View City Council member Margaret Abe-Koga announced her plans to run for the District 5 seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors next year. But it's not the first time Abe-Koga has thrown her hat in the ring for this office.
She first announced her intention to run for county supervisor back in 2012, but ended up withdrawing and throwing her support behind Joe Simitian, who would go on to win and serve District 5 for more than a decade.
With Simitian's seat set to open up next year — he's reached the number of consecutive terms he's allowed to serve — Abe-Koga said she sees it as the perfect opportunity to try again. And this time, with more than an extra decade of experience under her belt.
"The years of experience have definitely made me more seasoned," Abe-Koga said in an interview. "I was mayor for the first time during the Great Recession in 2009, and then 2020 when we went into sheltering in place. So I can say that I've been through some major crises, challenges and have been able to lead the community through that."
As a daughter of working-class immigrants, a mother, a breast cancer survivor and a former small business owner, Abe-Koga said her experiences give her unique insight into what it's like to raise a family, navigate the health care system and make a living in Santa Clara County.
"The county really can provide those services that assist all the folks and the businesses, and so that very much ties into who I am, and is really the foundation for what I think I could provide in terms of leadership at the county," she said.
In addition to being a member of the Mountain View City Council, Abe-Koga serves on five regional boards, experience she wants to bring to the county Board of Supervisors. On the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Abe-Koga represents the cities of Santa Clara County. On the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, she represents the city of Mountain View. She also serves as a member of the Valley Transportation Authority board of directors, the president of the Cities Association of Santa Clara County and a member of the Silicon Valley Clean Energy Board.
"I serve on many of these boards with county supervisors from the nine counties of the Bay Area, so I've been able to do a part of the work that they do, and I've been able to work on the issues that I think are the critical issues for our region and our county — climate change being the first and foremost," Abe-Koga said.
Particularly through her work on the Air Quality Management District and Silicon Valley Clean Energy, Abe-Koga said she's already working on some most pressing issues facing the environment: the impacts of extreme weather patterns, drought and wildfires, as well as protecting the region's clean air, water and energy.
A bit closer to home, Abe-Koga said her time on Mountain View City Council has shaped how she approaches issues like housing and homelessness. But many of the lessons she's learned during her tenure on the council also apply regionally, Abe-Koga said.
"Seeing that these issues are not city specific, they are regional, I think the county will provide that opportunity to collaborate across the county," she said. "That's what I would like to work on, is just to strengthen the partnership between the county and the various communities."
While the 2024 election season is still a ways away, Abe-Koga said it's never too early to announce one's candidacy, especially for an office that covers so many distinct communities. She said she looks forward to getting to know folks in each of the cities included in District 5 over the coming year.
"I will continue to be responsive to the residents, because I know that they are the ones who put the trust in me to make the decisions that we need to make to move forward," Abe-Koga said. "Accessibility will continue to be a focal point."
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