Rental Housing Committee member Emily Ann Ramos was appointed to fill Mountain View City Council’s vacant seat at last Monday’s special council meeting. She will be officially sworn in at the council’s Feb. 14 meeting.
The seat was vacated after former councilmember Sally Lieber resigned from the council in December; Lieber cited that her election to the California State Board of Equalization created a potential conflict of interest. The council voted to fill the seat by appointment on Jan. 5, and narrowed down the applicant pool from 10 residents to five at a Jan. 24 meeting. The fifth applicant, former councilmember Michael Kasperzak, withdrew his application before Monday. At Monday’s meeting the council interviewed the final four applicants, who each had 30 minutes to answer pre-determined questions.
After the interviews the council held a discussion, before each councilmember voted for their two preferred applicants. All but councilmember Lisa Matichak voted for Ramos, granting her five votes. Environmental Planning Commissioner Chris Clark garnered four votes, Parks and Recreation Commission member Ronit Bryant received two votes and Performing Arts Committee member John McAlister got one vote. All finalists aside from Ramos had previously served on council as mayor.
Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga initially said she wanted to appoint someone who has served on council before, because they would have community support.
However, after 41 of the 48 community members who spoke during public comment at the meeting showed support for Ramos, Abe-Koga said she changed her mind in favor of Ramos.
“This is an opportunity to give someone new a chance,” Abe-Koga said at the meeting.
“[Ramos] is one of the most hardworking people I have ever met,” said Erin Chazer, president of the Peninsula Young Democrats, at the meeting. “She’s been a leader on housing, she’s been a leader in racial equity and she’s been a leader on being an ambassador for the great city of Mountain View.”
Community activist Alex Brown commended Ramos on the compassion, care and devotion she’s shown to Mountain View residents as a Rental Housing Committee member, and noted her willingness to be “part of a community.”
“She’s one of the best people I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside,” Brown said at the meeting. “Emily has been there for the mobile home community the whole time when we sought protections. … She was there fighting alongside us to protect vulnerable residents in the city.”
During the interview process, Ramos said her top three priorities as councilmember would be to preserve Mountain View’s Displacement Response Strategy, help middle-income residents afford housing in Mountain View and to develop a Parks and Recreation plan. The response strategy would provide affordable housing by ensuring rent-stabilized units, or properties with minimally increasing rent — an issue she’s well-familiarized with from serving on the city’s Rental Housing Committee.
“We’re in the midst of a housing crisis, and Mountain View has taken really incredible steps forward,” Ramos said at the meeting. “But the work isn’t done yet. We have, in recent years, faced several strategies of demolition of naturally affordable rental units and families being displaced.”
To improve residents’ quality of life, Ramos also said she’ll prioritize planting street trees evenly throughout Mountain View by updating and reviewing the city’s Urban Forestry Plan’s guiding policies and ordinances.
“[Trees] aren’t only nice to look at … but they also reduce heat island effect,” Ramos said. “I’m interested in ensuring that these trees are equitably distributed, that you have a good [and] equitable canopy throughout our city.”