Karyl Matsumoto, then mayor of South San Francisco, speaks at the groundbreaking for the terminal on Oct. 2009.
Karyl Matsumoto, then mayor of South San Francisco, speaks at the groundbreaking for the South San Francisco Ferry Terminal at Oyster Point Marina on Oct. 19, 2009. (San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority)

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — After briefly withdrawing from the race, South San Francisco Mayor Pro Tem Karyl Matsumoto is back in campaign mode as the Nov. 5 election approaches.

First elected to the City Council in November 1997 and re-elected in November 2001, 2005 and 2009, Matsumoto served as mayor in 2000, 2004 and 2009. Her current term expires this month. She is only the second woman in South San Francisco’s history to serve on City Council.

She is also one of the few Japanese American women to have served as mayors in the Bay Area, the others being Margaret Abe-Koga of Mountain View, Naomi Patridge of Half Moon Bay, and the late Jewel Okawachi of Albany.

Currently serving in a four-year seat, Matsumoto, 70, said in August that she is running for a two-year council position “to provide greater stability during a time of executive-level retirements: city manager, assistant to the city manager, fire chief, and public works director.”

Her opponents on Tuesday are Planning Commissioner Carlos Martin and Collin Post, a mechanic and Army veteran.

At a Sept. 25 council meeting, Matsumoto announced that she was withdrawing from the race for personal reasons, although it was too late to take her name off the ballot.

At a candidate forum on Oct. 1, Matsumoto said she had changed her mind: “I’m here this evening as a fully running candidate … I’ve listened to the plethora of individuals explaining to me why I have to run. I intend to remain in this race, but will be taking some time off to attend to my 100-year-old mother.”

At the Manzanar camp during World War II, Lillian Matsumoto and her husband Harry oversaw Children’s Village, where all the Japanese American orphans and foster children were placed. Her adopted daughter Karyl was one of the more than 100 children there.

Karyl Matsumoto has lived in South San Francisco for 30 years. She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration and her career covers multiple work experiences in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. She has held various positions, including interim national director of the Japanese American Citizens League; district director for State Sen. Quentin Kopp; legislative aide to San Mateo County Supervisor Anna Eshoo; project manager for Hayden J. Lee Consultants; and product coordinator for PPG Industries.

She was recently appointed to the California Commission for Economic Development’s Biotechnology Advisory Committee. Her regional assignments include: chair, San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans); board member, San Mateo County Transit Authority and City/County Association of Governments; and member, C/CAG Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

Her council assignments, ad hoc and program committees include Housing, Kaiser Hospital, Facilities Naming, Day in the Park, Farmers Market, Improving Public Places, New Main Library, Echo Company Marines, Seniors, Skateboard Park, and Conference Authority.

Matsumoto’s community experience includes having served or been a member on over 30 civic and nonprofit boards, commissions and committees such as Notre Dame de Namur University’s Graduate School of Business Administration Advisory Committee, Peninsula YMCA, San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities, and National Association of Parliamentarians.

Diversified revenue streams to ensure quality city services and a fiscally responsible city government are her top priorities. She believes that financial, environmental and developmental sustainability are integral to South San Francisco’s vitality.

“I’ve worked to ensure we retain outstanding police, fire, public works, library, and recreation services,” Matsumoto said in a statement. “I helped double our parks and open space. I championed the creation of our Farmers Market and Sculpture Garden. I co-founded South San Francisco’s Community Outreach Program and Improving Public Places Committee. I advocated for fiscal accountability and responsive government. As the second councilwoman in our city’s 105-year history, I represent and promote diversity.

“Beyond my council duties, I serve on numerous regional boards such as SamTrans, San Mateo County Transportation Authority, and City/County Association of Governments. The value I bring to South San Francisco through these positions is obtaining millions of dollars in grant funding and other resources for South San Francisco. I am proud of the work you have empowered me to do for our community so that South San Francisco has a voice in San Mateo County.”

Endorsers include:


AFSCME Council 57

California Apartment Association Tri-County Division

San Mateo County Association of REALTORS

Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 104

Teamsters Local Union No. 856

Elected Officials

State Sen. Leland Yee

Assemblymember Kevin Mullin

San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine

South San Francisco Councilmember Rich Garbarino

South San Francisco Councilmember Pradeep Gupta

SSF School Board Trustee Judy Bush

SSF School Board Trustee Liza Normandy

SMC Harbor Commissioner Robert Bernardo

Colma Councilmember Helen Fisicaro

South San Francisco Planning Commissioners

Mary Guisti

Alex Khalfin

Rick Ochsenhirt

Eugene Sim

Alan Wong

Bill Zemke

South San Francisco Board Members and Commissioners

Jeannette Acosta/Personnel

Betty Battaglia/Parks and Recreation

Rudy Bertolozzi/Personnel

Lenita Boldenweck/Library

Pat Fitzpatrick/Library

Richard and Rose Guilbault/SamTrans

Francisca Larios Hansen/Library

Richard Holt/Parks and Recreation

Diane Huddleston/Library

Jim Maguire/Conference Authority

Flor Nicolas/Conference Authority

Bruce Tognetti/Conference Authority

Robert Turnberg/Library

Ray Yoschak/Conference Authority

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