Rafu Staff Report

Following are updated results for Japanese American candidates who ran in Bay Area elections on Nov. 8.

San Francisco

District Attorney: Nearly a week after incumbent Brooke Jenkins declared victory, her main challenger, former Police Commissioner John Hamasaki, conceded on Nov. 16. Under the ranked-choice voting system, Jenkins had 125,546 first-choice votes (46.01%) to Hamasaki’s 101,901 (37.34%). The other two candidates were Joe Alioto Veronese with 33,628 (12.32%) and Maurice Chenier with 11,816 (4.33%). With the elimination of the third- and fourth-place finishers, Jenkins’ lead grew to 54% to Hamasaki’s 46%.

John Hamasaki

“Well, it’s been a hell of a ride, but time to call this one. I am beyond honored to have been supported by such an incredible group of staff, supporters, and voters,” Hamasaki tweeted. “We started this campaign 88 days before the election, when the community asked us to stand up for San Francisco.

“Over 115,000 San Franciscans voted for change, for a new way of doing things in the criminal justice system. We came within 7.9% of victory, on a shoestring budget, without the dark money, corporate media, or establishment support. Hard not to feel proud of San Francisco …

“Ultimately, this campaign gave me a lot of hope for San Francisco. While the right has been trying to tear down S.F., our supporters build it up, showing the power of love for the city. Today is a beautiful day here, tomorrow will be even brighter. I love this city.”

San Mateo County

Anthony Tsujisaka

Jefferson Elementary School District Governing Board: In a four-way race for three seats, the top finishers were educator Anthony Tsujisaka with 10,743 (31.83%), incumbent Shakeel Ali with 9,261 (27.44%) and nonprofit development director Aaron Rashba with 8,267 (24.49%). The district serves the communities of Daly City, Colma, Broadmoor and part of Pacifica.

Tsujisaka has been working in education since 2017, starting as a high school math teacher in South San Francisco. In the spring of 2021, he transitioned from teaching to vice principal at Fernando Rivera Middle School. Last spring, he relocated from JESD to become a vice principal at Burlingame Intermediate School.

Peter Ohtaki

Menlo Park City Council: Mayor Betsy Nash was ahead of former Councilmember Peter Ohtaki, 1,673 (61.35%) to 1,054 (38.65%). Ohtaki was on the City Council from 2010 to 2018, serving twice as mayor. Earlier this year, he was a Republican candidate in the 16th Congressional District, finishing third in a field of eight candidates running against Democratic incumbent Anna Eshoo. He also ran in Assembly District 24 in 2016 and 2020.

In his latest campaign, Ohtaki pledged to “take back our neighborhoods,” fix city staffing issues, address traffic congestion and climate change, and restore public safety. Endorsers included former mayors Catherine Carlton, Ray Mueller and Rich Cline.

Yuko Shima

Cupertino City Council: In an eight-way race for three seats, the top finishers were former Fine Arts Commissioner and Library Commissioner Sheila Mohan with 8,325 (17.21%), attorney J.R. Fruen with 7,692 (15.90%) and incumbent Liangfang Chao with 7,947 (16.43%). Yuko Shima, founder of a nonprofit environmental organization called World Support, was in seventh place with 2,276 (4.70%).

In an interview with El Estoque, Shima said that her priorities included increasing housing, making recycling more accessible, and bike parking with solar panels.

Santa Clara County

Ellen Kamei

Mountain View City Council: In a five-way race for three seats, the top finishers were incumbents Ellen Kamei with 15,330 (27.46%), Alison Hicks with 15,027 (26.92%) and Lucas Ramirez with 14,706 (26.34%). The daughter of a first-generation Chinese and Puerto Rican American mother and a third-generation Japanese American father who was born at the Heart Mountain camp in Wyoming, Kamei served on the Mountain View Environmental Planning Commission before being elected in 2018 to the City Council. Her colleagues elected her vice mayor in 2020 and mayor in 2021.

“Thank you, Mountain View!” Kamei tweeted on Election Day. “With 94.4% of precincts reporting, we have secured another term on the City Council. So much gratitude and appreciation to the residents of Mountain View.”

In her campaign statement, Kamei said, “Many milestones have been reached. Beyond COVID-19 relief, we have worked on adopting a goal confirming Mountain View’s commitment to diversity and inclusion – to ‘promote strategies to protect vulnerable populations and preserve the socioeconomic and cultural diversity of the community.’ I firmly believe that Mountain View’s diversity is our strength, contributing to making our city a wonderful place to live. We have also worked hard to address our sustainability and resiliency goals to combat climate change and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Kamei is one of two Japanese Americans on the council. The other is Margaret Abe-Koga, who has also served as mayor.

Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto

Fremont Union High School District Governing Board: In a five-way race for three seats, the top finishers were incumbent Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto with 39,595 (29.29%), incumbent Rosa Kim with 33,234 (24.58%) and educator and engineer Stanley Kou with 31,376 (23.21%). Nakano-Matsumoto, who is currently president of the board, was first elected in 2018. She has served on the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women and is an active member of Mountain View Buddhist Temple. The district includes five comprehensive high schools: Cupertino, Fremont, Homestead, Lynbrook and Monta Vista.

“I’m honored by our community’s trust to continue my service for FUHSD!” Nakano-Matsumoto said via Facebook.

According to her campaign website, “As trustee, she has kept her commitment to keep FUHSD a beacon of equity and excellence. As board president, she led the new superintendent search; reviewed and assessed our contracting principals and policies; and developed enhanced partnerships with our feeder school districts, city governments and community organizations.”

Marin County

Sharon Nakatani

Mill Valley School District Governing Board: In a five-way race for three seats, the top finishers were architect Sharon Nakatani with 9,968 (29.53%), former finance professional Yunhee Yoo with 8,165 (24.19%) and former human resources professional Natalie Katz with 7,782 (23.06%). All three are school parents. This is the first time that any person of color has been elected to the school board. Nakatani had the support of The Marin Independent Journal, Marin Democratic Party and Mill Valley Teachers Association. The district covers five elementary schools — Old Mill, Strawberry Point, Edna Maguire, Tam Valley and Park — and Mill Valley Middle School.

A fourth-generation Japanese American, Nakatani is the daughter of a kindergarten teacher and an electrical engineer. Her maternal great-grandfathers helped start the Japanese Hospital and The Rafu Shimpo in Los Angeles. During World War II, her maternal side of the family was placed in the Rohwer camp in Arkansas and her paternal side fled to Colorado. Nakatani attended public schools in Torrance and graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. After a year abroad studying architecture in Denmark, she moved to San Francisco and joined the firm of Esherick Homsey Dodge and Davis, where she became an associate.

“I strongly believe in great public schools,” she said in her campaign statement. “My mother was a public school teacher. I went through public schools my entire life, and my kids have gone through MVSD’s public schools. As a mother, former PTA board member and Almonte resident, I want to share my lived experiences with our school district, especially at this time.”

Alameda County

John Anthony Miki

Albany City Council: In a five-way race for two seats, the top finishers were urban designer and licensed architect John Anthony Miki with 2,136 (29.99%) and real estate agent Jennifer Hansen-Romero with 1,811 (25.43%). Miki, who served on the Traffic and Safety Commission, said his priorities were “increasing safety on our streets for all,” supporting local business, and housing for current and future Albany residents. Endorsers included Sierra Club, Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County, League of Conservation Voters, Alameda County Democratic Party, and Green Party of Alameda County.

David Kakishiba

Oakland School Director, District 2: Veteran educator Jennifer Brouhard was well ahead of David Kakishiba, 7,459 (50.01%) to 4,988 (33.45%). Kakishiba, who is executive director of East Bay Asian Youth Center, served on the board of the Oakland Unified School District from 2005 to 2013 and finished third in the District 3 race for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors earlier this year. He said he decided to run for school board again because he saw a lack of urgency from the current board to improve learning outcomes for students. The district encompasses Crocker Highlands, Cleveland Heights, Eastlake, Chinatown, San Antonio, and other neighborhoods.

“Thank you so much for everything you have done for this school board campaign, and for caring about our students,” Kakishiba said in a message to his supporters. “We ran a spirited campaign, and presented a unique and concrete plan for improving student learning outcomes … I will continue to work hard every day fighting to improve the lives of Oakland’s young people — without a doubt. I hope you, too, will continue to be active in creating a healthy future for Oakland.”

Scott Sakakihara

Union City City Council, District 4: Planning Commissioner Scott Sakakihara was well ahead of accountant and nonprofit director Vipan Bajwa, 3,027 (52.83%) to 1,791 (37.17%). Sakakihara, who is also an attorney and a Navy reservist who was deployed in the Middle East, served as an intern in the office of Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and the Obama White House.

According to his campaign website, “Scott is a fourth-generation Japanese American and all four of his grandparents were in internment camps during World War II. Even though his grandparents had to start back at the bottom after the war, they were able to create a better future for their families because of our diversity, opportunity, and resilience. Scott is proud to serve our country because he knows that while we have many imperfections and there’s much progress left to be made, we must continue to strive to live up to our ideals.”

Lance Nishihira

Bay Area Rapid Transit Director, District 6: Incumbent Liz Ames was ahead of software engineer Lance Nishihira, 39,615 (47.66%) to 26,909 (32.37%). Nishihira, a New Haven Unified School District trustee, was endorsed by BART’s largest union and five directors. His goals included improving the train riding experience and reducing the cost to ride transit. The district includes Fremont, Union City and South Hayward.

“I stopped solo commuting in 2005 and have become quite a transit enthusiast,” Nishihira said during the campaign. “Before COVID, I commuted every work day using transit. I have true empathy for our constituency because I am a rider myself. I think this sets me apart from my opponent.”

Contra Costa County

Laura Nakamura

Concord City Council, District 5: Cardiac sonographer Laura Nakamura was ahead of incumbent Tim McGallian, 4,909 (56.06%) to 3,847 (43.94%). Nakamura, who is active at St Bonaventure Catholic Community, said in her campaign statement, “I have lived in Concord since 1988. I raised two children here. I’m drawn to public service and advocacy because I want Concord to be supportive of families today, whether working or retired, newer arrivals, or Concord born and bred. I want neighbors to work together to build a compassionate, vibrant, engaging Concord. That can happen when neighbors look out for each other. And it can happen when civic leadership shares the vision of prioritizing residents, especially the most vulnerable among us.”

Cameron Sasai

Pinole City Council: In a seven-way race for three seats, the top finishers were small business owner Cameron Sasai with 3,313 (19.38%), incumbent Anthony Tave with 3,155 (19.03%) and incumbent Norma Martinez-Rubin with 2,605 (15.71%). “Raised in Pinole by a proud Filipina immigrant mother and a Japanese American father, my mission has been shaped by values of advocacy, resiliency, equity, and social justice,” Sasai said in his campaign statement. “As a lifelong resident of this city, I have a deep connection to my community and understand how Pinole has evolved over the course of decades. I currently serve as a board member of the Rotary Club of Pinole and an Interact advisor to the student leaders at Pinole Valley High School … I am a community advocate who actively pushes for policies that can make our city a safer and more inclusive place to live.”

Noting that his father’s parents and grandparents were incarcerated at Tule Lake and Jerome during World War II, Sasai said, “My work and community service are rooted in my family’s struggle and sacrifices.”

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