Ellen and Rosemary Kamei

SAN JOSE — Tuesday will be a special day for Rosemary Kamei and her daughter, Ellen Kamei.

Rosemary will be sworn in as a member of the San Jose City Council and Ellen will be sworn in for her second term on the Mountain View City Council.

In the June primary for San Jose City Council District 1, Rosemary won outright with 9,935 votes (65.7%), defeating San Jose Downtown Foundation President Ramona Arellano Snyder (3,906, 25.8%) and paratransit operator Tim Gildersleeve (1,275, 8.4%). The Mercury News endorsed Kamei as “the best choice for San Jose City Council.”

Formerly a trustee of the Santa Clara County Board of Education, Kamei succeeds Vice Mayor Chappie Jones, who was termed out. She has also served on the Morgan Hill Planning Commission and the board of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

The council district includes the Winchester neighborhoods, Santana Row and the Westgate area. It shares borders with Campbell, Cupertino, Santa Clara and Saratoga.

Kamei is of Chinese and Puerto Rican ancestry; her husband Tom is a Japanese American who was born in the Heart Mountain camp in Wyoming during World War II.

Ellen was first elected to the Mountain View City Council in 2018. She served as vice mayor in 2020 and was elected by her colleagues to succeed Margaret Abe-Koga as mayor in 2021.

Last November, Kamei was the top vote-getter among five candidates for three seats on the council with 15,347 (27.46%), followed by incumbent Alison Hicks (15,040, 26.91%), incumbent Lucas Ramirez (14,725, 26.34%), Tesla tax manager Li Zhang (6,678, 11.95%) and Tesla engineer Justin Cohen (4,105, 7.34%).

Kamei was previously a member of the Mountain View Environmental Planning Commission, where she served as vice chair in 2014 and chair in 2015. She has also been district director for Assemblymember Marc Berman, policy aide to Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, and congressional aide to Reps. Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren.

She is multilingual, having learned to speak Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin.

“My paternal grandparents met in Mountain View and my grandfather later owned his own small business as a flower grower, passing that tradition on to my father,” Kamei said on her website. “The nursery was first located in Mountain View and I would spend many days with them at their home in Waverly Park, planting the seeds for my roots in the city.

“These childhood experiences brought me back to Mountain View when my grandparents fell ill. They have both since passed away, but I have been fortunate enough to be able to stay and make my home here as well. Now, I live near the Whisman neighborhood with my husband, our newborn son, and our dog.”

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