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MOUNTAIN VIEW — For the first time in its history, the Mountain View city council is made up almost entirely of women and holds a progressive majority after years of more conservative and slow-growth leadership.

With a majority of the seats on the city council up this past November, voters faced an ideologically split candidate pool divided on the city’s hot-button issues of housing, RV and car dwellers, rent control, policing and economic recovery from the pandemic.

Former Vice Mayor Ellen Kamei was chosen by her newly sworn in council colleagues to lead the city as mayor, replacing council member Margaret Abe-Koga. Her ascension to the city’s top role from second-in-command is part of a general tradition to pick the former vice mayor to be mayor.

Nominated by Lisa Matichak, who was vice mayor, councilman Lucas Ramirez was unanimously chosen to replace her after four years on the city council.

Lucas Ramirez, Vice Mayor of Mountain View 

After nine people ran for an open seat, voters in November tapped Abe-Koga, former California Assembly speaker Sally Lieber, Matichak and former councilwoman Pat Showalter to lead the city.

With Chris Clark and John McAlister termed out and replaced with Showalter and Lieber, the city council’s make up is among the most progressive in the city’s history with a majority claiming support for rent control, more affordable housing projects, increasing parking options for RV and vehicle dwellers and using government as a safety net for the city’s most vulnerable.

The daughter of a Japanese father detained in an American internment camp in Wyoming and a Puerto Rican-Chinese mother from New York City, Kamei has been a key ally of progressives on the council since her election in 2018.

Kamei said during her remarks that she’d like to keep Mountain View as the welcoming place that she grew up in. She said she’ll focus her leadership on the economic recovery and shoring up renters — who make up about 60% of Mountain View’s population.

“Top of my mind is the state eviction moratorium,” she said. “We have legislators who share our common goals of keeping people housed and we want to keep Mountain View a welcoming place. The pandemic has brought hardships for everyone coupled with so much uncertainty. I’m moved by the compassion of our neighbors.”

Ramirez thanked outgoing council members Clark and McAlister for their service during his remarks and lamented the fact that he is the only man left on the council as it deprived the city of a “truly historic council” of all women.

“I regret being the obstacle to that somewhat,” he said “But the voters have the opportunity to get that done in 2022.”

With the reorganization complete, the city council adjourned their meeting on Tuesday in memory of Judy Moss, Mountain View’s first female council member and mayor who served two terms from 1972 to 1980 who died two weeks ago.

“The call to end systemic racism and to stand up against injustices is not over,” Kamei said after her remarks on Moss. “I am committed to progress in this city and protecting all residents from various backgrounds.  I feel renewed hope in 2021 because of our community, the road ahead is still long but I am heartened by what we can get done and the change we can bring together.”

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Former IOC Vice President Says UN Could Rule on Tokyo Games

SYDNEY (AP) — Kevan Gosper, a former International Olympic Committee vice president, is suggesting the United Nations might be the place to decide the fate of the postponed Tokyo Olympics.

The Olympics are to open on July 23 but face mounting opposition at home as COVID-19 cases surge in Tokyo, across Japan and across the globe.

Tokyo and other parts of Japan are under emergency orders with about 4,200 deaths in the country attributed to COVID-19.

Gosper, still an honorary IOC member, made the suggestion to Australia’s national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“If you were looking for a third party that recognizes that this has gone beyond being an issue just related to sport, or just related to national interest, by virtue of the global COVID (pandemic) and its impact then their could be a case to go the United Nations and seek their involvement in arbitrating whether the games go ahead or not,” Gosper told the ABC’s “The Ticket” program.

The IOC and local organizers have said the Olympics cannot be postponed again. They will be canceled this time if they can’t be held.

“We’ve done this before in the IOC, we’ve gone to the United Nations to give us assistance,” Gosper said. “Because we are talking about something that potentially is going to involve representatives from 205 countries.”

Gosper did not indicate he had contacted the United Nations, and it’s not clear the body would enter into what is an intense political issue in Japan.

Japan has invested a reported $25 billion to organize the Olympics, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has repeated that the games will take place.

National pride is also at stake, with China set to hold the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, six month after the Summer Games in Tokyo are to close.

The IOC has seen its income flow stalled by the postponement. The Switzerland-based sports body gets 73% of its income from TV rights, and another 18% from sponsors.

Tokyo organizers say they have many “countermeasures” to fight COVID-19 and hold the Olympics, but they have offered no concrete plans. They have promised more details in the northern hemisphere spring.

About 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes will have to enter Japan, along with tens of thousands of officials, judges, VIPs, media and broadcasters.

It is unclear if fans from abroad will be allowed, or if Japan-based fans will be permitted to attend events.

One key date will be March 25 when the torch relay is to start in Japan. It will involve 10,000 runners across the country. Many see this as a deadline for deciding to go forward or to cancel.

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