Women to outnumber men 4-1 on county board of supervisors

After November’s general election, women will outnumber men 4-1 on Santa Clara County’s Board of Supervisors for the first time.

Forty years ago, an unprecedented number of women took leadership roles in Santa Clara County and San Jose. For the first time, the board of supervisors was dominated by women 3-2 in 1980.

But over the following decades, men eventually outnumbered women on the board again. In 2013, there were no women on the board at all — until former Supervisor George Shirakawa pleaded guilty to perjury and abuse of public funds, resulting in a board vacancy which Supervisor Cindy Chavez filled in a special election.

In recent years, Supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Sylvia Arenas have joined Chavez in forming a narrow majority over their two male colleagues, Supervisors Otto Lee and Joe Simitian.

The top candidates to succeed outgoing supervisors Simitian and Chavez this November are all women.

For Chavez’s seat in District 2, the race is between former San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen and Chavez’s chief of staff, Betty Duong — a race that could add another layer of history making as the county has never seen a Vietnamese American supervisor. Duong leads Nguyen 14,017 to 12,784.

For Simitian’s seat in District 5, the race is between Mountain View Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga and Sally Lieber, chair of the State Board of Equalization. Abe-Koga is likely the winner of the seat, pulling in 37,130 votes to 21,542 for Lieber.

Abe-Koga said she grew up on the story of the county’s 1980s wave of women governance.

“One of the main reasons I ran for Mountain View City Council in the first place was this issue of whether the city should build a low-income childcare facility and it was teetering on the edge. When I looked at the council at the time, there was one woman and no one who had children in schools and I realized that was a missing voice,” Abe-Koga said.


  1. A couple of years ago, Los Altos tried an all-female council. It didn’t go well. Frequent cat fights. Councilwoman Nyesa Fligor literally cried when she didn’t get some committee appointment. And don’t get me started on Lynette Lee Eng. Decisions were based on emotions and feelings, not facts.

  2. Guarantee there’s going to be at least two emotional ‘men’ on here making thinly veiled sexist comments about women, because they’re upset that these women were voted into those positions by the will of their constituents. To throw a tantrum over a woman being elected into a position of power at their big age is both comical and embarrassing.

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