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Special District

Duplicate - Formerly City of Santa Clara CouncilCandidate for City Council

Photo of Kathy Watanabe

Kathy Watanabe

Appointed Councilmember
16,526 votes (47.95%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Ensure safe neighborhoods
  • Affordable housing
  • Development that encourages a mix of building types and uses



Profession:Councilmember and Legal Assistant
Legal Assistant, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (2000–current)
City Council, Seat 6, City of Santa Clara — Appointed position (2016–current)


Nassau Community College Business Administration (1980)
Katharine Gibbs Business School Advanced Certificate, Secretarial Science (1978)

Community Activities

President, Santa Clara Sister Cities (2013–2016)
Trustee, City of Santa Clara Board of Library Trustees (2008–2016)


I am a first-generation Irish-American born in Brooklyn, New York.  My parents moved back to Longford, Ireland when I was 5 years old.  I treasure that time as I started school there having to learn Gaelic as part of the curriculum.  I also learned a lot about my grandfather, Michael Francis Reynolds, who was an officer in the Irish War of Independence from 1917-1922.  Knowing what he did for the cause for freedom has influenced my life in many ways.   My parents came back to the United States in 1968.  We lived in New York where I attended school and eventually went to work in New York City - a wonderful melting pot of culture and diversity.  I've worked in the legal field for almost 40 years (yes, that is not a typo) and have had the honor of working with some well-known attorneys and clients.  After working in NYC for almost 10 years, I decided to test a line from Frank Sinatra's song, 'if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere...." and moved to Tampa, Florida.  I lived in Tampa for 15 years and worked for a sole practitioner specializing in eminent domain law.  We represented landowners whose properties were being taken for road developments along the I-4 corridor as well as many other roadways to accommodate growth.  I really enjoyed working with the landowners to make sure they received the fair share for their land or businesses.    I moved to Fremont, CA after Karl and I got married in 2000.  We moved to Rivermark in Santa Clara with our daughter in 2005 to cut down on our commute times from Fremont.  We never thought our lives would be as involved in this wonderful city as they are now.  Rivermark was a new community with lots of opportunity to get involved - and I did.    Over the last 11 years, I was an advocate for the Northside Library along with the community to finally finish the last piece of the Rivermark puzzle.  It took 7 years but in the end it was worth it knowing that over 20,000 patrons utilize the library on a monthly basis.  I also advocated and worked with the school district and community to purchase the Agnews property on Zanker Road to build a much needed new school complex.  The groundbreaking will finally be October 26!  I served on the Library Board of Trustees for 8 years along with the Library Foundation.  I have been a member of the Circle of Pillars for the Mission City Community Fund since 2007.  I have volunteered my time on every school parcel tax and bond measure to benefit our school district.  I am proud to have been a part of the team that finally passed a school parcel tax in 2012.  I also served as President of Santa Clara Sister Cities for 3 years and finished the deal to finally add Limerick, Ireland as a Sister City and also added Nagpur, India as a Friendship City.    When I was appointed to the City Council in March 2016, I felt I would now be able to take my community service to a new level.  Over the last 6 months, thanks to social media outlets like NextDoor, I have been able to get engaged with the North of Bayshore community and work on noise, traffic and illegal parking issues as a result of Levi's Stadium.  The North of Bayshore has never had representation on the City Council.  This is not a position I take lightly and one of the reasons I want to continue on the City Council to continue to be an advocate and voice for the North of Bayshore area.    I have a proven record of leadership and commitment to the City of Santa Clara and ask for your vote on November 8.  

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Senator Bob Wieckowski, 10th District
  • Assemblymember Kansen Chu, 25th District
  • Lisa Gillmor, Mayor, City of Santa Clara

Organizations (8)

  • Santa Clara Firefighters Association
  • Santa Clara Police Officers' Assocation
  • California Apartments Association
  • AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
  • DAWN (Democratic Activists for Women Now)
  • Public Safety Non-Sworn Employee's Association
  • Santa Clara County Democratic Party
  • South Bay Labor Council

Elected Officials (5)

  • Teresa O'Neill, Vice Mayor, City of Santa Clara
  • Will Kennedy, former Santa Clara City Councilmember
  • Councilmember Patrick Kolstad, City of Santa Clara
  • Councilmember Debi Davis, City of Santa Clara
  • Councilmember Dominic Caserta

Individuals (56)

  • Evelyn Chua, Candidate for Milpitas City Council
  • Richard Wang & Vivien Tong
  • Kirk Vartan, Founder of Win6 Village
  • Barbara Vance, former Santa Clara Library Board of Trustees
  • Steve Ricossa, Santa Clara Library Board of Trustees
  • Ro Khanna, Stanford Lecturer and former Deputy Secretary of Commerce
  • Anna Welsh, Candidate for SCUSD School Board
  • Michael Kwan, Rivermark HOA President
  • Clare Callejon, Santa Clara Schools Foundation (past President)
  • Don Callejon, Santa Clara Unified School District Superintendent (retired)
  • Robin Burdick, Secretary, Mission City Community Fund
  • Lee Broughman, Santa Clara Library Board of Trustees
  • Harbir Kaur Bhatia, Cultural Advisory Commission
  • Chuck Blair, Commissioner, Parks & Recreation
  • Fred Yoshida
  • Kayleigh Watanabe
  • Bob & Emily Yang
  • Carol Wada
  • Jim & Cathy VanPernis
  • Mike & Sue Speed
  • Richard & Connie Smart
  • Tino Silva
  • Beverly Silva
  • Dr. Joanne Samant
  • Dorothy Rosa
  • Tim & Yuki Romero
  • Mark Richardson
  • Peggy Burnett-Parkin
  • Michael Nooney
  • Bijay & Anjana Niraula
  • George & Joan Newcombe
  • Marwan & Lia Mukhar
  • Peter Wu & Maureen Medieros
  • Grant McCauley
  • Frank & Sherri Malloy
  • Mark & Diana Louie
  • Mei Ling
  • Frank & Ruth Lemmon
  • Jonathan & Stacey Lee
  • Peter Kuo
  • Kevin Krave
  • Leslie Kloes
  • Lineth Jezek
  • David Gillmor
  • Elizabeth Giordano Donnelly
  • Kevin Fox
  • Dr. Rosa Fini
  • John G. & Lorraine Figueira, Jr.
  • Scot & Vickie Fairchild
  • Lee & Mary Erickson
  • Peter & Maureen Chu
  • Christopher Chen & Andrea Yip
  • Peter & Paula Carolan
  • Kevin Carolan
  • Dave & Jan Bunting
  • Niloy Banerjee

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

When I first registered to vote in New York during the Reagan era, I registered as a Republican.  I found in each election that I more inclined to vote for Democratic candidates.  Thankfully, someone told me I could switch parties and I did and have been a voting Democrat since about 1986. 

However, it is discouraging to see what has happened to our political parties in the last few years.  As a country, we need to start to work together to move in the right direction.  We need to elect people who can help reach across the aisles and protect important issues like healthcare, women's rights, Social Security and education.  The future of our country needs a strong leader that will listen to the voters and pay attention and understand why a reality star/businessman gained so much support after not having a chance in the past.  Why is his message resonating with so many people now?  The same thing applies to local government.  We need to elect strong leaders who are listening to the voters and understand that people are paying attention.  There is so much information available to the public now as a result of social media, open government and transparency that people are holding the government accountable -- which is a good thing!  If your government is not listening to the voters, there needs to be change.  We need to start working together.  The past cannot be changed but the future is in our power. 

Videos (1)

— October 25, 2016 Watanabe for City Council 2016

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