Following a tightly-contested vote Tuesday, San Mateo City Council appointed Amourence Lee to fill the council seat that became vacant on Oct. 30 following the resignation of former Deputy Mayor Maureen Freschet.
Lee will serve the remainder of Freschet’s four-year term, which ends Dec. 7, 2020. In November next year, voters will decide who will serve on the seat in the next four-year term.
At Tuesday’s special meeting, all council members described the applicants to fill Freschet’s seat — which included John Ebneter, Ellen Mallory, Brian Kelly, Lisa Diaz Nash, Robert G. Newsom and Lee — as qualified for the role.
The first council vote was split 2-2, with Mayor Diane Papan and Eric Rodriguez choosing Mallory and Rick Bonilla and Joe Goethals choosing Lee. In a subsequent vote, Papan selected Lee, breaking the stalemate.
“The competition was stiff,” said Papan. “Each of the applicants is a force of nature.”
Papan said Mallory, a longtime community advocate who is vice chair of Planning Commission, chair of the General Plan Subcommittee, and three-time chair of the Park & Rec Commission, would contribute to a smooth transition on council until the November 2020 election.
Councilmembers Rick Bonilla and Joe Goethals chose Lee not just for her experience but also because she represents an underrepresented North Central, where she’s highly active on the neighborhood council. A San Mateo resident for the last 10 years, Lee currently serves as vice chair of both the General Plan Subcommittee and Parks & Recreation Commission and is also known for spearheading the Love North Central Campaign that cleans up city streets.
While Mallory and the other candidates have great experience, Lee offers diversity on the council, according to Bonilla and Goethals.
“All of us live north of 92 and west of the railroad tracks,” said Goethals about existing council members. While Mallory is just as qualified, appointing Lee sends a message that voices from all parts of the community will be included, he added.
Lee is the co-founder of social enterprise startup Parents Clubs on Board in 2013, which was swiftly acquired by Care.com, and has also been a nonprofit executive. She’s currently a stay-at-home parent with two kids in the San Mateo-Foster City School District.