Saratoga mayor Emily Lo discusses background
Saratoga’s mayor Emily Lo was inaugurated into office in December. She has held multiple leadership positions in the past, including the Santa Clara County Library District Joint Powers Authority and the Cities Association of Santa Clara County. Originally from Hong Kong, Lo ran her own promotional products business prior to becoming mayor. She has two children who both graduated from Saratoga High.
You came from Hong Kong. How have your experiences in a foreign nation shaped your perceptions and ideals?
I grew up in Hong Kong at a time when it was a British Colony and a melting pot of the East and West. It allowed me to gain exposure to a multi-cultural environment. I was educated in a high school run by American missionaries (Maryknoll Sisters), with whom I learned and practiced American values in an Asian setting.
When attending the University of Hong Kong, I was elected to be president of the Hong Kong Chapter of a worldwide student association called AIESEC (International Association of Students in Economics and Commercial Sciences). I enjoyed the diverse experience and carried that to my PTA Co-Presidency, where I recalled organizing a Mahjong Day for the school community, featuring different game rules played in different countries!). I still believe that globalization, not isolation, is what propels us forward.
You ran a promotional products business. Could you elaborate on what the business is and the kind of things sold?
Promotional products are products with logos, usually for marketing or team building purposes. Commonly seen are apparel, caps, mugs, bags, pens and technology accessories. It is a blend of creativity and practicality. It also requires understanding of the product and, above all, your customers.
What made you initially get into doing things like City Council or serving on various boards?
I like to give back to the community and make a difference. Saratoga is unique in that it has a strong, engaging community. I strive to reinforce that spirit and help new residents assimilate into our community. "Small but beautiful" is what I like to describe our city. I would like to see Saratoga continue to be a great place to live and raise families. Our residents are very generous when it comes to giving back. Our local organizations, churches and schools are always ready to step up when societal needs arise. It's a community I am proud of.
What were your primary goals going into your mayorship?
Crime prevention has always been a subject of discussion in our community. City Council will continue its effort to provide crime prevention forums and strengthen the network of neighborhood watch groups in Saratoga. The City also provide grants to support Neighborhood Watch group activities.
In addition, for the first time, a citizen task force called "Public Safety Task Force" was formed with the objective of crime prevention in the community. We will continue to work closely with the Sheriff's Dept.to make Saratoga one of the safest city in California.
2. Build a community.
These three simple words actually encompass many things. Saratoga is a City which embraces diversity, inclusion, and equality. Everyone in the community will be respected equally, regardless of their age, ethnic, social, and religious background. Starting end of March, the City sponsored a monthly "Living Room Conversation," an event which serves to enhance understanding and build relationships, to allow people with fundamental differences of background to understand, work together, and treat each other with respect.
The city will continue to support programs that help to strengthen community pride. To provide community enrichment, a Public Art Task Force has been set up to introduce public arts in public areas. Saratoga has received numerous awards in "America in Bloom" competition, a nationwide competition which recognizes cities in its success in community-building and beautification. We will continue our efforts this year.
Being an "Age-friendly City", Saratoga will participate in pilot programs that address senior transportation.
3. Fostering an engaged and involved community.
Uphold government transparency is an ongoing objective of the City Council. Multiple tools are used to inform and engage the community. In addition to the increased use of social media, printed media like newspaper (including the Falcon Newspaper), magazine, and community TV (KSAR 15) will continue to be used as channels of communication.
To speak of community engagement, members of the public are invited to attend our State of the City Address on April 15, from 2-4 pm at the Civic Theater. In addition to presentations on the city's priorities and services, there will also be awards, performances, information booths, food and refreshment to celebrate our city.
4. Upgrade infrastructure
The city will continue to improve local roadways, maintain trails and parks, and improve safety and access for pedestrians and vehicles in the city.
April 30: Saratoga Music Booster's Pancake Breakfast
June 8: Graduation