Three weeks after the Nov. 2 election, Emily Murase — the executive director of the city’s Department on the Status of Women — overcame an election night deficit to win a seat on the San Francisco Board of Education. The win makes her the first elected Japanese American woman in the city’s history.
The final results show incumbent Hydra Mendoza in first with 102,173 votes or 21.4 percent and incumbent Kim-Shree Maufas in second at 69,173 votes or 14.49 percent. Murase finished third with 68,853 votes or 14.42 percent, with Margaret Brodkin coming in fourth with 67,790 votes or 14.2 percent, just missing the cut as the top three vote-getters were elected.
“I am very pleased to report that, following my swearing-in ceremony in early January, not only will I become the first Japanese American school board commissioner, I will become the first Japanese American woman ever to be elected in all of San Francisco!” said an ecstatic Murase in a Nov. 23 e-mail to supporters.
“I want to especially recognize the other school board candidates, whom I came to know well on the campaign trail,” added Murase. “Every single one of these tenacious, dedicated individuals had something very special to offer to the school district and I hope that they will continue to contribute their ideas and energy to improving our public school system. I look forward to partnering with them.”
Murase looked toward the future.
“San Francisco has a truly diverse public education system with unique strengths and challenges,” she told supporters. “I will need everyone’s continued support and ideas on how to make it even better.”
A product of San Francisco public schools, Murase and husband Neal Taniguchi have two daughters in the district’s Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program (JBBP) at Rosa Parks Elementary School, across from the city’s Japantown.
According to the biography on her Website, Murase oversees a $3.5 million budget at the Department on the Status of Women and a professional staff of five “to promote the human rights of the women and girls of San Francisco.” Previously, she served in the first Clinton White House as director for International Economic Affairs (1993-1994), after working for AT&T Japan in Tokyo, and later worked in the International Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission.
Murase holds an AB in modern Japanese history from Bryn Mawr College, a master’s from the Graduate School of International Relations & Pacific Studies at UC San Diego, and a Ph.D. in communication from Stanford.