March 16, 2020 Sue Lempert weekly column, San Mateo Daily Journal
Meet Lisa Diaz Nash. She will be running for a seat on the San Mateo City Council this November. She applied for the open one-year seat, vacated by former council member Maureen Freschet last year, but the council on a split vote appointed Amourence Lee, who will also be running this November. So will Planning Commissioner John Ebneter and incumbent Diane Papan.
If you haven't run into Nash, then you don't get around much. It seems she is on every committee in town. She is vice chair of the San Mateo Library Board, Vice Chair of the Measure S Oversight Committee and a director on the city's Neighborhood Watch Board, San Mateo Rotary Haciendas Inc. and the Baywood Owners Improvement Association. She is also co-captain of the Peninsula chapter of the Sister District Project working to engage voters in state legislative races across the county. When I interviewed her she had just rushed back from the first meeting of a Special Events taskforce.
Nash is 61 years young and moved to the county in 1991 when she and her husband built a house in the Emerald Hills neighborhood of Redwood city (but county land). She and her husband both worked at Visa headquartered near State Route 92 and the College of San Mateo at the time.
He is president of the United Homeowners Association, a powerful political group in the city representing all of the homeowner groups. And the Diaz in their name comes from his partial Cuban heritage.
Nash grew up in Englewood, New Jersey, went to private school there, then on to Swarthmore where she majored in political science. After college she headed to China and Taiwan to learn Mandarin. She started out as a tour guide in China then was hired as a marketing executive by American Express in Hong Kong. That is where she met her future husband who also worked for American Express. Subsequently their jobs took them to Seoul and then to Sydney, Australia where the first of their two daughters was born.
The couple was recruited by Visa when they returned to the United States.
Nash has a full resume of professional experience but she says the most important job was the one with American Express. It taught her how to do marketing and financial services or as she puts it, “I got a business school education without going to business school.”
She and her husband moved to San Mateo in 1991. She lives in the same Baywood neighborhood as Papan while two other council members live in the adjacent Aragon neighborhood. San Mateo, thank goodness, does not have district elections, and she sees herself as other council members do, as representing residents wherever they live in the city. She hasn’t made her mind up on either growth initiative coming up soon, Measure P and one to keep its limits except near transit centers where higher heights and densities might be allowed without a public benefit. She wants to keep neighborhoods as they are but likes the idea of more flexibility by transit centers and still likes the public benefit for more affordable housing. She will soon have to make a choice like the rest of us.