Peninsula Leader Peter Ohtaki Pursues Open Eshoo Congressional Seat

By Roger Riffenburgh

Peter Ohtaki’s race for Congress in the Peninsula’s 16th District was given a boost recently when Representative Anna Eshoo announced her retirement.  A crisis manager and former mayor of Menlo Park, Ohtaki had already started running before Eshoo’s announcement.

As the nation faces security threats abroad and economic threats at home from inflation and overspending, Peter Ohtaki’s experience in homeland security and financial management would be valuable in Congress.  His security experience includes his current job as Vice President of Enterprise Incident Management at a major bank.  He leads emergency planning for disasters, physical attacks, and cyber attacks, working with public-private teams to prepare in advance and respond effectively.  He co-chaired development of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan update under the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.  Previously, he worked as Executive Director of the California Resiliency Alliance to bring  businesses and government together to improve disaster resiliency statewide.

Ohtaki is also well prepared in economics and finance.  He earned his BA in Economics, magna cum laude, from Harvard University and his MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.  From 1994 to 2005 he was the Chief Financial Officer and co-founder of a tech start-up.  Under his leadership of the Menlo Park fire district board, the district paid off much of its $13 million pension obligation, saving millions in interest.  On the Menlo Park City Council he became known as the “number guy” and successfully worked out a compromise to balance the city’s budget.

Ohtaki criticizes the polarization in Congress: “Congress is broken, and we deserve better. Career politicians toe their party line and dare not risk reaching across the aisle. Partisan gridlock rules, so major issues go unsolved. Most Americans are in the sensible middle yet have no voice in Congress.”

“Voting for a career politician will only continue gridlock in Congress.”  Notably, the three best known Democrats in the race are all career politicians who have been in office for many years.  In contrast, Peter Ohtaki has government experience in volunteer or part-time jobs, while working in the private sector at the same time.

Congressional District 16 roughly includes communities around Palo Alto (Atherton, Menlo Park, Woodside, Mountain View, Los Altos, etc.), some communities near Campbell (Los Gatos, Saratoga, and the Willow Glen, Cambrian, and Fairgrounds sections of San Jose), plus the entire San Mateo County coast, from Pacifica to the Santa Cruz County line (see the map).

Peter Ohtaki grew up in Menlo Park.  Asked about his parents, he related, “My father served in the US Army’s Military Intelligence Service (MIS) after the Manzanar internment camp during World War II. My mother started one of the few woman-owned businesses in Salt Lake City.”  Peter graduated from Woodside High School.

Peter and his wife have three teenagers in local public schools.  In his spare time, Peter enjoys cheering on the 49ers and Stanford football teams, and teaching his three kids to ski.  You can learn more about Peter on his campaign website,

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