Carol Klatt, a longtime public servant and former Daly City mayor, has retired after serving 21 years on the City Council.
During a recent council meeting and government reorganization ceremony, state Assemblyman Phil Ting joined Klatt's fellow council members in paying tribute to the veteran legislator for her decades of service to the community, which included five terms as mayor.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in the Midwest, Klatt moved to Daly City in 1964 with her husband, John. She initially worked as a stay-at-home mom, raising the couple's son and two daughters while her husband worked as an instructor at City College of San Francisco.
Klatt soon developed the urge to become a volunteer and neighborhood activist in her local community. She joined the Serramonte Homeowners Association, serving as president, and got involved with numerous civic organizations, including the Clean Community Committee, the Anti-Graffiti Committee, the Airport Community Roundtable, the Lions Club and the Mission Street Merchants Association.
Like many of Daly City's elected officials, Klatt credits the late former Mayor Al Teglia with inspiring her to become a public servant. She said it was her complaints to Teglia about the performance of the city's Parks and Recreation Department that prompted the revered civic leader to tell her, “If you don't like it, get off your butt and do something about it.”
This led to Klatt being appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission in 1991. She was then appointed to the City Council in 1993 to serve out the remainder of Councilwoman Jane Powell's term after her abrupt resignation. Klatt won her first council election in 1994 and retained her seat in subsequent elections to serve 21 uninterrupted years on the council.
According to Klatt, some of the biggest challenges she faced while on the council were the Avalon Canyon landslide, which necessitated the demolition of a church, and another incident in which 21 homes built along the San Andreas fault near Mussel Rock were red-tagged and declared uninhabitable.
Klatt said several of the affected homeowners were senior citizens, and watching them lose their homes was heartbreaking. “It was really kind of a bad time for the city,” Klatt recalled.
For Klatt, the single hardest decision as a councilwoman came just a few weeks ago, when she voted to keep Allied Waste as the city's sanitation provider, despite a staff recommendation to award the lucrative 15-year contract to Recology.
“I couldn't sleep nights because I was thinking about it,” Klatt said.
Moving forward, Klatt believes the biggest challenge the council will face is balancing the city's budget.
“Sacramento keeps taking money away from local governments, and you have to find creative ways to make up for it,” Klatt said. “You can only tax people so much before they're going to rebel. I would rebel.”
Councilman David Canepa — who was Daly City's mayor when Klatt retired — remarked that just as Teglia's years of tireless service had earned him the title “Mr. Daly City,” Klatt has earned the right to be called “Mrs. Daly City.”
Klatt says she and her husband are moving to Las Vegas to be closer to their son and she plans to carry on her habit of civic engagement in her new community. She says all the officers of her new neighborhood's homeowners association are men, and she hopes to change that.