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Meet Sara

2022 McDowell Headshot.jpg

My Background

I grew up in Northern California and hold a Bachelor of Arts Degree from U.C. Davis and a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from The George Washington University. My professional career began in the private sector working for import/export companies. In 2003, I was accepted into the prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program in Washington, D.C. where I joined the U.S. Federal Government as a civil servant. I led implementation of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement for the U.S. Department of Commerce and worked closely with business leaders to address trade barriers in Latin America. My work in the federal government taught me how to effectively navigate bureaucracy, build coalitions, and achieve results that address the needs of everyday people. 

My Work in San Carlos

After seven years in Washington, D.C. my husband, Greg, and I returned to the Bay Area to raise our two children, now ages 13 and 16. We moved to San Carlos in 2010 and I took on various leadership roles as a community volunteer. I served as a Commissioner for the San Carlos Economic Development Advisory Commission (EDAC), a Board member of the San Carlos Education Foundation and the San Carlos Parks and Recreation Foundation, a PTA fundraiser, and a member of the San Carlos Day of Service Committee.


It has been my great honor to serve on the City Council since 2018, including this year as Mayor.

Accomplishments as a City Councilmember

  • Spearheaded the Shop Local campaign to support small businesses during Covid-19 pandemic

  • Facilitated grants for childcare providers

  • Expanded the parklet program and pedestrianized a block of Laurel Street

  • Provided food and rental assistance to those in need

  • Prioritized Safe Routes to School improvements, including reducing the speed limit to 15 mph around school zones

  • Addressed the need for affordable, high-quality childcare by reducing fees and streamlining the permit process for new facilities

  • Upgraded parks with new turf at Highlands Park, new lights at Burton and Highlands Parks, and a new track at Crestview Park

  • Advocated for more workforce housing

  • Approved a Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Plan

  • Priortized mental health by spearheading the San Mateo County Mayors Mental Health Initiative. Secured funding from the County Board of Supervisors to roll out Mental Health First Aid trainings in San Carlos. Created a Mental Health Community Resource Guide mailed to all residents.

Community Leadership

  • Chair of the Board of Directors – San Mateo County Libraries Board of Directors (current)

  • Board Member – San Mateo County Housing Endowment and Regional Trust (current)

  • Board Member – Peninsula Congestion Relief Allaince/ (current)

  • Board Member – San Mateo County Pre-Hospital Emergency Medical Services Group (current)

  • Member – San Mateo County Education and Childcare Committee Recovery Initiative (current)

  • Member – San Mateo County Educator and Workforce Housing Task Force (current)

  • Member – Build Up San Mateo County Advisory Board (current)

  • Commissioner & Chair - San Carlos Economic Development Advisory Commission (past)

  • Board Member – San Carlos Education Foundation (past)

  • Board Member – San Carlos Parks and Recreation Foundation (past)

  • Brittan Acres PTA Walk-A-Jog Co-Chair (past)

  • San Carlos Day of Service – Committee Member (past)

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