Inga Miller, a third-generation Orindan who has served on its city council for more than six years, was sworn in as mayor Dec. 13, 2022. During her year-long term, she will work alongside vice mayor Darlene Gee and councilmembers Brandyn Iverson, Latika Malkani and Janet Riley — Orinda’s first all-female city council.
As mayor, Miller said her responsibilities include leading council meetings and advocating for Orinda at the state and county levels. But at its core, she sees her role as being a listener.
“We have 20,000 residents with great ideas,” she said. “We are here to listen to those ideas and figure out where most residents want to prioritize the city’s resources.”
Based on these conversations with constituents, Miller’s current priorities are to maximize the benefits of Measure R funds – a 1% sales tax used for wildfire prevention, emergency preparedness and other essential city services – and renovating Orinda’s downtown. She hopes the allure of new businesses, walkable common spaces and additional housing units in the downtown area will bring more foot traffic and dollars into the local economy.
Miller was first elected to the city council in 2016, serving as mayor from 2019 to 2020. At the end of her first mayorship, she was elected for another four-year term on the council. Over the years she has built strong relationships with community members.
Toris Jaeger, teacher and naturalist of the Wagner Ranch Nature Area in Orinda, knows Miller is ready to work.
“She rolls up her sleeves,” said Jaeger, who has helped preserve the Wagner Ranch Nature Area and has taught thousands of students about the environment for more than four decades.
Ethan Elkind, a resident who participated on the steering committee for OrindaVision – a community group in support of redesigning Orinda’s downtown – said Miller has a pulse on the needs of her community.
“Inga really puts herself out there in an impressive way to keep in touch with people and be responsive to what the folks here want and what they care about,” said Elkind.
Before councilmember status, Miller worked as a journalist and later earned a law degree. She partly attributes her success on the council to these experiences, along with her desire to give back to the city where she grew up.
After graduating from Miramonte High School, she studied at University of California, Santa Cruz, where she wrote for the college’s newspaper. Miller then reported for different publications, such as the Alameda News Group and the Modesto Bee from 1999 to 2008, learning the ins and outs of local politics.
Pivoting to law school because of the Great Recession, she received her Juris Doctor degree from Southwestern in 2010 and started practicing soon after, developing expertise in real estate transactions and land use. In addition to volunteering on Orinda’s city council, she runs her own law firm, Miller Property Law.
In 2011, she was appointed to the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, a responsibility she said she was eager to take on. Growing up, Miller’s grandfather would tell her stories about his career at the Department of the Interior, imbuing her with a life-long interest in nature and public green spaces. Being on the parks commission also gave her the chance to attend city council meetings. When vacant council seats in 2016 became available, her friends encouraged her to run.
In 2018, Amy Worth, Dennis Fay and Nick Kosla won the three open positions with Worth and Fay garnering the most votes. In turn, they served as Mayor of Orinda. In 2020, Miller and Gee were the top two contenders, with Gee in line to serve after Miller in December of this year. If history repeats itself, Malkani then Iverson will lead the City next.
Miller described campaigning as a special, “heart-warming” experience, where she knocked on doors, reconnected with old friends and met new people. She said she tapped into the city’s collaborative, congenial spirit, which would lead her to run again in 2020 and, once again, serve as mayor.
“Orindans are such community members, such neighbors. Everybody just wants to come and work together,” she said. “The constant is that community togetherness.”
Tristan Shaughnessy can be reached at email@example.com.
Annual State of the City Luncheon for Mayor Inga Miller
The Orinda Rotary’s annual “State of the City” luncheon is Wednesday, March 1 from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Orinda Mayor, Inga Miller, will give an update on projects and initiatives facing the community. Tickets are $25 per person, which covers lunch. Doors open at noon at the Orinda Community Center, Founders Auditorium, 28 Orinda Way. This event is open to all. For more information, contact Rotary President Rodney Lal at 925.366.8077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.