Otto spent his childhood in Hong Kong. At the age of 15, his family made the hard decision to immigrate to California due to rising political upheaval. Like many immigrant families, his parents made drastic career changes in order to provide for the family. While his father was an attorney in Hong Kong, he became a restaurant owner in America. They taught him the value of hard work and service. As a result of their sacrifices, Otto was able to attend and graduate from University of California, Berkeley with a B.S. in Chemical and Nuclear Engineering and then earn his law degree from UC Hastings.
Following in the footsteps of his grandfather who served in the US Navy during WWII, Otto acted on the dedication to service that his family taught him and joined the U.S. Navy. He first served active duty during the Gulf War onboard a Guided-missile Cruiser as the Ship’s Treasurer and Disbursing Officer balancing the ship’s payroll, while overseeing 45 sailors in the Supply Department including the ship’s store, laundry, barber shop, and the galley serving three meals a day for all 450 sailors onboard. He then served for two decades in the Navy Reserves, until he was recalled for active duty in Iraq.
In 2008, Otto received orders for a one-year deployment to Baghdad. He served as the Chief of Drawdown Logistics Policy at the Multi-National Forces Iraq Headquarters, where he helped plan and execute the largest drawdown of troops since Vietnam, bringing over 150,000 troops safely home and closing over 200 bases throughout Iraq. During that time he narrowly missed multiple mortar and IED attacks, and delivered medics to tend the wounded after one of his close calls. After the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs was bombed, he led a large convoy to deliver large refurbished electric generators to keep the Foreign Ministry running at that most critical moment. For this yearlong service, he was awarded the Bronze Star. Last year, Otto retired from the Navy and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his 28 years of honorable service.
Community and Public Service
When Otto first moved to Sunnyvale over 25 years ago, he immediately became an active member of the community, working to solve our challenges. He served on the Sunnyvale Planning Commission and was then elected to serve on the Sunnyvale City Council from 2003 to 2011, including one term as Mayor. He achieved real results on pressing issues and was a leader on environmental causes. He passed the city’s single-use plastic bag ban, installing solar panels on city buildings, encouraged commercial development projects to build with higher green LEED standards and helped raise awareness on climate change.
Otto is also a small-business owner, he is the co-founder of an intellectual property law firm in San José, where he has served as lead attorney for more than twenty years. Otto and his wife, Sally, reside in Sunnyvale with their three young daughters.
In November 2020, Otto Lee was overwhelmingly elected to be the new Supervisor for District 3 which includes North Sunnyvale, Milpitas, and the Alviso, Berryessa, East Foothills, Evergreen and Rosemary Gardens neighborhoods of San José.