Brian Schmidt is aiming for a second term on the Santa Clara Valley Water District board. Emphasizing the importance of water conservation going into the third year of the drought, Schmidt said he wants to keep up the pace on the district board if he is re-elected in November.
The board's current vice chair, Schmidt represents the awkwardly drawn District 7, which includes Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Gatos. Though water district board members can run for three four-year terms, Schmidt said he vowed to run for only two terms back in 2010, and that he's going to keep his promise if he is re-elected this November.
During his first term, the board passed a 2012 property tax measure with what Schmidt called a record-breaking 74 percent approval by voters. Schmidt said he rallied environmental groups to support the tax measure and helped bolster the high public approval -- a change from the board's 2000 property tax measure, which garnered less than 67 percent of the vote and passed by a thin margin.
The 2012 tax measure includes $24 million in funding for the shoreline protection and wetland restoration project, which includes fixing and replacing inadequate levees to prevent flooding along Shoreline Park. The area is at around sea level, according to Schmidt, and sea level rise poses a threat with the existing levees.
Schmidt said the tax measure will also jump start work on San Francisquito Creek, on the border between Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, to protect thousands of homes and businesses from a 100-year flood. The creek overflowed in 1998 and flooded 11,000 acres and 1,100 homes, causing $28 million in damage, according to the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority.
During his tenure, Schmidt made the motion to change the water district board's meeting time from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., which he said would make the board more accessible to the public, and increase attendance and participation.
"With night meetings, people with day jobs can attend board meetings or even serve on the board," Schmidt said.
The vote to change meeting times narrowly passed 4-3.
Schmidt said in his first term he worked to reduce wasteful spending during the "planning and design" phase of projects, and also supported a cut to board members' pay, reversing a 2008 pay increase prior to his taking office. The proposed pay cut was shot down the first time it came to a vote, and passed on a second vote, 4-3.
In light of the severe drought, Schmidt said he wants to bolster efforts to educate the public on water conservation, and believes the $500-a-day fines authorized by the state for wasting water are more than just a symbolic move.
"They're going to have an effect," Schmidt said. "People are going to be persuaded to waste less water."
Schmidt said he supports water conservation rebates, including an increase on rebate rates. He said the number of people willing to participate in water conservation, through things like the Landscape Rebate Program, increased by 500 percent in recent years.
In 2010, Schmidt was endorsed by five Mountain View City Council members and eight Palo Alto City Council members. He defeated former Los Altos Council member Lou Becker with 56.8 percent of the vote.
Gary Kremen, the current president of the Purissima Hills Water District and founder of Match.com, has also announced his intent to run for the District 7 seat on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board.