Mountain View Voice

News - November 25, 2011

Schmidt quits day job for water board post

by Chris Kenrick

A locally elected water board member has quit his day job with an environmental organization, citing, in part, "a little more conflict than I'd anticipated."

Mountain View resident Brian Schmidt, elected last year to represent northern Santa Clara County on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board, said the overlap between his board work and his job at the Committee for Green Foothills had caused him some frustration.

The conflict between the two roles contributed, in part, to his decision to resign from the Committee for Green Foothills after nine years, Schmidt said.

He cited two issues in particular — a county-wide habitat plan and a possible 2012 election that will ask water-district voters to extend a parcel tax for watershed restoration and flood control.

Schmidt has recused himself from water-district participation on the habitat plan because the Committee for Green Foothills is involved in it.

In the case of the tax, "the Committee for Green Foothills has not been involved with that, by agreement with the committee, so I'd be free to be involved with it at the water district.

"In either case, there's a cost to it," Schmidt said.

"It's not a financial cost, but in the case of the habitat plan I can't contribute at the water district, and in the case of the special tax, the Committee for Green Foothills can't contribute its involvement."

A larger reason for his decision, Schmidt said, is that "I've just been at the Committee for awhile, and it's time to move on. I've really enjoyed working there."

Schmidt said his replacement at the Committee by Alice Chang-Kaufman represents "an important local environmental group successfully managing a staff transition."

As for his own future, Schmidt said he is interested in climate change issues, "but also is just open to trying something different, to figure out an interesting way to make a difference."

Schmidt, a lawyer, has lived in the area since 1996 when he arrived to attend Stanford Law School.

He defeated Los Altos City Council member Lou Becker in last year's water-board race for a seat representing Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Monte Sereno and Los Gatos.

The district is responsible for oversight, construction and maintenance of various water-related structures, facilities, trails and other projects in the county.

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