Gary Kremen, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and founder of the dating site Match.com, has entered the race for the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Competing with incumbent Brian Schmidt, Kremen is running for a seat to represent District 7, which includes the cities of Mountain View and Los Altos.
Kremen is the current president of the Purissima Hills Water District Board of Directors, which serves 6,400 residents in Los Altos Hills. Kremen has served on the board for nearly four years.
In his bio page on the Purissima Hills district website, Kremen is described as an "entrepreneur, an inventor and a thought leader." He says he invented the idea of online dating back in 1993 and wrote the original business plan.
Kremen said he is also a clean-tech entrepreneur and engineer. In 2006 he founded Clean Power Finance, which provides financial services and software for the solar industry.
Kremen said his background prepared him for a spot on the water district board because he's able to understand and handle complex engineering issues, which he said is essential in understanding how water is moved.
During his time on the Purissima Hills board, that district completed the multi-year, multi-million dollar Neary Tank Utilization Project, which upgraded the water supply network throughout Los Altos Hills. The project replaced the existing, aging water distribution system, according to the district website.
As a businessman, Kremen said he is also "well-acquainted with fiscal responsibility." Kremen opposed rate hikes in favor of cost-cutting to balance the Purissima Hills water district's budget. In 2012, he wrote an open letter to district staff stating that the board needs to consider more ways to reduce costs, and rate hikes should be seen as a last-ditch effort.
He advocated a reduction in salaries for some Purissima Hills water district staff positions, refinancing debt and leasing out unused or underused property.
Kremen said the current board members of the Santa Clara Valley Water District are not doing enough to deal with the drought, including current incumbent Brian Schmidt.
"Schmidt is very nice, but our job is to protect the water," Kremen said.
Kremen said the district is still running advertisements on buses warning about floods amidst the intense drought, which he said is a sign that the current board is not taking the drought seriously.
Kremen also criticized the amount of money the district spends, especially on big projects.
"They waste an insane amount of money, way beyond the pale," Kremen said.
Kremen mentioned that the water district also mishandled the proposed flood plan that would have built a flood detention basin at the Cuesta Park Annex in Mountain View. The flood basin was eventually pulled from the plan due to public outcry.