Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thank you!! We've done it!

We posted the message below to the main page of the campaign website:

Thank you!!

After all this time, it's hard to believe that we're here. I'm so very glad to tell you that, barring some last minute strange returns, we've won, and due to your efforts I will be the District 7 Director for the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

So thank you all for voting, for helping, and for all that you did. This was a group effort in the best sense of the word, with different people rising up at different times to seize the opportunity of pushing the campaign forward. The fact that there are too many people to thank is the reason why we've won.

We've won despite our decision to severely limit the size and influence of individual campaign contributions, by voluntarily setting a maximum donation by individuals at $250. We won despite that, because of everyone's work on the ground, and we're now set to bring real campaign financing reform to the Water District in time for its next election.

We will be able to fix the District governance, and work to improve its mission. There's so much I want to do, in addition to cleaning up mercury contamination, keeping development away from streams, and putting environmental restoration on an equal footing with the flood control and water supply. I want to thank everyone who's helped and above all, everyone who voted to make this happen. And I very much appreciate my opponent, Los Altos City Council Member Lou Becker, for his thoughtful and civil campaign.

Now the work begins. Onward!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This is it! Thank you everyone, and please vote!

Hoping for the best! As we wait for the returns, I just want to thank everyone for the tremendous amount of support and enthusiasm during this race.

The Registrar of Voters has information on where to drop off vote-by-mail ballots (too late now to mail them) and a link for how to find your polling place if you vote at the polls.

Let's keep our fingers crossed on local, statewide, and national results.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Why I hope to earn your vote for the Water District election

Tomorrow is Election Day, and I thank every voter reading this for taking the extra step of researching this election by coming to my campaign website and blog. This post explains why I think my campaign has been endorsed by the Mercury News, the Mountain View Voice, super-majorities of the Mountain View City Council (five of seven members) and Palo Alto council (eight of nine), and majorities of the County Board of Supervisors and Los Altos Hills City Council. And from the County Democratic Party, the Sierra Club, County League of Conservation Voters, and community members, businesses, and unions, with the endorsements found here.

I have been involved with water issues and other civic issues for over fourteen years since I moved to our area to study environmental law at Stanford. As an environmental lawyer with a special interest in water, I have worked to protect our water resources and for safe and environmentally-sound flood control. Working for over seven years as the Santa Clara County Advocate for Committee for Green Foothills, over six years at the Water District's Environmental Advisory Committee, and at the District's Performance Audit Committee, I have seen helped get the right work done but see the possibility to do more.

The Water District is a solid organization with trouble at its Board of Directors, with inadequate democracy and inadequate citizen involvement. I propose evening meetings so working citizens can attend and serve as Directors. I would remove artificial restrictions on citizen advisory and oversight committees, letting them operate more like similar city and county committees in being able to set agendas and offer recommendations. I would support reasonable and meaningful term limits - while Measure C deserves support, it doesn't go far enough because it isn't retroactive, and I'm pledging to serve no more than two terms regardless of Measure C's success.

Fixing these problems will help us address core issues for the Water District. I believe we can do much more to address mercury contamination in what is one of the worst, if not the worst-contaminated county in the state. We can champion state efforts to get any company bringing mercury into the state to either retrieve all their mercury or help our existing mercury cleanup efforts. We can do more to ensure cities are following policies to keep new development away from streams. We can specifically work on maintaining recent progress to address flooding along San Francisquito Creek, and to start addressing the major problem of protecting our cities from sea-level and Bay-level rise that will result from climate change.

We can do this all while controlling costs. I've called for cutting Water District Director compensation by over 50%, to more closely match City Council compensation. I've been calling for close examination over Water District involvement over the economically and environmentally risky proposals to dredge a port in Alviso. I'm the only candidate who's observed that emergency boat evacuation could possibly be done more cheaply from Moffett, or that the money might be better spent for disaster preparation in totally different ways.

Finally, the effort shown in my campaign mirrors the effort I would bring if elected. The Brian For Water campaign website is by far the most detailed. This is the only campaign blog, a place where we can provide details about new ideas, and we have the only Facebook campaign page in this race, detailing outreach to the community. The extensive outreach door-to-door, at farmers markets, at Caltrain stations and elsewhere, are also chances to interact with community where we are the only ones doing so in this race. I have attended the last three Water District Board meetings before the election and have been the only candidate there.

I'm eager to put the experience and the new energy I can provide by serving at the Water District Board, and I thank you for considering this opportunity to do great things to protect our water supply, to provide safe and environmentally-sound flood control, and to take significant steps to protect our streams and watersheds.

-Brian Schmidt

Stopping incumbent protection through limited public funding of Water District elections

Like water recycling, I've talked about this idea a few times at public events and so I wanted to make sure to get the idea out on the blog. While I've been very hesitant to propose any increase in spending for the District, my proposal to cut Director compensation by over 50% would easily pay for limited public funding of Water District elections. We need some real reform at the level of the District Board, and this is an important way to level the playing field between incumbents and challengers.

The idea is to budget $25,000 annually for the elections. Since elections occur only ever other year, that would leave $50,000 available for an election. All candidates could get matching funds for the first $50 of a contribution by an individual to that candidate (someone donating a large amount only gets $50 matched, another equalizing element), up to a total maximum amount per candidate. Even if this program had $10,000 in administrative costs, it would still leave a reasonable chunk of money to match small contributions. And my proposal to cut Director compensation from over $30,000 annually per Director to less than half would more than compensate for this cost.

I do have to emphasize this is a just a general idea, and if the details prove it unworkable, then so be it. I think it could work though, and it could be an important part of democratic reform at the District Board.