Race for water board faces runoff
Publication Date: Wednesday Oct 30, 1996

WATER DISTRICT: Race for water board faces runoff

Former Los Altos mayor and water policy analyst from Palo Alto compete for vacancy

by Peter Gauvin

The race for the Santa Clara Valley Water District's north county seat pits former Los Altos Mayor Marge Bruno against 32-year-old Greg Zlotnick, a state water policy analyst. lotnick was the top vote-getter in the March primary against Bruno and Los Altos resident Libby Lucas, a parks and natural resource activist. The final tally had Zlotnick with 41 percent, Bruno 33 percent and Lucas 26 percent, forcing a runoff between Zlotnick and Bruno.

Next Tuesday's winner will replace Jim Lenihan, who has served on the board for 28 years representing District 5, which stretches from Saratoga to Palo Alto.

Primary issues in the race include providing flood control on creeks without destroying their natural character and meeting future water supply needs. Because of continued growth, a shortage is predicted in 20 years.

Bruno emphasizes her experience as a policy maker on the Los Altos City Council and other boards and commissions. Zlotnick contends his experience in water policy issues is more important to the job.

Bruno is endorsed by the county chapter of the California League of Conservation Voters, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, District 5 Supervisor Dianne McKenna, the National Women's Political Caucus, and Midpeninsula Open Space District Director Mary Davey.

Zlotnick claims the endorsements of Trish Mulvey, former president of the Save San Francisco Bay Association; Nick Clinch, co-founder of the California League of Conservation Voters; local environmental activist Debbie Mytels; and Bill Evers, co-founder of California Planning and Conservation League.

Marge Bruno

Age: 63

Occupation: Financial consultant

Residence: Los Altos

Background: Bruno served on the Los Altos City Council for eight years and was mayor in 1988-89 and in 1993-94. She has been chair of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board and also served on the Santa Clara County Water Commission.

Where she stands: To increase water supply, Bruno favors conservation and reclaimed water projects before building new dams.

She also believes the district needs to be more involved in growth issues. "If you have rampant, unrestricted growth you're going to be placing much greater demands on your water, and you're going to be building on environmentally sensitive lands causing more flood control problems. We have to be very thoughtful about where new growth is going to go, and the district has to be much more pro-active in pointing out the long-term consequences of unbridled growth."

As far as how her experience compares with Zlotnick's, she said: "I think there is a real place for someone with a more comprehensive view of the issues facing this district, as well as understanding the technicalities of water transfers at the state level. I have a better handle on what solutions are going to be workable given the desires and attitudes of the electorate."

Greg Zlotnick

Age: 32

Residence: 4168 Wallis Court, Palo Alto Occupation: Assistant to the director of Water Resources, Department of Fish and Game, appointed by Gov. Wilson. He plans to resign if elected.

Background: Zlotnick founded the California Environmental Forum to promote environmentalism in the Republican Party. He served as the natural resources policy consultant to Assemblyman Jim Cunneen and program manager for the state Bay-Delta Oversight Council.

Where he stands: Zlotnick emphasizes his experience with water issues at the state level. "The water district board is a specialized office," he said, and is not tailored for a "generalist."

"When it comes to ensuring water supply for Santa Clara County, I have been working where the action is," he said.

He believes the water board has to become more active in reviewing growth issues. "The water district should not be bashful about telling local municipalities the impacts of large developments," he said.

Although a "fiscal conservative," he said he favors more environmentally sensitive measures for flood control projects, even if it costs a little more. "I feel the people of the 5th District are willing to pay for the benefits."

Zlotnick works in Sacramento and has an apartment there, but says his primary residence is Palo Alto, where he grew up. If elected, he plans to resign his state job, move back to Palo Alto and look for another job. (Water board members are paid $147 a day for a maximum of 10 days a month.)

Why would Zlotnick resign a full-time, salaried job to serve on the water board?

"I have 10 years of water policy experience, and I have an opportunity to serve my community, and I feel could make a big difference."

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