As Santa Clara County’s vote count continues to climb in the November 8th midterm elections, one contest has finally been won. It is the District 7 seat on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors. Gary Clement, who held the position for eight years, confirmed to Palo Alto attorney Rebecca Eisenberg.
As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, Clemen was leading Eisenberg by nearly 10 points, according to the county voter registration office. According to the candidate’s financial statements, Eisenberg maintained her lead with her 54.9% of the vote against her 45.2% for Clemen in a big-money race that had four times as much money as Eisenberg’s. continued.
As of Wednesday, the county was tallying 91% of the vote, according to the Registrar’s Office of Voters, and Clemen conceded he lost the election.
“I respect the will of the voters and wish the winner the best of luck,” he said in a statement to the news outlet.
Eisenberg, who had not yet heard from Clemen, said, “This is a decisive victory and I am deeply humbled, proud and grateful.
In a statement, Eisenberg spoke of her mentors and role models, former Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Radris Cordell, water district board member Barbara Keegan, former board member Brian Schmidt, and her “belief. “It’s too good to be true,” thanked several people, including her husband, Curtis Smoller, campaign manager.
He said, “He held my hand (several times) and stayed with me when I was about to give up. Celebrate with me all the successes you’ve won,” she said. “And I feel very honored to have this opportunity to serve a community that I take completely seriously.”
With a budget of $838 million and overseen by a seven-person board, the Water District supplies water throughout the county and provides flood protection and stream management. Palo Alto is served by Valley Water, but it receives its water from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, not from the district.
Eisenberg said there is a lot of important work that needs to be done urgently for current and future generations. She looks forward to seeing Generation Z become more involved in governance around existential issues like water supply, drought, and climate change that “affect them more than anyone else.”
Eisenberg said he would seek government subsidies from the Inflation Reduction Act to support the district’s need to keep up with water recycling, recovery and reuse. She also looks forward to working to settle the Pacheco Dam lawsuit and other legal actions against districts alleging environmental harm and tribal land destruction.
“I want people to know that they can help me. And those who have backed the wrong horse, I will gladly forgive them without an apology. Literally no time to waste.” Only by working together can we succeed,” she said.
At one point, Clemen raised $272,814 in war money, more than ten times Eisenberg’s. This was largely funded by his $101,000 loan he made for his campaign and his $162,440 carried forward from a county assessor campaign that was discontinued earlier this year.
Funding primarily from private donors and her own loans, Eisenberg reduced Clemen’s leads from 10 to 4 times the campaign. By October 22nd, she had raised more than 1.5 times more money than Clemen’s from her individual donors. Hers is $41,889 to his $26,317, according to Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) filings.
Both candidates are driven by concerns over the need to rebuild aging infrastructure, declining water supplies during the current drought, and a growing population thirsting for more water amid climate change. It focused the campaign on the promise of building a sustainable future for the water districts it faces.