Brown: ‘time to move on’

First District Sonoma County Supervisor Valerie Brown, who began her political career as a member of the Sonoma City Council, will not run for reelection in 2012, stepping aside after 20 years in public office.
“Looking back on my two decades of public service and partnership with the people of Sonoma County, I’ve concluded that it is time,” Brown said in a statement released Monday. She will serve out her full term.
“Twenty-two years ago, a group of Sonoma friends invited me to the Feed Store for breakfast and surprised me by asking if I would run for city council,” she recalled. “Never in a million years had I considered running for public office.”

Although she had opened the Sonoma Valley Educational Center, and served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, public office was a more intense commitment, she said.

So was running for office, Brown recalled “the early days of buying my only suit for public appearances, walking every precinct in Sonoma, breaking into a cold sweat before every debate and standing in front of Long’s with a card table and homemade brochures.”

After the stint on the Sonoma council, including serving as mayor, Brown spent six years in the State Assembly.

“I was fortunate to serve with the best and the brightest minds,” she said, among them, “Mike Thompson and Jackie Speier, John Burton from San Francisco, my seatmate and leading environmentalist of the time Byron Sher, and the indomitable Speaker Willie Brown.”

It was a time when politics was far more collegial, Valerie Brown said. There were no pledges to sign and Democrats and Republicans worked together toward compromises.

“I’ve never cared much for partisan bickering or political conflicts that prevent reaching practical and viable solutions,” she said.

When Brown was termed out of the Assembly in 1998 she thought her career in politics was over. But in 2002, she was tapped by then-Governor Gray Davis to replace County Supervisor Mike Cale, who retired mid-term.

Brown said her own decision to step down from the board “has been excruciatingly difficult and very personal. But after 22 years it is time to move on.”

“I love my job and I’ve loved my career, and have been blessed with incredible district directors, Jennifer Hainstock and Lynn Morton-Weil,” Brown said. “My life has been rich beyond expectation and I have been blessed by the support of my friends in Sonoma Valley and through Sonoma County.”

Brown’s top seven

Valerie Brown will serve out her full term before leaving office. Among her many accomplishments since being named to the board in 2001, she pointed Monday to these:

• Establishing the Redevelopment Advisory Committee enabling the Highway 12 project with street lighting and sidewalks.
• Supporting a Property Assessment Clean Energy program to provide homeowners and commercial businesses the opportunity to retrofit for energy efficiency.
• Promoting and approving the first groundwater management plan in Sonoma County.
• Dedicating county land for a community garden in Larson Park.
• Bringing to the county a Network of Care website that gives nonprofits and veterans a resource for building a healthy community.
• Supporting a new Grange Bridge and naming the Riverside bridge the Ig Vella Bridge (a tribute to one of my most valued mentors).
• Redirecting funds from Transient Occupancy Taxes to tourism events in Sonoma Valley.

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