Elections 2012: Victoria Smith, Candidate for Orinda City Council

Victoria Smith is running for one of two available seats on the city council.

General Information

Name : Victoria Smith
Age : 56
Place of residence : Orinda



Attended college : Yes
College : U C Berkeley
Degree : B.A.
Year of graduation : 1978

Grad school

University : Hastings College of the law
Degree : J.D.
Year of graduation : 1981

Employment Information

Job titles held : Attorney
Employers : Law Offices of Victoria Robinson Smith

Political Information

Party affiliation : Other
Party affiliation : Council is Non-Partisan
Running for a: Local office
Running for position: Orinda City Council
Chamber/district: n/a
Incumbent: Yes
First elected: 31 October 2004
Previous elective offices : none
Unsuccessful bids for elective offices : none

Party HQ

Address P.O. Box 2214

Campaign Manager

Name : Alex Evans
Title : Campaign Manager


Website : www.voteforvictoria.org

Other facts

Victoria Robinson Smith grew up in Silicon Valley and graduated from U.C. Berkeley and Hastings College of the Law. As an attorney, Victoria assists individuals and businesses in real estate transactions and dispute resolution. Victoria has been married for 34 years to Wick Smith, and they are the parents of Will and Daniel, products of Orinda's fine schools and both now in graduate school. Twenty-four years ago, when their children were small, Victoria and Wick Smith moved back to his home town of Orinda. They became involved in Scouts, OYA sports, and the schools. Victoria served as a Parent's Club board member at Sleepy Hollow, Wagner Ranch, OIS and Miramonte. Seventeen years ago, Victoria moved her law practice to Orinda and became an active member of the Orinda Chamber of Commerce. Victoria served as the President of the Women's Section of the Contra Costa County Bar Association, and as the Appointee of Former Supervisor Gayle Uilkema on the Contra Costa County Family and Children's Trust Committee, which allocates funds for the prevention and treatment of child abuse. Victoria served on the City of Orinda Planning Commission from 2003-2004. Victoria was elected to the Orinda City Council in 2004, and served as Vice-Mayor in 2007 and 2010, and Mayor in 2008 and 2011. Victoria serves on the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority, and was Chair of the Board in 2010. Victoria also currently serves on the Executive Board of the Contra Costa County Mayor's Conference, as Liaison to the Orinda Chamber of Commerce and the Moraga-Orinda Fire District, and on the City of Orinda Library Steering Committee, Senior Housing Sub-Committee and on the Audit and Finance Committee.

Carolyn Phinney September 04, 2012 at 06:52 PM
One great thing about election time is that we get to read about those who have been serving and representing us! I didn't know all this. Very impressive.
Steve Cohn September 04, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Council Member Smith: With regards to the the current ten-year road plan adopted by the City Council (details at www.orindaroadfacts.virb.com/orinda-ten-year-plan) 1) What will the $600,000 from the proposed sales tax be used for? To supplement the maintenance fund for the current city priority roads (arterials, collectors and school routes) or for some other road use? 2) How can the city assume that the two $20 million bond measures in the plan providing 85% of the plan's total funding, which will each cost about $200 per parcel annually for 30 years, will be accepted by the voters with a 2/3 majority when the past two city surveys showed fewer than 50% would support even one $200 parcel tax?
Chris Nicholson September 04, 2012 at 11:01 PM
I know it's an election and everyone can't win, but I think it's so cool that such talented people volunteer to serve to our community. Thanks!
Quiet Orinda September 05, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Victoria, would you be open to addressing - in earnest - the problem of debris blower pollution in Orinda?
Spencer September 05, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Cal...Hastings Law...OYA...Scouts.....got my vote!
Steve Cohn September 10, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Council Member Smith, Carol Penskar just asked candidate Delehunt the following question "Please comment *specifically* on the Barnidge column on page B1 of today's (Monday) CC Times: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_21491291/barnidge-how-three-contra-costa-cities-avoided-doomsday"; . When asked why she did not ask the same question of you, Carol responded "having participated intimately in the City of Orinda budget process for 5 years now, I am very well aware of the views of Candidate Smith on various budget issues." I, and most Patch readers do not have her intimate knowledge so I wonder if you could respond to the same question?
Steve Cohn September 13, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Candidate Smith - 8 days and counting. A comment on Delehunt's posting stated "Politics 101: debates only hurt incumbents--- avoid them if possible (unless the incumbent thinks s/he would otherwise lose). Generally more downside than upside. Not saying that Glazer and Smith are being consciously Machiavellian, but it kinda makes intuitive sense too." Do you agree with this or am I being unreasonably expectant?
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 13, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Honestly, Steve, how would it benefit her to comment in this forum? Several other candidates have answered questions and been attacked by people who don't live in their voting area or are commenting anonymously. You ought to view a candidate who responds in this forum as an exception, not a rule. There's really no advantage to it. Perhaps, you should attempt to schedule a meeting with the candidate. You always have the option to write a blog about your meeting or the candidate's lack of response to your meeting request.
Steve Cohn September 13, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Ian, I am not looking for Victoria to benefit, even though I like her personally. I am looking for the voters to benefit. There usually is a candidate forum at some point but it is very limited and does not allow serious introspection and thought behind responses to questions and deeper probing. I am sorry that some people get acerbic but, quite frankly, the questions that have been asked so far and the responses and facts that have emerged on Delejunt's posting have not been out of line and rather informative. The Patch is the only place this can happen. The Orinda News has an October issue coming up which is already closed for input and its November issue comes out after many absentee voters have voted. The Lamorinda Weekly just came out with candidate statements and a few letters and three more issues (9/26, 10/10, and 10/24) before the election. A reader could ask a question on 9/26, get a response on 10/10, and comment on the response on 10/24. That's it. Pretty lame in my book.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 13, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Steve - You may not be looking at benefit, but candidates do. An anonymous forum such as Patch is a poor place for candidates to attempt and discuss their policy positions. Danville Patch & The Danville Express or Weekly or whatever it's calling itself these days sponsored a candidate forum for Co. Supervisor. Perhaps, readers could convince Lamorinda Patch and Lamorinda Weekly to do likewise. But, these comment sections have proven that the candidates should stay away from them. Heck, people around here love Mark Meuser and he hardly ever responds to any comments made in blog posts that he voluntarily writes and submits. So, why would a local candidate participate in these forums? Candidates have to deal in reality, not what should happen in a perfect world.
Steve Cohn September 13, 2012 at 05:37 AM
Voters need to deal in the reality too. What should be, could be would be might be fine for the next cycle but it probably will not happen in 2012. We need to pry out of the candidates what they really might do; what they really might think; and what they really might understand or not in any way we can. The Patch is a powerful tool. If the Candidates won't respond the voters might assume they are either (1) Machiavellian (2) have ideas the voters don't like (3) clueless. Don't assume the best because you are bound to be disappointed (unless its about your kids)
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 13, 2012 at 12:08 PM
The Patch is a useful tool, but not a powerful tool when it comes to soliciting the opinions of candidates, unless by powerful you mean an opportunity to brow-beat, criticize, and denounce them all while remaining anonymous. If voters want to know a candidate's view on an issue, the best suggestion is to schedule a meeting with the candidate or send them an e-mail directly. If you want to share that information with other Patchers, then you could write a blog post about your exchange with the candidate. In your comment to me you talk about candidates responding to voters. I'm not an Orinda voter so if I ask an Orinda candidate a question on Patch, why should the person respond to my question? Again, responding to the comments on Patch is not beneficial to the candidates and, in fact, can easily hurt them - which is most likely the intent of the questioners to begin with.
Chris Nicholson September 13, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I think the right middle ground would be to have Patch ask readers to submit via comment stream (or email if they are shy) potential questions for candidates. J.D. would select 3-5 questions for each race and submit them to candidates for responses, those would then be posted as new stories. The candidates could choose to engage in the comment stream or not, but at least they will have responded to key issues in some way. Downsides: a lot of work for Patch (maybe limit to city/town Council elections), and responses are likely to be broad platitudes (Q's should be framed to call out contrasts, but still hard).
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 13, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I'd agree that the system Chris has proposed is a reasonable middle ground. It allows for questions to be screened for appropriateness & allows the spotlight to remain on the Patch forum.
Steve Cohn September 13, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Since I am the instigator here I guess I need to comment on the Nicholson proposal. Sure. Better than nothing as this does not limit people from making comments on these postings which the candidates can respond to or ignore at their own choosing and people can make whatever they want of that.
Ian Lipnicky (still a SportsFan) September 13, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Steve - I wouldn't say you are the instigator. My sentiments are based on the vast majority of comments left across all of these candidate pages. My opinion is not based on anything you have specifically done or said & my apologies if I conveyed otherwise.
New guy September 13, 2012 at 07:29 PM
This is an intelligent exchange and has brought up good questions and ideas. The flaw here as I see it is that I dont believe Patch is as widely read in our communities as you assume. As evidenced by your exchange here, I see a small number of frequent commenters, not a crosss section of Lamorinda. If the website or the comments/questions are not representative of the communities they would like to serve, why should candidates allocate a lot of thier time and resources to respond? I understand commenters do not equate to readers, but they are an indication of engagement which I see as limited at this point.
Chris Nicholson September 13, 2012 at 08:28 PM
New Guy: Agreed (to a point). My "answer this list of questions" format (not that it is particularly innovative) will allow them to re-purpose responses that will presumably also appear on their websites and in print media. Maybe J.D. can educate on some recent Patch traffic stats. Unique visitors per week would be an interesting stat. My guess is that, although the numbers might be modest, Patch can't be too far behind other media outlets available to these minor local candidates in terms of actual eyes-on-page readership--- the fact that everyone gets a copy in their mailbox is not the same. Circulation <> readership.
Janet Maiorana September 16, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Steve, I agree with you. If Carol Penskar has such intimate knowledge of Council Member Smith's positions on issues important to Orinda Voters, why is Carol Penskar unwilling to share Council Member Smith positions on Patch? Linda Delehunt has expressed her positions on Patch. Now it would be helpful for Orinda voters to hear from Virginia Smith or hear Carol Penskar's facts about Victoria Smith.
Walter Heath September 21, 2012 at 11:24 PM
We need ZERO Bekki voorhis-Gilbert's on the OUSD.
Carolyn Phinney September 21, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Walter, Could you please state your role in the Wagner Ranch controversy, so that we could understand your perspective? Thank you.
Steve Cohn October 02, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Council Member Smith, while it appears you are following the "Lipnicky Doctrine" (how would it benefit her to comment in this forum?), as I am submitting these same three questions to your two opponents, I will submit them to you. With the release of the Emergency Services Task Force report on 9/12, what is your current thinking regarding the City Council representing its residents' interests with regards emergency services? Last year the Council turned back a petition from 220 residents asking it to form its own task force to review the operations and finances of our emergency services provider, MOFD, stating that reviewing MOFD's services to Orinda's residents was not in the Council's purview. Given the facts on MOFD's operations and finances reported by the Task Force, I have three questions on what you feel about the City's responsibility to ensure proper and sustainable emergency services for its residents and representing their best interests.
Steve Cohn October 02, 2012 at 08:48 PM
1) Orinda taxpayers pay 64% of MOFD's total tax revenue. Since 58% of MOFD's firefighters (11 of 19) are stationed in Orinda, Orinda taxpayers are paying 14%, about $1 million, of Moraga's emergency services expense. At the 2009 Tri-Agency meeting, MOFD defended this 14% subsidy by stating that Moraga units fully serviced 700 Orinda homes and provided backup service to another 800 with no reciprocal service from Orinda into Moraga. These homes create 17% of Orinda's service and make the 14% support of Moraga's emergency services costs justifiable. However, the Task Force's review of actual operations shows that MOFD's description of service from Moraga into Orinda is unsupportable. There is, in fact, significant reciprocal service from Orinda into Moraga with the only net service from Moraga into Orinda being 100 ambulance operations per year representing about 3% of Orinda's total service. The cost of these operations is reduced by the fact that 70% of them generate user fees so the total value to Orinda residents is less than $100,000 per year. The almost $1 million of subsidy from Orinda taxpayers to Moraga is contrary to the cost-sharing basis-of-formation of MOFD when Orinda detached from ConFire for precisely this reason. Do you believe it is the Orinda Council's responsibility to act as the residents' representative to work with the MOFD Board and the Moraga Council to address this so as to prevent a drastic action such as detachment from reoccurring?
Steve Cohn October 02, 2012 at 08:48 PM
2) The Task Force report illustrates that 39% of time critical emergencies in Orinda are responded to in excess of the 6 minute standard set by MOFD in accordance with industry standards. This is despite the fact that Orinda has four times as many firefighters per capita as ConFire which handles the same number of incidents per capita as MOFD. It appears that the reason for this sub-standard service is that the available emergency responders are concentrated in the same three stations they were when the district was formed; staffed to handle the rare fire while not responding as rapidly as would be optimal to medical emergencies. MOFD's long range financial plans show no efforts to change this configuration. Do you believe it is the City Council's obligation to act as the residents' representative work with MOFD to improve this sub-standard service or, since the voters put their emergency services needs in MOFD's hands at the recommendation of the 1997 City Council, do you believe that this sub-standard service is solely the residents' problem and they must deal directly with MOFD on their own with no support from the Council?
Steve Cohn October 02, 2012 at 08:49 PM
3) The Task Force report demonstrates that MOFD has accrued approximately $700 million in long term liabilities while acquiring only $120 million in assets to offset these. The Task Force estimates that the existing assets will only pay off $200-300 of these liabilities leaving $400-500 currently unaccounted for. Revenue projections show that there should be enough revenue to pay for these unfunded liabilities but service may be further compromised. One Orinda resident who is not part of the Task Force but appears knowledgeable of such matters, Finance Committee member Carol Penskar, has stated that she believes that MOFD is actually at risk of actually going into bankruptcy. If this happens the obligation of providing emergency services to Orinda residents might fall back onto the shoulders of the City. Do you think that the City should become, if not actively involved at least actively aware of how MOFD is dealing with this issue? If yes, what steps do you believe the city should take?


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