Who’s in Charge?
A look at the individuals and groups that guide
Marin’s destiny. BY JIM WOOD
So then, who collectively
represents Marin’s 11
municipalities, namely Sausalito,
Belvedere, Tiburon, Mill Valley,
Corte Madera, Larkspur, Ross,
San Anselmo, Fairfax, San
Rafael and Novato?
however, that MM WD doesn’t include Novato,
Marin’s second largest city, or portions of West
Marin. Then there’s the Marin Healthcare
District — whose primary involvement is with
Marin General Hospital — also with five elected
directors and also excluding Novato and parts
of West Marin. Bottom line: no one entity offers
leadership to all of Marin County.
Yet numerous civic organizations offer
significant leadership. Foremost is the Marin
Community Foundation and its president, Tom
Peters, who is often quoted regarding Marin’s
needs and trends. Its nine-member appointed
board, whose members must live in Marin, is,
according to Peters, “one that is geographically,
socially and culturally diverse.” Primary among
its tasks is the distribution of $40 million annually to worthy Marin causes and institutions.
Other civic groups with county wide influ-
ence include the League of Women Voters
(LWV) of Marin County, Marin Conservation
League and the Marin County Bicycle Coalition.
Finally, there are individuals who’ve consistently worked to make the county an even
better place to live: David Schonbrunn of
Transdef, who advocates on transportation
issues; LW V’s Susan Beittel and Judy Binsacca;
and Safe Routes to School’s Wendi Kallins.
Also, efforts addressing recent hot-button
issues have been led by Jody Morales, founder
of Citizens for Sustainable Pension Plans;
Susan Kirsch, who co-founded Citizen Marin
to oppose high-density development in Marin;
and David Kunhardt, co-founder of Citizens for
a Livable Marin, who supports affordable and
transit-oriented housing. Did I leave out anyone, or any group? Let me know.
Meanwhile, while there is no one group —
or one individual — in a dominant position of
leadership in Marin County, the cooperation
and collaboration between agencies does get
the job done, and in an impressive manner.
Plus, there is ample room for others to become
civically involved. That’s my point of view.
LET’S TALK ABOUT leadership in Marin. Where does it come from? Who leads the county? Is any one group — or any one person — in charge? Ask your neighbor and
you’ll probably hear, “Are you kidding me?
The Marin County Board of Supervisors
governs Marin County.”
Not so. Decisions made by Marin’s Board of
Supervisors — who last month welcomed a new
member (San Rafael’s Damon Connolly) and
elected a new president (Ross Valley’s Katie
Rice) — primarily impact the county’s unin-
corporated communities and areas where only
a fifth of Marin’s 253,000 residents live. The
five county wide elected supervisors have only
tangential influence over Marin’s 11 incorpo-
rated cities and towns, which each elect their
own leadership and have their own budgets
supporting police, fire, recreation, public works
and building departments.
So then, who collectively represents
Marin’s 11 municipalities, namely Sausalito,
Belvedere, Tiburon, Mill Valley, Corte
Madera, Larkspur, Ross, San Anselmo,
Fairfax, San Rafael and Novato? The answer:
no one does. Oh, there’s a Marin County
Council of Mayors and Councilpersons that
meets regularly, but it has no formal power.
It’s basically a networking group.
If you’re looking for a legally constituted
agency that represents all of Marin, it’s the
Transportation Authority of Marin, or TAM.
Its board consists of representatives from each
of Marin’s 11 municipalities, along with all five
county supervisors. However, it deals only with
Another agency offering leadership is the
Marin Municipal Water District (MM WD),
with five elected directors who deal with water
issues and oversee the district’s 22,000 acres
of watershed on Mount Tamalpais. In recent
years, onetime MM WD directors Joe Nation,
Jared Huffman and the late Charles McGlashan
all moved on to higher elected offices. Note,
The vie ws and opinions expressed in this article
are those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect the official policy or position of Marin
Magazine and its staff.