Councilwoman not to run for reelection
The facts are a little fuzzy, but Maia Schneider doesn’t deny that a bottle of bourbon may have been involved in her decision to accept a seat on the Town Council five years ago.
“I’m not sure I fully appreciated what I was getting into,” she said with a laugh.
A year after her appointment to the council, Schneider decided to run in the 1998 election.
“Then it was a fully conscious, sober decision,” she said.
Four years after moving to Truckee from the Bay Area, Schneider submitted an application to be appointed to the council seat vacated by Steve Carpenter in 1997.
“We were all impressed that in her three to four year tenure she was as fully involved in the community as she was,” said Councilman Josh Susman, noting her involvement in the community as a Rotary member and as host of Truckee Talks.
Councilman Don McCormack said Schneider contributed a great deal during her time on the council and has been a “very good council lady.”
“We’ve approached all of our decisions in an open and cooperative manner, and I think Maia has been particularly valuable in contributing to that attitude that we use,” McCormack said.
Now, five years later, Schneider has decided against running for Town Council during this year’s election.
“My service on the town council was turning me into a cynical old lady,” Schneider said. “I was becoming somebody I didn’t like.”
She said she no longer feels she was being as effective a council member as she could have been, and was becoming frustrated with the way the town is run and how decisions are made.
“Our town council is too close to the staff of the town government to make unbiased decisions,” she said. “You can’t make an objective decision when your best friend is making a recommendation.”
Despite her criticisms, Schneider said she admires each of the council members and their dedication to Truckee residents, even if the five of them didn’t always agree.
“I appreciate that each one of them brought something important to the party,” she said.
Because so many of the issues the council deals with are very complicated, it can easily take a year or two to catch up on all of the issues.
Schneider said she easily spent 20 hours per week on council business alone and sometimes took vacation time from her full-time day job – as director of the Tahoe Forest Hospital Foundation – to work on council business.
She said that public input is an important part of council members’ decisions, but that sometimes other issues get in the way and that the public doesn’t often understand that the public process can take a long time.
The council also has to make decisions based on the law and statute, not just public input.
Council members were accused at the Sept. 5 meeting of not listening to public concern regarding the relocation of the town’s corporation yard.
“What they didn’t understand is that there’s a lot of process involved in everything you do,” Schneider said. “Every Town Council member considers public input an important part of making a decision.”
When her term is up in about a month, Schneider plans to keep up with town politics, but said she will not go to council meetings, nor will she watch the meetings on Channel 6.
She said that she does plan on getting involved in the general plan update and the town hall relocation, but that she will generally follow advice given to her by a friend – to go “cold turkey.”
Without the extra 20 hours of work per week, Schneider hopes to go back to school to get a Bachelor’s degree and catch up with old friends that she feels she’s neglected for the past five years.
Although many people have assumed that being on the Town Council is a thankless job, Schneider said she couldn’t agree less with that statement.
“It’s an enriching job. It’s a satisfying job,” she said, noting that community members would often stop her on the street or in a store and thank her for her work on the Council.
“This has been a significant honor for me to serve as an elected official,” Schneider said. “I love this town. It’s amazing to me that I had the opportunity to do this.”
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