Rosanna Herber for SMUD Board

Jeff vonKaenel

I support Rosanna Herber for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) board. And I am in good company. All seven current SMUD board members support Herber, as well as Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and others.

After longtime SMUD board member Genevieve Shiroma announced she was not running for re-election, board member Nancy Bui-Thompson recruited Herber to run for Ward 4, which includes Curtis Park, Land Park, Greenhaven, Pocket, Walnut Grove and part of Elk Grove.

At a recent Herber fundraiser, Bui-Thompson cited Herber’s 20 years at SMUD.

“At SMUD, Rosanna dedicated her career to building business and community partnerships. No one else has done so much to grow our community,” Thompson said.

Herber has the experience that will make her an excellent SMUD board member. After working as director of public affairs for the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, she moved to Sacramento where she was chief of staff to former Sacramento city councilmember Kim Mueller.

She helped set up the Trees for Tomorrow campaign, which organized civic groups, businesses and neighborhoods to plant 1 million trees and was modeled after a similar program in Fort Wayne. This campaign laid the groundwork for our nationally recognized Sacramento Tree Foundation.

And then in 1992, Herber became SMUD’s government affairs representative. This was a heady time for SMUD, which had recently shut down its ill-conceived, expensive nuclear power plants. The SMUD board had decided to take the public utility in a radically different direction, hiring the visionary general manager David Freeman. Freeman put a much greater emphasis on energy conservation than on energy creation. It was a sea-change at SMUD, creating waves within the organization.

After California deregulated energy, Herber became SMUD’s key account manager in 1997. This job was critical at this time because other energy providers such as Enron were trying poach SMUD’s large accounts. Losing these accounts would be a disaster for SMUD, which needed accounts like the County of Sacramento to support its infrastructure. Herber played a key role in keeping these large accounts.

In 2004, she became SMUD’s community relations project manager, working on SMUD’s annexation project. The goal was to have the cities of Davis, West Sacramento, Woodland and Yolo County dump PG&E and become part of SMUD. These cities asked SMUD to serve them, but the ballot measure failed after PG&E poured massive amounts of money into the campaign. SMUD, as a public entity, could not campaign.

In 2007, Herber created a new position at SMUD, community engagement supervisor, where she established and enhanced SMUD’s partnerships with numerous community nonprofits and government entities. In all, she has 20 years of experience working in various capacities at SMUD.

You can see why the entire SMUD board is looking forward to adding Herber to the board. SMUD is one of the best utility companies in the country, with a national reputation for low rates and innovative environmental policies. Over the next several years, SMUD will face numerous challenges, such as new greenhouse gases reduction regulations, a focus on electric cars, changes in solar technology and more. We need someone with Herber’s experience on the board as they navigate these challenges.

Electing Herber to the SMUD board is similar to the NBA national champions Golden State Warriors adding all-star Kevin Durant to its roster. It’s a smart move.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.