Judith Hasko, a Portola Valley resident and attorney working in the life sciences industry, was named to the Portola Valley Planning Commission to complete the two years remaining in the four-year term of longtime commissioner Arthur "Chip" McIntosh, who stepped down in December.
The Town Council interviews candidates for the five-member commission in public session and then usually votes on the appointment. There were two candidates on Wednesday, Jan. 8: Ms. Hasko and Los Trancos Woods resident and former serial entrepreneur Mike Mokelke. The vote for Ms. Hasko was unanimous.
In remarks before voting, council members noted that both candidates were qualified for the position, but the fact that Mr. Mokelke lives in an unincorporated community weighed against him, given the centrality of Planning Commission decisions in town affairs.
One such decision was the commission's highly controversial 3-2 vote in March 2013 approving the use of artificial grass to resurface a soccer field at the Woodside Priory School. In an unusual twist, the council reviewed that decision two months later, without anyone having appealed it, and then reversed it on a 3-2 vote. The commission's action came up during Ms. Hasko's interview.
The Planning Commission handling of the matter was "balanced and allowed everybody to be heard," Ms. Hasko said in response to a question by Councilman John Richards about commission decisions that might have been handled differently. "I think it was the right process. I think that it should have been a hard decision and it was."
In a lighter moment, Mr. Richards noted that Ms. Hasko's appointment would bring to three the number of attorneys on the commission, joining Nate McKitterick and Nicholas Targ. "I wouldn't hold it against me if I were you," Ms. Hasko said in an amused but no-nonsense rejoinder.
Ms. Hasko and her husband Phil Reilly have lived in the Bay Area since 1994 and in Portola Valley since 2007, she wrote in her letter of application. Until her appointment, she chaired the Trails and Paths Committee and served on the Portola Road Corridor Plan Task Force and the Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee, all panels involved in key town issues.
She has a bachelor of arts degree in bio-psychology and a master's degree in the philosophy of neurobiology, and worked as a scientist at Genentech Corp, she wrote. The couple chose to live in Portola Valley "because we perceived that the town was built on values reflecting our own, and because it was a beautiful and peaceful place to live," she said in her letter. Her recreational interests include running, hiking and riding horses.