As the 2012 Chamber chairwoman, Mitchell succeeds Tom Powers of California Financial Advisors, who celebrated her selection to the organization's top post at the annual "State of the Chamber" luncheon on Jan. 24. Powers actually had reason to celebrate his leadership role in 2011 as well, with the chamber now counting more than 800 members, making it one of the largest and most active chambers in the East Bay. With the help of Chamber President Scott Raty, Powers and his team worked with city representatives to approve new sites where more than 3,000 housing units can be built to accommodate so-called affordable workforce housing. The Chamber also was instrumental in persuading Safeway to build a new Lifestyle supermarket here, with Continuing Care to break ground on a new 650-unit retirement center on Staples Ranch, and in hosting a health care symposium at the Palm Event Center.
For Mitchell in 2012, the Alameda County Fair's anniversary could be the biggest celebration in Pleasanton. But there'll be much more. She told Chamber members that the Chamber will accelerate its work with the city of Pleasanton, Alameda County and other city, civic and county organizations to help businesses conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, boost recycling and reduce what we send off to landfills. It is the chamber's goal to help the region achieve California's AB32 "green" goals through incentives and voluntary efforts vs. future heavy-handed government mandates. For example, she wants the Chamber to work with PG&E to reach out to businesses that have yet to take advantage of free energy audits, which can lower costs that will go straight to the bottom line.
In her dual role as a top executive at the Alameda County Fair, Mitchell also faces political challenges as the chair of the Pleasanton Chamber, which has become increasingly influential through its political action committee in funding and recommending candidates for election to municipal offices. With a new mayor and two new City Council members, as well as three members on the Pleasanton school board to be elected in municipal and school elections Nov. 6, Mitchell will have to tread the political waters carefully as a nonpartisan, which is a requirement of her County Fair position.
It's fair to point out that the Alameda County Agricultural Fair Association, which operates the Alameda County Fair, is a 501(c)3 private, nonprofit corporation, which means Mitchell works for a private organization, not Alameda County, as some in Pleasanton believe. Still, it's a name and identity that no doubt will keep Mitchell at arm's length during the upcoming General Election.
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