Portola Valley: New mayor also a career leader in his day jobs


Craig Hughes, elected Dec. 14 by his colleagues on the Town Council as the 2017 mayor of Portola Valley, is not unaccustomed to leadership positions.

Of 11 companies he's worked with, Mr. Hughes, who is 42, was founder or chief technical officer (and occasionally both) in seven of them. The projects he's worked on include anti-spam software, a Linux server the size of a stick of chewing gum, and software that allowed developers to design, test and distribute apps for digital TV.

As mayor, a title rotated among the council members, he will set agendas for and preside over council meetings. The council picked Councilman John Richards as vice mayor to chair council meetings in the mayor's absence.

When asked about priorities for the year ahead, Mr. Hughes had ready answers.

The council will be monitoring the effect on traffic of two commercial construction projects, the Windmill School at 900 Portola Road and the clubhouse renovation at the Alpine Hills Swim & Tennis Club at 4139 Alpine Road.

The drought is not over, and the town is engaged with the California Water Service company to install smart water meters in town, and the Water Conservation Committee continues its efforts to help residents conserve and reuse water.

Looking ahead 25 years, a committee has been gathering information from various council advisory committees and from the public, asking for ideas on the future of the 11.2-acre Town Center.

On the home front, the town is looking into ways to provide housing for various groups of people who work in town, including employees, teachers and sheriff's deputies.

In an effort to discourage criminal activity, the town manager is investigating the logistics and costs of setting up license-plate-reading cameras on roads used to enter and exit the town. The council hasn't decided yet to install the cameras. Two home-invasion robberies in town in 2016 have added an urgency to the matter.

Chief technical officer

Mr. Hughes is currently chief technical officer for Cognoa, a startup that uses machine learning and diagnostic data collected on more than 10,000 children to form the basis for an algorithm to analyze a child's behavior using information provided by the child's parents. The goal: detect children at risk for developmental delay and autism.

He served on the Architectural & Site Control Commission before running for a council seat in 2013. Mr. Hughes is bilingual (French and English) and has a limited proficiency in German, he said. He is a graduate of St. Paul's School, a high school in London, and is a few credits short of a bachelor's degree at Stanford University in symbolic systems a blend of cognitive science, artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction.

Mr. Hughes is married and has two children.

Asked about his governing philosophy, Mr. Hughes said it's been on display since 2013, when he was elected to the council. He noted listening, keeping an open mind and acting in the spirit of 1964, when the town was founded.

Finding ways to adapt to modernity while "preserving what's special about Portola Valley" is the key, he said.

"I think in most cases, I've found that it's not impossible," he said.


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Posted by caroline V
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Dec 27, 2016 at 8:20 pm

Dear Mr. Hughes,
thank you for your dedication and endless community service hours to serve our Town, its constituents and our community.
My husband and I have lived in this community for over 22 years, worked and lived in the Bay Area for over 30 years, and have contributed many hours of community service by volunteering for the Parc and Rec Department, Teen committee, Safe Bike trails, teen dances, town picnic, and supporting many wonderful fundraisers organized by PV parents to support academic challenges and student opportunities at Ormondale and Corte Madera. We can also inform you about the changes we have experienced within our community.
My expertise is in healthcare and education, its deficiencies, the lack of compliance, and the collaborative efforts by our current administration, its appointed officials, and elected officials to ignore our laws, ignore due process, and ignore due diligence causing our broken education and healthcare system. I can also help you as a resident who has dealt with PGE and CPUC, disclose its deficiencies, and express my concerns about PCE. I also have previous experience the deficiencies and problems in law enforcement as I have dealt with Sheriff Munks, District Attorney Rosen, DA Wagstaffe, the California Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and currently waiting for response from US Attorney Brian Stretch, US district Judge Mueller, and US attorney J. Samuels.
The recent violent crimes and lack of results despite the increased spending on law enforcement raise deep concerns.
I also have concerns about our water supply as I discovered more mineral deposit and algae in our water early spring. I did contact California Water and discovered they only tests for PH levels. I researched private lab testing, but have not had the time to conduct our own water testing. I will be happy to share the results once I have them. In the mean time I have been using bottled water for most of our cooking. I have spent the last 4 years investigating our government promises, government policies, state and federal law to understand the deficiencies that caused our broken education, broken healthcare, and broken justice system. I will be happy to share my findings to help you understand the problems. I also have been involved with the PV community addressing increased airplane noise and airplane pollution since 2009, the ineffective round table meetings, the lack of compliance by FAA, SF airport, the airline industry, and can highlight the many government jobs that have been created to support climate change, tourism, noise reduction, pollution...unfortunately resulting in more government jobs and voting power, but huge deceit when it comes to protect the safety and well being of constituents. PV constituents and constituents in neighboring communities have experienced and now expressed increased noise, increased stress, increased asthma and pulmonary disease, and the increased safety hazard of low flying planes over our communities. This affecting the health, the safety and well being for many constituents.
I will be happy to share my findings and fill you in on the problems.
Thank you for your time and dedication serving our PV community.
Caroline Vertongen

2 people like this
Posted by Robert Thompson
a resident of another community
on Dec 28, 2016 at 1:33 pm

Good afternoon,

Caroline Vertongen, as the water quality program manager for your water system at Cal Water, I can assure you that we rigorously test our water for more than pH. We conduct thousands of test for a multitude of constituents throughout the year to ensure that the water delivered to you, and all of our consumers, meets all water quality standards. The annual water quality report can be found at I will also try to reach out to you directly to discuss any additional concerns you may have.

My very best,
Robert Thompson - Water Quality Program Manager

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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