Stephanie Moulton-Peters '79

Mill Valley, California, elects five members to City Council who serve a four-year term. The mayorship rotates among council members every year. Stephanie Moulton- Peters ’79 has just completed her year as Mayor during her third term as a city council member (making this her third term as Mayor).

How did you become interested in local government?

My mother and father were actively involved in the community in civic and nonprofit organizations. They followed local, state, and national politics, and keeping up with the daily newspaper and nightly news was a part of our family life. I moved to Mill Valley with my husband in 1992 and our children were born a few years later. As they went to school, I began to volunteer for the City's Emergency Preparedness Commission and the school emergency preparedness committee, and I started the Safe Routes to School program at our school to encourage children to walk, bike, and carpool to school, as I had done as a child in Los Angeles. I was visible in the community and a councilmember suggested to me that I run for city council. Serving on the city council in a small city is an extension of volunteer service, and those early issues continue to be important to me as a councilmember.

What have been some of your challenges and successes as a councilmember and mayor?

I am very proud of a project we recently completed in Mill Valley: the transformation of our main street, Miller Avenue, to a beautiful new street that works well for all users, including cars, transit, bicycles, and pedestrians of all ages. The community planning for Miller Ave was a complicated process that took over a decade to complete, and had setbacks and challenges along the way, coming to a complete halt at one point. It was difficult for residents to imagine and be comfortable with nearly two miles of changes to the roadway and to adjacent housing. As a newly elected councilmember, I was tasked, along with another new councilmember, to get the process back on track. We refocused the project on making improvements to the street. We did a lot of listening, took a lot of notes, and posted them where everyone could see them. All ideas were heard, evaluated, and debated by citizen committee members and technical staff. In the end, we developed a plan that everyone could get behind, and that's basically the plan we constructed. We have won three statewide awards for this project - all the hard work has paid off and the community really enjoys their new street! 

How has your Marlborough education supported your work in local government? 

My experience at Marlborough had a huge influence and impact on my involvement in government: I learned leadership skills through participating in student government (serving as class officers and Student Body Vice President in both Lower and Upper School) and in leadership positions in extracurricular activities and youth volunteer organizations. As young women at Marlborough, we had the opportunity to "run everything on campus," and I came into the world expecting I would do that. Marlborough instills a willingness to follow your passions and work hard for the things you believe in. I do that every day as a public servant. 

What advice do you have for current students interested in pursuing work in government?

Volunteer and develop your leadership and speaking skills in whatever issues and activities interest you. Truly listen and empathize; learn to forge consensus and compromise, looking for win/win/win solutions. Don't be afraid if it takes more that one try to bring a new idea into being; things take time, some ideas aren't "ripe" yet, sometimes the community isn't ready to accept a new idea, but keep trying; find others to work with, and stay positive. serving the community can be incredibly soul-satisfying. 


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