Most Influential: Barbara Spector | Los Gatos, CA Patch

Editor’s Note: Who are the movers and shakers in Los Gatos? Those who lead by example, change things around and make us better by challenging the status quo and having integrity? Today we launch our Most Influential feature profiling in five questions and answers those who push boundaries and influence change for the better.

Los Gatos Vice Mayor Barbara Spector settled in Los Gatos with her husband, Ira, in 1973. She served as a member of the Los Gatos Planning Commission between 1980 and 1988. During her tenure, the Commission developed new zoning ordinances, the Hillside Plan, the Downtown Specific Plan, and a revised General Plan to protect the town’s hillsides, historic homes, neighborhoods and local businesses.

In 2004, she was elected to serve on the Los Gatos Town Council for a four-year term, was re-elected in 2008 and is serving her second term on the body.

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Spector grew up on a farm in Stockton where she attended the same one-room school house that her father had attended.

In 1966, she earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley, secondary and community college teaching credentials from San Jose State University in 1968 and 1974, a master’s degree in political science from San Jose State University in 1974 and received her law degree magna cum laude from the University of Santa Clara School of Law in 1978. She also holds mediator and negotiation certifications from Harvard Law School.

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Prior to practicing law for 30 years, she was a high school English teacher.

She serves as special counsel to the law firm of Hoge, Fenton, Jones & Appel where, in addition to her civil litigation and mediation practice, she’s regularly appointed by state and federal courts to resolve disputes without trial as a judge pro tem, a special master, a judicial arbitrator and a mediator. 

For three years, she’s been selected by her Northern California colleagues as a “Super Lawyer,” and, in 2003, her volunteer services to the legal profession and the community earned her the Bar Association‘s highest honor, the Bryl Salsman Award.

In 2007-08, she served as mayor of Los Gatos and during her tenure on the Los Gatos Town Council, she’s represented the town on regional bodies including the Association of Bay Area Government General Assembly, the Guadalupe West Valley Water Shed Advisory Committee, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Commission, the Housing and Community Development Advisory Committee, and the Santa Clara County Cities Association City Selection Committee.

She’s also served on the Council’s Policy, General Plan, Finance and Conceptual Development Advisory committees and as liaison on theand Highway 9 projects.

Los Gatos Patch: What is your biggest contribution to the Town of Los Gatos?

Barbara Spector: I have served Los Gatos as mayor, vice-mayor, council member and planning commissioner. In those roles I helped establish our ordinances, standards and General Plan, all of which created a vision for preserving our beautiful town. Because that vision is often challenged, it is important to me to be a voice for our future.

Patch: What is the area of most influence in your profession?

Spector: I am an attorney and Harvard-trained mediator and negotiator. I use those skills to bring parties with opposing views together to achieve the best possible outcome.

Patch: How do you challenge those who work with you to become better?

Spector: I am an active listener. I then ask questions to understand individuals’ core issues with the objective of having them focus and prioritize, so that they can best deal with those issues.

Patch: How do you inspire them?

Spector: By what I say and what I do, and by the principles reflected in my words and actions.

Patch: How are you a “transformative leader”?

Spector: By understanding individuals’ strengths and weaknesses, I ask them to perform those tasks that bring out the best in them. When they face new challenges, the only thing they often need is someone who can explain, encourage and then applaud.

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