Grass Valley’s Arbuckle now president of League of California Cities |

Grass Valley’s Arbuckle now president of League of California Cities

Lorraine Jewett
Special to The Union
Jan Arbuckle, behind the podium, is shown with other members of the league’s women’s caucus.
Photo submitted by the League of California Cities

Jan Arbuckle is a former Grass Valley mayor and current city council member. She’s about to ascend to an even loftier political position.

At the closing session of the League of California Cities conference in Long Beach next week, Arbuckle will take the gavel and assume the position of league president.

Grass Valley could benefit from Arbuckle’s one-year term as president in many ways, including visibility and stature. There will be economic benefits as well. When the league convenes its quarterly board meeting in February, it will be held in Grass Valley because it’s a tradition that the winter meeting is held in the president’s home town.

The league has reserved 60 rooms for up to three days, but the exact number to be booked won’t be known until the deadline to RSVP for the meeting comes in early February. Those attending the meeting will spend tourist dollars here.

“Our hope is it’s not going to snow or rain, so they will have the opportunity to walk through town, visit our tasting rooms, shop at our merchants, and eat at our restaurants,” said Arbuckle. “Once they see how charming our area is, they’ll tell other people. They may come back to visit or maybe even come back to live.”

Executive Director of the League of California Cities Carolyn Coleman said there are several ways Grass Valley will benefit from Arbuckle’s tenure as league president.

“More people from across the state will learn about the community that exists in Grass Valley,” she said. “The town will be held up as an example of how to get things done. By virtue of Jan being the league’s president and having the visibility she will have, it will shine the spotlight on Grass Valley in terms of companies being interested in doing business there.”

There will be additional benefits when Arbuckle brings the 55 members of the league’s board of directors and staff to town in February.

“With Jan’s statewide leadership role, it gives Grass Valley an opportunity to leverage her as a resource and an asset,” said Coleman. “There are ways for the Grass Valley community and city council to have a greater voice on the statewide stage.”

In addition to league board members and staff, representatives of organizations and businesses called league partners will also attend the February meeting. League partners help support local governments in their efforts to retain local control.

One league partner is Schneider Electric, a global company that integrates energy solutions across multiple types of markets.

“My focus is on improving infrastructure for energy, water and wastewater facilities,” said Mark Kindelberger, Regional Sales Manager for Schneider Electric.

Kindelberger said he’s looking forward to networking with elected and appointed city leaders and pitching the idea of a small project at Grass Valley’s Wastewater Treatment Plant to improve how oxygen is mixed with incoming waste.  

“From a local business perspective, we would use local trade subcontractors to help on our projects,” said Kindelberger. “That would boost the local economy through paychecks and purchases. Projects usually last 12 months or more, so local hotels, restaurants and gas stations are often the beneficiaries of a project like ours.”

Tim James, local government relations senior manager for the league partner California Grocers Association, said Arbuckle’s presidency will introduce Grass Valley to a wide swath of important decision-makers.

“From the Mexico border to Oregon, from the Nevada border to the sea, it’s a comprehensive group who will become aware of what Grass Valley and Sierra Nevada communities have to offer,” James said, “and they are likely to return and spend money there.”

James said the economic benefits of Arbuckle’s presidency may go beyond the local tourism industry.

“When you look at the people who will come to this meeting, Jan’s colleagues and folks in the position of making business decisions, it’s possible Grass Valley might attract new business because of this exposure,” James said.

There are 16 geographical divisions within the League of California Cities, which include 482 member cities. Grass Valley is within the Sacramento Valley Division, which includes 58 cities from Yreka to Galt within 18 Northern California counties.

Arbuckle was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Grass Valley City Council in 2007, and within months became the city’s representative to the league. She’s been president of the Sacramento Valley division twice, president of the league’s women’s caucus, chair of the league’s public safety policy committee twice, co-chair of a joint task force on homelessness, chair of the league’s administrative services policy committee, and a member of the league’s strategic plan task force.

In 2017, Arbuckle was elected league vice president and served in that capacity for the past year. She was elected president in June and will begin her term Sept. 14.

League board members who will visit Grass Valley in February are a powerful group of politically-astute city leaders from across California. Their visit here will inform their decisions about rural communities.

“They may become your next congressman, state senator, or governor,” said Arbuckle. “These are people who make things happen up and down the state. If they come to understand what small communities need, it will help them make better decisions about why one size does not fit all.”

“We’re going to take every opportunity that comes from Jan being president of the League of California Cities,” said city manager Tim Kiser, “We’re going to put our best foot forward to ensure Grass Valley is perceived as the gem of the foothills that it really is.”

Gold Miners Inn General Manager Sean Gilleran said his hotel will roll out the red carpet for league members and guests, including coupons and special offers to entice hotel guests to explore downtown Grass Valley.

“We want to ensure they enjoy themselves and see all that our town has to offer,” said Gilleran.

Arbuckle is eager to show off her community to her colleagues, but said she doesn’t need to bribe league members with welcome baskets full of presents.

“Instead of swag, their gift is their precious time here,” said Arbuckle.

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at

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