Familiar face will take on Gilroy EDC director duties

Gilroy
–Jane Howard, a former state assembly candidate and past board
president of the Chamber of Commerce, has been named interim
director of the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation. She will
replace Bill Lindsteadt, who ran the public-private agency for
eight years until he died Jan. 13 due to kidn
ey failure and a series of related medical problems.
Gilroy –Jane Howard, a former state assembly candidate and past board president of the Chamber of Commerce, has been named interim director of the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation. She will replace Bill Lindsteadt, who ran the public-private agency for eight years until he died Jan. 13 due to kidney failure and a series of related medical problems.

The EDC board of directors voted to appoint Howard at a Jan. 19 meeting, according to board president Vic Vanni.

“It’s a daunting task replacing a person like Bill Lindsteadt,” Vanni said, “but the board is confident Jane is the perfect fit.”

Howard, 52, said the new job is a unique situation.

“I have the highest level of respect for Bill and had been a good friend of his since he moved to Gilroy,” she said. “Bill laid out a wonderful path.”

As the interim director, Howard will focus on maintaining relationships Lindsteadt formed with businesses looking to set up shop in Gilroy.

“I met recently with the board and they want me to get into the office and start pursuing things that Bill was working on,” said Howard, who has worked closely with city staff and councilmen as a member of the Chamber of Commerce’s government relations committee.

Howard has lived in Gilroy for 25 years and has a long resume of civic service, having served as a past president for the boards of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and the Gilroy Unified School District. She is an active member of the Gilroy Rotary and member of the Santa Clara County Republican Committee. Howard lost a 2002 bid for state assembly to Democratic rival Simon Salinas. She recently finished a year of service on the Santa Clara County civil grand jury. In that role, she once again turned her attention to GUSD as part of an investigation into the school district’s handling of taxpayer-financed construction projects. She also serves as a board member of Leadership Gilroy Foundation, which trains residents to organize grass-roots programs to benefit the community.

Another factor that tilted the board in Howard’s favor, Vanni added, was concern about the potential for a perceived conflict of interest.

“We were looking for people with a development background,” he said, “but when you do that, you obviously end up with people doing development … She’s not really involved in development in Gilroy currently so there was no question of where she stood.”

The board of directors expects Howard to assume many of the day-to-day activities it has taken care of since Lindsteadt was hospitalized in mid-December.

“Bill was terrific at handling everything,” said Vanni, adding that under Lindsteadt’s watch, “the board had the luxury of really being an oversight board. It’s really been a dramatic change. Now I feel like we’re a working board … I know Jane will fill that void for us.”

Howard said she likely will apply to serve as director on a permanent basis. The board has formed a subcommittee to seek out and vet candidates for the position. The board will focus on candidates from California and expects the hiring process to last three to six months.

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