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Petaluma’s Harris kicks off council campaign

Petaluma City Councilman Mike Harris kicked off his reelection campaign Tuesday night with a crowd of nearly 250 people at Mister McGoo’s restaurant.

Harris, 39, is one of four candidates who have announced their intention to run for three seats on the council on the November 2 ballot. Two others have announced they will seek the mayoral seat, being vacated by Pam Torliatt as she seeks election to the Board of Supervisors.

“There were some longtime supporters and some new faces there,” Harris said Wednesday. “I think people see my inclusive nature and my ability to bring people together. I look forward to debates about the issues.”

He is endorsed by Sheriff-elect Steve Freitas and former Congressman Don Clausen.

Harris is seeking a third term on the council, having been first elected in 2002 and reelected in 2006.

David Rabbitt, whose term also expires in December, is running against Torliatt for supervisor, leaving his seat open. Incumbent Teresa Barrett, elected in 2006, hasn’t said if she will seek reelection.

In addition to Harris, candidates for the four-year seats include teacher and former councilwoman Karen Nau, retired telecom executive Ray Johnson and former fire chief Chris Albertson.

With four of the seven seats on the council – including the mayor’s job – up for election, residents could see a shift in ideology. Currently, a 4-3 majority favoring strict conditions on new building holds sway in Petaluma.

Harris, a senior vice president at a payment guarantee company in Rohnert Park, and the other three announced candidates are considered more business friendly.

Councilman David Glass, among the slow-growth majority, is seeking to replace Torliatt as mayor. Jeff Mayne, president of Petaluma’’s Downtown Association, will oppose him.

If Glass were elected mayor, the council would likely appoint a replacement for his council term, which ends in 2012.

The filing deadline is August 6.

- Lori A. Carter

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