Six candidates are seeking two seats on the Rohnert Park City Council: Amy O. Ahanotu, John Borba, Carl Leivo, Jack Rosevear, Roger L. Schwanke and Pam Stafford.
The Press Democrat Editorial Board endorsed Ahanotu and Stafford on Sept. 30. A copy of the editorial is attached below. Did the PD Editorial Board make the right decision? Disagree with the choice? Post a comment to share your thoughts with other members of the community.
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PD Editorial: Two for RP
Stafford, Ahanotu offer unity, continued economic development
Rohnert Park calls itself the Friendly City, yet it may be best known for its history of political feuds.
Looking back over the past two years, however, Rohnert Park City Council members can point to several accomplishments.
Foremost, they approved a $1 billion commercial and residential redevelopment plan for a 175-acre site that formerly housed manufacturing plants for Agilent and Hewlett-Packard. The Codding Enterprises project includes Sonoma County’s first small-business incubator. Also in the realm of economic development, after weighing the potential for new jobs and added sales tax revenue against criticism of Wal-Mart’s business practices, the council approved an expansion of the local Wal-Mart store.
They filled a city manager vacancy at a significantly lower salary and helped new businesses move into vacant storefronts along Highway 101. And, after making significant budget cuts, including nearly three dozen layoffs and converting the Spreckels Center for the Performing Arts into a rental facility, they secured voter approval of a half-cent sales tax increase.
We recommended against the sales tax, but we recognize the outcome as a vote of confidence in the city’s leaders. The challenge is to build on that trust, which will require more work on the city’s budget as well as stepped-up efforts to promote economic development, including fulfilling the vision of a new university district.
With two City Council seats on the Nov. 2 ballot, we believe that Mayor Pam Stafford and Planning Commissioner Amy Ahanotu are best suited to the task.
Stafford, a longtime Rohnert Park resident, who is seeking a second term on the council, has worked diligently to build a governing majority and shares credit for the accomplishments of the past two years.
Ahanotu, a credit union manager, has been chairman of the Rohnert Park Chamber of Commerce for three years. He advocates recruiting businesses to fill the city’s vacant spaces and reinvigorating the long-stalled university district and stadium projects. And he has the backing of Stafford and council members Gina Belforte and Jake Mackenzie, a show of unity unusual in Rohnert Park.
Four other candidates are on the ballot: John Borba, a planning commissioner; Carl Leivo, an ex-city manager; Jack Rosevear, a retired city fire commander; and Roger Schwanke, a retired city police officer.
Leivo says the city was in better shape financially on his watch. But before he was fired in 2005, he negotiated big increases in retirement benefits that have contributed to the city’s problems. Electing Leivo, we believe, would be a step backward for the city and its efforts to move past the political battles of old.
Rosevear’s main issue is his unhappy tenure in the Public Safety Department. Schwanke is concerned about budget cuts affecting the Public Safety Department. Borba is thoughtful and active in the community and is a strong advocate for economic development. But, on balance, we believe Ahanotu offers more specific ideas and is better suited for the job.
For the Rohnert Park City Council, The Press Democrat recommends Amy Ahanotu and Pam Stafford.