WatchSonoma Watch

Endorsement Watch: Petaluma Mayor and City Council

Jeff Mayne

Four candidates are vying to become Petaluma’s next mayor: David Glass, Chris Kilgore, Jezra Johnson Lickter and Jeff Mayne.

Nine candidates are seeking three seats on the Petaluma City Council: Chris Albertson, Teresa Barrett, J. Ray Bellefeuille, Wyatt C. Bunker, Jason E. Davies, Mike Harris, Ray Johnson, Gabe Kearney and Karen Nau.

The Press Democrat Editorial Board endorsed Jeff Mayne for mayor and Mike Harris, Jason E. Davies and Ray Johnson for City Council on Oct. 2. A copy of the editorial is attached below. Did the PD Editorial Board make the right decisions? Disagree with the choices? Post a comment to share your thoughts with other members of the community.

Want to know more about each candidate?

CLICK HERE to see how the Petaluma mayoral candidates answered the WSC questionnaire on local issues.

Mike Harris

CLICK HERE to see how the Petaluma City Council candidates answered the WSC questionnaire on local issues.

CLICK HERE to watch a video of the candidates’ Sept. 21 debate

PD Editorial: For Petaluma
Mayne, Harris, Davies and Johnson offer ideas, experience

Despite a dramatic makeover of its downtown, Sonoma County’s river city hasn’t been spared the withering effects of the recession. With sales and property tax revenue sliding and commercial vacancies rising, Petaluma has all but exhausted its budget reserves.

The city has made significant spending cuts, including layoffs, furloughs and outsourcing the planning department, as general fund spending has fallen from $43.2 million in 2007-08 to $32.5 million this year. But the rainy day reserve has been cut to $5,000, and, unfortunately, there aren’t many signs of recovery. Then there’s Measure K Measure U, an ill-advised initiative that could render the city unable to pay the debt on its new sewer treatment plant.

Jason Davies

Petaluma, meanwhile, has become known as as a city where the council is beset by squabbling and obtaining a permit is an exercise in uncertainty — a reputation that wasn’t helped by a $100,000 settlement paid to two neighborhood activists who sued to block the Regency shopping center after a review that dragged on for seven years. Now, it appears as if the city won’t finish an environmental review of the Deer Creek Village proposal within the one-year limit established by state law. That may result in a lawsuit filed by the applicant.

That sort of notoriety can only hinder efforts to attract new employers and, in turn, badly needed tax revenue to help pay for law enforcement, fire protection, road maintenance and other services that Petaluma residents expect and deserve.

Addressing those challenges will require creativity and a greater degree of civility on the council dais.

Ray Johnson

For better or worse, politics in Petaluma and much of Sonoma County pits two large and passionate factions — those who believe growth needs to be strictly regulated, at times down to weighing the relative merits of one company over another, and those who want fewer obstacles for businesses that are consistent with local general plans and urban growth boundaries.

With the self-proclaimed “smart growth” faction in control, we think the council has gotten bogged down in process despite an economic climate in which the city needed to be nimble. In this election, we think a change is in order. The Press Democrat recommends Jeff Mayne for mayor and Jason Davies, Mike Harris and Ray Johnson for City Council.

Mayne, the president of the Petaluma Downtown Association, says the city needs to eliminate red tape to attract business and suggests creating a database listing rents paid in local commercial buildings as a service for potential tenants. Councilman David Glass, the other leading candidate for mayor, is an advocate for transit-oriented development around Petaluma’s two SMART stations, a smart direction for the city, and one that he could still pursue with two years left on his council term.

Among the nine council candidates, Harris, a widely respected two-term incumbent, understands Petaluma’s budget challenges, its economic development needs and, especially, its opportunities now that work is done on the general plan update and an extension of the urban growth boundary, which also appears on the Nov. 2 ballot.

“Now that we’re done with the bureaucratic stuff,” Harris told the editorial board, “we can say we’re open for business.”

Davies and Johnson would be newcomers to the council, but both have served in other capacities for the city.

Davies, the vice president of a Petaluma software company, serves on the city’s technology advisory committee. He’s associated with the “smart growth” faction, but he brings extensive international business experience and clearly understands the nexus of commerce and government. Davies is committed to bringing “green and clean” industry to Petaluma, and he has fresh ideas for marketing the city to potential employers.

A fresh perspective also is a selling point for Johnson, a retired AT&T marketing executive who served on Petaluma’s Site Plan and Review Committee before it was abolished by the council. He, too, wants to raise Petaluma’s profile and, equally important, he wants a clear set of rules for development and to end the practice of “land-use by lawsuit.”

Harris, Davies and Johnson concur on the need for more courtesy and respect in council dialogue and debate. An able mayor can set the tone. On that score, frankly, we have concerns about Glass and Mayne. Whomever is elected will need to control a pugnacious streak to help bring comity to the City Council.

In terms of Petaluma’s need for economic development, Mayne, Harris, Davies and Johnson offer experience in government, experience in business and good ideas for restoring the city’s fiscal health.

9 Responses to “Endorsement Watch: Petaluma Mayor and City Council”

  1. flyingfig says:

    I wouldn’t vote for Jeff Mayne “for all the tea in China.” I also suspect he’s pro Dutra Asphalt plant @ Haystack Landing. He’s never attended an event in support of Save Shollenberger Park. Reminds me of another Petaluman who has also been conspicuously absent — David Rabbit. Anyone else remember the Dutra Krauses attendance @ Rabbit’s election night party?

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  2. Luke says:

    I recently received flyers from Mayne, Harris, and Johnson. All of their flyers contained endorsements from the public safety unions. I am skeptical of any candidate who is aligned with those unions because much of their agenda is in direct conflict with what is best for the city’s residents. While the city government continues to ignore potholes and broken street lights, they seem happy to pay six figure public safety salaries and six figure public safety pensions. Until the city council takes action to control such spending, the city’s budget will be in trouble for the foreseeable future.

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  3. Sophia Hinder says:

    The press speaks for the people on this one. David Glass is a poor leader who has done nothing but block Petaluma’s economic revitalization by causing lawsuits only to claim credit for them later.

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  4. ()() says:

    @ Ray Johnson
    Noticed that I only asked IF you were involved in the lawsuit. I did not state that you were involved in it. I apologize to anyone who may have thought otherwise.

    As for Rainier, your comment at the first candidates forum was to get state and federal money to pay for it period. Obviously somebody clued you in on the inside the city limits fact that you should have known beforehand. I stand by Petaluma not needing someone that doesn’t know something as important as that.

    And debate me? I’m not the one with something to prove to the people.

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  5. BigDogatPlay says:

    As a three decade taxpaying resident of Petaluma the last person I want to see in the mayor’s chair is David Glass. I wouldn’t vote for him if his was the only name on the ballot. Next to Mayor Torliatt, Glass is the personification of everything that is wrong.

    Mayne for Mayor…. oooookay. But anyone who brings the endorsement of the police and firefighter unions to the party raises suspicions for me. After all, it’s pretty transparent what the unions would be expecting, eh? Yes, he is a small businessman and presumably has a good understanding of what needs to be done. But I haven’t seen, yet, what exactly he will be able to do to get the city back on track. So far he’s shown me nothing but a lot of talk and a nice beard.

    Jason Davies…. endorsed by Tiffany “Gunboats” Renee and Pam Torliatt. Just what Petaluma needs, another starry eyed progressive on the council with an agenda to grow government control and no plan to curb wasteful spending and litigation.

    The rest of the potential selections for council are, as usual, largely uninspiring and precious little is known about any of them save for Mike Harris (who I will vote for), Teresa Barrett (see stars in eyes progressive above) and David Glass (who I wouldn’t even if I was drunk).

    From the governor’s office all the way down to city council, the 2010 election is a slate of poor to worse choices, largely.

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  6. Ray Johnson says:

    Somebody named 00 – aptly named for sure, writes the following comments regarding me
    Isn’t he one of the ones who sued the city? Yeah we need him on the council like we need more holes in our heads.

    Though I agree regarding the “holes in the head” I did not sue the City.

    Regarding Rainier, I did say the only way it is affordable at this point based on the Cities revenue would be State or Federal grants though that cannot happen as the project is solely within City limits

    So if “00″ would like to debate, I’m available 24/7

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  7. Mayne For Mayor says:

    Jeff Mayne never once was quoted saying that he felt that the addition of two shopping centers would save Petaluma. It was just one of plenty of other amazing ideas that will greatly benefit our town and bring it back to life. David Glass already proved how horrible his leadership skills are because he was already mayor and did absolutely nothing to help our town, which is VERY clear because we are still in massive amounts of financial debt. How can you be so sure Glass won’t drop his seat as Mayor like he did last time? It makes sense to vote for someone reliable who will actually continue out his entire term and truly prove that he has leadership skills. Aside from that Jeff Mayne has already received the top endorsements of Petaluma including the Petaluma Fire Department AND the Police Department as well as many local unions who see his potential. Clearly the Press Democrat knows what they are doing by endorsing Jeff Mayne. He is an intelligent, passionate, and extraordinary man who will undoubtedly help Petaluma and its local citizens.

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  8. Ray M. says:

    00, your choices make little sense. You want status quo on the council. More roadblocks, more “no growth,” more gridlock.

    How much more in taxes and fees are you prepared to pay in order to have your gridlock system?

    I get it. You are one of those NIMBY’s. You have yours but nobody else can have theirs. Stop being a part of the problem and become a part of the solution.

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  9. ()() says:

    Once again the PD makes choices that make little sense.

    Jeff Mayne for mayor – Your own article says that you don’t have much faith in him. (quote) An able mayor can set the tone. On that score, frankly, we have concerns about Glass and Mayne. (unquote). Unlike David Glass (who will get my vote), Mayne has never shown anything in the way of leadership skills. He thinks that building two shopping centers (Regency and Deer Creek) will solve all of Petaluma’s problems. If shopping centers are the answer then why is Rohnert Park having financial problems? His plans cannot and will not work.

    Mike Harris for council – Mike is a nice guy who calls people back and communicates well but that’s it. He is a rising star in the Republican Party who hasn’t risen very much because he has never shown much in leadership ability. He simply follows the desires of the development concerns that make up much of his campaign financial support. He had the chance to come out against the Dutra asphalt plant when the original EIR was being done and he declined to do so.

    Ray Johnson – Ousted member of the Planning Commission. Isn’t he one of the ones who sued the city? Yeah we need him on the council like we need more holes in our heads. I loved his line at the candidate’s forum about “throwing the baby out with the dishwater” and his absense of knowledge about Rainier Ave. Sorry but he is completely clueless.

    Jason Davies for council – Now this is a surprise move by the PD. Unlike the others, Davies actually has a lot to bring to the Petaluma City council. He works for a local tech company and is already working on getting businesses to come to Petaluma. He’s smart and dedicated to making Petaluma better. Unlike the rest of the PD endorsements, Jason Davies gets my vote along with the extremely experienced and dedicated Teresa Barrett.

    At least the PD didn’t endorse Karen Nau.

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