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Endorsement Watch: Santa Rosa City Council

Scott Bartley

Seven candidates are seeking three seats on the Santa Rosa City Council: Scott Bartley, Susan Gorin, Larry Haenel, Juan M. Hernandez, Veronica Jacobi, Jake Ours and Joanna M. Schaefer.

The Press Democrat Editorial Board endorsed Scott Bartley, Jake Ours and Susan Gorin for City Council on Oct. 3. 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 candidates answered the WSC questionnaire on local issues.

CLICK HERE to watch a video of the candidates’ Sept. 27 debate.

PD EDITORIAL:  Santa Rosa City Council
Bartley, Ours and Gorin best suited to lead in troubling times

Jake Ours

From the slate-driven rhetoric that dominates this fall’s City Council race, Santa Rosa is presented as a city of two tales.

In one, the community is governed by a council that is divided, disorganized and inhospitable to the business climate of the community. In the other, the council is harmonious, committed to “green” economic development and has done all it can to cut spending in the midst of an unprecedented 14 percent drop in tax revenue over two years.

The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle of these narratives. However, one thing is undeniable — Santa Rosa is adrift in this “new normal” economy and is in need of a new council majority that will provide vision and clear direction for a new city manager, Kathy Millison, who begins her job Monday.

We believe the candidates best suited to work together in setting that new course are Scott Bartley, Jake Ours and Susan Gorin.

Susan Gorin

Bartley, 53, has 10 years of experience on the Design Review Board and seven years on the Planning Commission. No candidate can match his experience and understanding of the workings of City Hall, particularly in the realm of planning. More important, Bartley, an architect, offers an even-keel approach to navigating the rough financial waters ahead. He strongly supports economic revitalization, the need to reform retirement benefits for public employees so they are sustainable for the city and changing the perception that Santa Rosa is hostile to new business. His track record shows that he has been a responsible steward of the city’s landscape — and its future.

Similarly, no candidate can match what Jake Ours, 69, has to offer. While many talk about the need for economic development, he has done it. As the director of economic development in San Rafael for 16 years, Ours was the point person for the transformation of that city’s downtown into a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly destination. Since retiring, Ours has served on the Santa Rosa Redevelopment Agency board and the Housing Authority for eight years. He has already offered some promising ideas, including a strategy for encouraging the owners of the Santa Rosa Plaza to open up Fourth Street, creating a cut-through to Railroad Square. Santa Rosa needs this kind of grand, proactive thinking — and the kind of people, like Ours, who can help get it done.

Finally, we support Susan Gorin as we did four years ago. We’ve had our share of disagreements with Gorin during her tenure as mayor. We disapproved of her handling of the selection of interim City Manager Wayne Goldberg — an unnecessary poke in the eye of former City Manager Jeff Kolin and the business community — and her role in the majority decision to press ahead with the selection of a new top administrator despite dissension on the council and the paucity of qualified candidates. A preferable course would have been to wait until voters had their say on Nov. 2.

Nevertheless, Gorin, 58, is an articulate and passionate advocate of the more progressive, pro-environmental perspectives in the community. Moreover, she has shown a strong desire to work with all segments of the community to address the problems that exist. Given her background as a member of the Planning Commission and the Board of Public Utilities, she has a thorough understanding of the workings of the city and deserves another term.

Among the other candidates, Juan Hernandez, 48, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is a relative newcomer to city politics. The owner of a computer repair business and the motorcycle-training operation at the fairgrounds, has broad experience as a volunteer for local nonprofits and other groups. Given his firsthand experiences, he has good ideas about what the city can do to help owners of small businesses get started.

Larry Haenel, 69, is a respected former English teacher, a six-year member of the Santa Rosa School Board and a former president of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association. Haenel is without peer in terms of his involvement with education and youth sports. But he has little direct experience with city politics to offer.

Joanna Schaefer, 27, is a bright young attorney who also has a passion for public service. But she also cannot match the others in terms of breadth of experience.

Incumbent Veronica Jacobi, 52, is a mechanical engineer who has served on the council since 2006. She speaks well about environmental causes, but she is unimpressive in her command of the economic realities facing the city and can point to few accomplishments as a City Council member beyond the creation of the city’s first “Car Free Sunday,” to be held Oct. 10.

Bicycles are important. But it’s time the city goes in a new direction — one toward fiscal responsibility and back-to-basics decision-making.

We believe Scott Bartley, Jake Ours and Susan Gorin are most qualified to move the city in that critical direction.





22 Responses to “Endorsement Watch: Santa Rosa City Council”

  1. Tom Dering says:

    And Richard,

    My wife and I just listened to the entire candidates debate put out by the LWV and came away with the same conclusion. We pretty much had to watch most of it to get there, but both agreed easily towards the end. The debate did tell us.

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  2. So I voted today and guess what…??? I ignored the Post Democrat and most of the Chamber of Commerce type entries on this board and voted for the best people running for the office. Susan Goren is an easy choice and so are Larry Haenel, and Veronica Jacobi. One wonders if the Post Democrat or most of the above posters here have ever walked all of the urban trails in Santa Rosa or used a bicycle to get around Santa Rosa. One also wonders if the Press Democrat really understands the monumental environmental issues facing Santa Rosa and the rest of the world. If they did they would be recommending those people who have a real understanding of them. If the slate recommended by the PD gets elected we will stumble back into the strip development and hillside construction and dangerous streets of the past. Vote for the future, not the past.

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  3. Billy C says:

    I am a avid bike rider and a “green business” owner. I support the “SMART TRAIN” and bike lanes to a point.
    I can NOT support Goren or the progressives any longer!
    I own property within the “Station area plan” and had found out that it was rezoned with out my knowledge to “high density housing”. This change made my
    and many other business properties almost worthless.This negatively affected me and 36 other business employing over 400 people.(we have since gotten a 10 year reprieve) We where told it was for the good of the community. Really is it?
    Do we need 3 thousand more housing units and less jobs? Do we need a bike friendly transit village instead of
    businesses that pay taxes? The progressive ACD and bike coalition say yes we do.
    I say Santa Rosa is in trouble and in a state of decline.We can no longer afford bike experiments and monuments. I think we need people Like Bartley,Ours and Hernandez.

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  4. jason Valez says:

    Gorin is a proponent of smartgrowth. Yet she lives in a single family home in Fountaingrove. She and nearly every other progressive don’t practice what they preach. They want us to move to a downtown apartment or condo with no yard but they will not do it. And just because she rode a bike once or twice does not mean she lives the life she wants us to live.

    The progressives have signed onto an agenda being put forward by ICLEI. This group has over 500 member cities in the United States. Valerie Brown, a Sonoma County supervisor is on the board of directors of ICLEI U.S.A.

    ICLEI stands for International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. It’s been around since the United Nations lauched its Agenda 21 program in 1992 and they have been gaining traction ever since. There’s 1.4 million references to the program on Google. The progressive agenda matches exactly everything that is being pushed bt ICLEI. They are against use of private vehicles, and are against private property ownership. They preach that the American lifestyle is unsustainable and must be curtailed. Their ideas about making draconian cuts in energy use, transportation, and living arrangements are antithetical to our traditional values.

    If their plan is so good, why do they persist in keeping the program a secret. The Sonoma County board of supervisors recently awarded $83,000 to ICLEI for consulting work. How many people out there knew this was happening? How many people knew that Santa Rosa joined ICLEI in 2007? How many people knew that ICLEI award Bob Blanchard their ‘Cool Mayor” award? Why hasn’t the Press Democrat ever mentioned any of this?

    It’s time for people to learn more about the plan that will severely limit the freedoms that we have in our country. These ideas about how we must live our lives are coming from outside the United States and that’s why they don’t want people to know about it. Susan Gorin, as mayor needs to come clean about it. If she wants us to live in a crowded downtown apartment and give up our private cars, then she needs to do it herself. Otherwise she is a hypocrite.

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  5. Lyn Cramer says:

    I will not vote for Goring, but I don’t understand statements like “Gorin is a phony, pure and simple.” Why?

    She rode her bike a long way (on a rainy day) to speak before a meeting I attended. Nothing phony about that. She came across as a sincere person, willing to listen to others, respectful and polite.

    But we differ on core issues on local government. Her critics, however, do her an injustice by engaging in nasty name-calling.

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  6. Jason Valez says:

    If I hear the words ‘bike-friendly’ and ‘vibrant’ one more time I’m gonna…

    Gorin is a phony, pure and simple. She ‘feels your pain’ but is the cause of it. Small business people know the misery of trying to make a living here. Rules, regs, fees, taxes, BIA’s, whatever they can think of to ‘drop local’ they will.

    Get rid of Gorin. Ours, Bartley, and Hernandez at least will take the majority away from these people who don’t have to work for a living. Wysocky would be mayor if they keep the majority and the sight of his smirk is too much.

    Bartley, Ours, Hernandez. They’re not going to spend $1 million on bike roundabouts.

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  7. Dean Brooks says:

    Frankly I am surprised that the PD has endorsed Gorin. Exactly what has she done except run the city into the ground by pleasing some bike coalition and following the other lobbying group that funneled money and stuff into defeating the legal right of Lowe’s to bring BUSINESS into Santa Rosa.
    She has proven to be a stellar politician talking out of both sides of her mouth, but little more than that when it comes to any action. Hell, she can’t even make a decision on Humboldt st.
    Now they want another study….It is time to oust these people that have done no more than occupied a seat and created division in the city.
    Oh, we better have a study on whether they did that or not!
    Think about this, Hernandez can’t screw it up more than Gorin already has. Give some new blood a chance to represent the city without kissing some coalitions rear.

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  8. Dave Gladstone says:

    I must say I’m surprised with the endorsement of Gorin – say what you will about the other candidates (other than Jacobi, who’s no-brainer in more ways than one) – but Susan Gorin has proven herself to be inept time and time again on the council.

    She is a glad-handler during meetings and pernicious and sharp-tongued outside of them, and this approach has gotten Santa Rosa as far as a bicycle would at the Indy 500.

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  9. Geoff Johnson says:

    The endorsement summarized that:

    “Bicycles are important. But it’s time the city goes in a new direction — one toward fiscal responsibility and back-to-basics decision-making.”

    So it’s amusing that the Downtown, pro-business, regional monopoly daily paper has recommended two longtime City Hall insiders, to take SR “in a new direction “:

    “Bartley, 53, has 10 years of experience on the Design Review Board and seven years on the Planning Commission. No candidate can match his experience and understanding of the workings of City Hall, particularly in the realm of planning.”

    And:

    “Since retiring, Ours has served on the Santa Rosa Redevelopment Agency board and the Housing Authority for eight years.”

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  10. Dan Delgado says:

    I understood that Bartley & Co had an agreement with the public safety folks to talk about the pension issue. How is that a “deal?”. Sounds like grandstanding to me and worthy of little acknowledgment. On the other hand, it doesn’t sound like the nefarious back room deal some would have us believe. Maybe we should set the tone and avoid the hyperbole if we expect the candidates to do also.

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  11. Political Scientist says:

    I wonder if adding Goran to the end of their endorsement is actually meant to tear her down. We all know the PD’s endorsement can be the kiss of death- wishful thinking?

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  12. cat says:

    @bobW
    how do you know what went on at the meeting? was you at it? Was you the fly on the wall? The fact is that the City Council has people on it that just needs to go away. It’s time to clean house as the old saying goes and with luck Gary W. will be voted out when his time is up. In case you did not go to the last City Council meeting check out Gary W. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxvYMVvgSUc

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  13. @PD says:

    I like the selections. It shows PD didn’t automatcially choose the “business-friendly” candidates since they nubbed Herndandez. And they recognized Gorin’s effort to work with both sides of the divided council. When we vote Wysockbully and VD out, I think we’ll be good to go!

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  14. Fred Krueger says:

    A recent study by the University of Montana’s School of Economics shows a direct correlation between strong local environmental regulations, a healthy climate for business and quality of life for citizens. The Press-Democrat however seems oblivious to these findings because it habitually recommends either pro-development candidates or individuals who are slam-dunk candidates to win. In this knee-jerk formula toward local elections the P-D does our community a disservice by not genuinely grasping the relationship between the political orientation of candidates and community health. Instead we repeatedly witness the same tired old attitude toward local elections in which the PD supports the pro-development candidates without any reflection on their negative impact on our community. Its time for the PD to rethink its responsibility to our community, and particularly to bring a more human approach to quality of life issues – instead of laying a corporate mentality on its decision-making. We can do better. In this regard no candidate has been more relentlessly pro-development with only slight concern for neighborhood issues than Scott Bartley. How can Santa Rosa citizens build a better community with such tired old attitudes that thinks more of moneyed interests than neighborhood interests? This perspective is founded in the voting record of Mr. SB as he too often tilted toward developer interests during his time on the Planning Commission. How can we expect anything different from this person if he were to be elected to the City Council? Shame on the PD for endorsing such a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

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  15. Bob Warren says:

    The Press Democrat’s credibility takes another dive. In the past few years the PD has consistenly tarred progressive and environmental candidates such as Marsha Vos Dupre, Shirlee Zane and Noreen Evans as being “too close” to unions. In fact I believe this what cited as a reason not to endorse Ms Zane last election. You (incorrectly)stated that by simlpy signing a pledge to advocate on behalf of workers rights to organize they had made themselves “beholden”to the union and were unable to represent ALL constituents interests. Now your paper has endorsed two candidates who have admitted that they met and made deals with the police and fire unions behind closed doors. Jake Ours and Scott Bartley both acknowledged in the debate that they had a “deal” regarding pensions. This is the worse kind of vote trading and politiking and puts everyone on notice that these candidates care more about getting elected than what the city needs. Yet your paper endorses them and presumably their unsavory political vote trading. The issue wasn’t event mentioned in your endorsement. The fact that the PD has such an obvious double standard is certainly proved, now all that remains is to discover why candidates were treated so differently. Is it because Zane and Dupre are women and Ours and Barltly men, or is it because Zane and Dupre are Progressives and Ours and Barley represent the PD’s Business adverstisers? Either way it it is disturbing and makes your editorial board look like hypocrites.

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  16. zuma says:

    HERNANDEZ AND BARTLEY YES – OURS NO

    I am leaning toward Hernandez and Bartley but see no great economic thinkers or super strong credentials in either.

    Ours is a diff. story! He has failed this city in redevelopment and I see nothing in him that gives me confidence.

    So vote Hernandez and Barley. Keep OURS out of govt, he hasnt done anything for this city!

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  17. Inside Eye says:

    What the PEE DEE got right here is that IS time for a change. We need new blood, new council members. Rid our counsel of dead wood. This council has run businesses out of town; came up with that CRAZY BIA tax; and continues to put parking enforcement over business enhancement and revenue models of other successful cities. We need a council that is business friendly; yank the parking meters out and encourage local tourism and shopping (SHOP LOCAL DARN IT). These council members are always high-and-mighty and are non-approachable. E. Oliveras still has his ties to the Police Department and has never responded to communications from the public. We need fresh blood- moms/business owners/ locals who understand the needs of the community and will start mending fences between business owners and the City. Also really time to get rid of the red tape at City Hall. Very hard to open a business; get a permit; pretty much do anything is an all day task because these city employees all have a chip on their shoulder- starts from the top down baby top down!!!! New top = better base.

    Thumb up 26 Thumb down 10

  18. Dave Madigan says:

    Don’t Re-Elect Incumbent Politicians!

    Throw the bums out.

    (is the word “bums” allowed?)

    Thumb up 27 Thumb down 13

  19. hansutro says:

    I have to compliment the PD on making fairly decent choices on their support of Bartley and Ours. One glaring question is I notice that of the seven candidates, they had no negative comments of only three, and puzzling is that by not having any negatives of Juan Hernandez….. puzzling is why did he not get the third spot in the endorsements?

    Are they covering their bets, perhaps?

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  20. RICHARD CANINI says:

    QUESTIONS FOR MR J. OURS:

    While you were on the Redevelopment Agency [RA] board:

    Did the RA know about the real estate bubble ? Why RA buy real estate at the height of the real estate bubble ?

    Did the RA know, buying the AT&T property would remove it from the property tax rolls ?

    How much property tax was AT&T paying for that property before RA bought it ?

    Why did RA sell the building a loss of more than a million dollars ? How much was the loss ?

    You spoke against paying prevailing wage to workers on the AT&T building remodel. Why do you oppose prevailing wage ?

    Agency has spent at least $ 12.5 Million on Hyatt. How much has been returned / re-payed ?

    What happens if RA can not meet bond payments ? If there is no tax increment, what happens ?

    Are Santa Rosa property owners as liable for RA bond debt as they for muni bonds ?

    Why did RA payroll increase from about $ 0.5 Million in 2007 to $1 Million in 2008 ?

    In 2008 RA expenses were $12.8 Million, revenues were $9.8 Million. How was this deficit covered ?

    In 2009 RA expenses were $15.8 Million, revenues were $9.2 Million. How was this deficit covered.

    RA agency debt increased to about $ 60 Million. How is this good for our city ?

    While you were a board member, RA lost $9.6 Million. Do you acknowledge any responsibility for this loss ?

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  21. Wow. I hope the second to last sentence here isn’t the PD “editorial board” slyly foreshadowing their version of the new & improved manufactured (read: malarkey) antagonist vs. protagonist factions in our community…

    I have no numbers to back it up, but it sure seems to me that one of the single largest sources of real/actual economic development in Santa Rosa in the last 2 years has had EVERYTHING to do with them “bicycle people” getting off their asses and making things happen here. I, for one, am proud of all their hard work – and significant fantastic progress. I am also excited about the bicycle friendly possibilities now that the foothold is strong and the economy has every indication of being somewhere about the bottom of the curve!

    To offhandedly imply that bicycles are “cute and everything”, but they have nothing to do with “real fiscal responsibility” shows just what a dinosaur and how out of touch your anonymous editorial board is with my community.

    ~Jake Bayless

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  22. Mike says:

    The Santa Rosa City Council needs to take a new direction. Gorin has not served Santa Rosa well. She is antibusiness and has led the city budget into the ditch. She does not support the budget cutting, downsizing and labor negotiations that it will take to make Santa Rosa’s revenues match its expenditures. The Council cannot continue to kick the can down the road as they say.

    Gorin supports the SMART train, the $40 million dollar public works meeting room costing us outrageous sewer fees, $850,000 bike roundabouts, low cost housing which is paid for by our taxes and is not cost effective to name a few of her pet projects.

    A new direction means a new council that believes in really controlling the city budget and is pro business. We can turn this city around and begin to develop a business base to create jobs.

    Vote for Ours, Hernandez and Bartley.

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