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