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Three committees key in Rohnert Park council race

By JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Independent political committees spending tens of thousands of dollars will play a key role in Rohnert Park’s City Council elections, the latest campaign finance reports make clear.

While five candidates have taken in a combined $39,000 and spent a combined $44,000, two opposing committees alone have already spent a combined $26,500 on campaign signs and mail pieces, the reports show.

A third, the influential Rohnert Park Peace Officers Association, or POA, has in previous elections spent as much as $35,000. It filed no finance statements for the latest reporting period, from July 1 to Sept. 30.

On Tuesday, POA announced endorsements of two candidates — Planning Commission chairman John Borba and former City Manager Carl Leivo — and said it had just begun campaign efforts.

Finance statements and fliers paid for by the other two committees suggest that much of the race may revolve around two of the six council candidates, Mayor Pam Stafford and former City Manager Leivo.

Stafford’s is one of two seats up for grabs.

One committee, funded entirely by real estate development firm Codding Enterprises, is called Protect Rohnert Park, Opposing Carl Leivo and John Borba and supporting Pam Stafford and Amy Ahanotu for City Council 2010.

Its first election flier arrived in mailboxes Wednesday, headlined, “Be careful, there is more to Carl Leivo than meets the eye … and it’s dangerous for Rohnert Park.”

Codding Enterprises contributed $10,000 to the committee, which has spent $9,239 so far, the statements show.

The second committee, funded by a handful of Rohnert Park residents, is called Citizens for Change, Oppose Reelection of Pam Stafford for City Council.

Finance statements show the committee has spent $17,122 since July. The bulk of its contributions are from two residents, James Henley and Bruce Hotaling, who contributed $6,000 and $5,900 respectively.

The committee has sent out two fliers that say, “Don’t vote for Mayor Pam Stafford,” and charge her with a battery of fiscally irresponsible actions.

The Protect Rohnert Park committee is headed by veteran political consultant Herb Williams. When asked about Codding Enterprises’ interest in the election, he said, “Sonoma Mountain Village is committed to Rohnert Park, and there’s concern with the city’s financial viability in the future.”

Codding Enterprises is developing Sonoma Mountain Village, a $1 billion, mixed use development on the city’s south edge. A divided City Council approved the project in August. Stafford was one of three votes in favor of it.

Asked whether defeating Leivo would be the focus of the committee’s campaign, Williams said, “We’re for two people and against two people. The best way to do that is one person at a time.”

The forces behind the Citizens for Change committee are less clear. Rohnert Park resident Mary Langton filed the committee’s statement of organization, and her fiance, Bruce Hotaling, is one of its two major donors.

But Hotaling on Wednesday said he wouldn’t comment on who organized the committee or its goals.

Leivo, asked why he thought had been targeted by the Protect Rohnert Park committee, said it was because he met with Codding Enterprises officials about Sonoma Mountain Village, and “I did not support their projects 100 percent.”

Borba, who in the Protect Rohnert Park committee’s flier is referred to only once as Leivo’s “running mate,” said “it’s unfair” that he is being grouped with Leivo.

“This is all just garbage. I’m John Borba, I’m not Carl Leivo,” he said. Borba has said he supports Sonoma Mountain Village.

Follow the money

CLICK HERE TO dig deeper into the Rohnert Park candidates’ campaign finance reports





9 Responses to “Three committees key in Rohnert Park council race”

  1. Brass Tacks says:

    The continued attacks on the Accountable Development Coalition are part of a deliberate strategy of misrepresentation by the forces who would like to return to the “good old days” where the Chamber and the developers called the shots without any ‘interference’ from community groups. The balance of power has shifted, and they want it back.

    The ADC was formed out of the recognition that it is necessary to have an organized and united voice for advocates for environmental, labor, housing, and land-use/transit-oriented development. Rather than deal with these issues on an ad hoc basis, the ADC seeks to promote a consistent progressive policy platform that will help shape development to serve the interests of the the whole community, not just an handful of monied special interests.

    The collaboration of the ADC with Codding Enterprises was based on the exemplary work that is being done at the Sonoma Mountain Village project. The ADC endorsed that project because it represents a model of how we will need to contruct our communities in the 21st century. That’s the agenda, right out in the open.

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  2. Graeme Wellington says:

    Every election in RP is an accusation fest. But the decision is easy this time. If you go with the Jake Mackenzie crowd, Rohnert Park will spend it’s efforts condemning George Bush, US immigration policy, global warming, happy meals at Mc Donalds – everything except what they should be doing. They spent more on a “green” building than 500 years of PG&E bills at the old building.

    However, you can instead choose to elect people who will focus on fixing the streets, maintaining the trees and landscaping, cleaning up the parks, re-opening the pools and and schools.

    It’s all very nice the existing Jake council wants to take the politically correct stance on every issue facing the nation. But really, Rohnert Park needs to get back into the business of restoring the city to the great place to live it once was.

    Do you think Jake Mackenzie and his ilk are going to ease the way for business and commerce in Rohnert Park…? or is he going to make every business with central heating install a CO2 scrubber to save the planet or some ridiculous thing.

    You need to kick out the incumbents and put some new faces in there. At the very least the city council meetings will get a little more interesting. But they have to save the city, the world is beyond their reach, but this mindset does reveal the present leadership as incompetent.

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  3. Sophie Hinder says:

    Don’t be fooled by Borba. He and Leivo are peas in a pod, and do not care about Rohnert Park.

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  4. Rosario Gonzalez says:

    Interesting that the Coddings have hired Herb Williams AND the Accountable Development Coalition. What this tells me is that both are hired guns who will do whatever the money tells them to do.

    Herb Williams is clearly in business to do just that and doesn’t hide it.

    The Accountable Development Coalition, on the other hand, paints itself as some environmental group that is looking out for ‘community’ when it’s obvious that they will run with their hand out if the money is waved in their direction.

    The Coddings are just big developers who are hedging their bets and have a lot of money to do so.

    Why don’t we just skip the elections and have the Coddings run the city?

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  5. Ted Appel says:

    Thanks for the head’s up. Link is now fixed.
    Ted Appel
    WSC Moderator

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  6. interested says:

    I am Unable to access the “Follow the Money” link at bottom of article above. (click here to dig deeper into the RP candidates finance reports) I am sure deeper digging will be quite interesting. I would hope this will be made available on here.

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  7. Ricardo Sorentino says:

    It’s really sad how elections have come down to spending so much money on getting elected or re-elected, from the presidency all the way down to the local mayor or city council elections. It’s mind boggling that people will spend 100 times or 1000 times the annual salary just to get in office. Naturally, if people and PAC’s are willing to do that, it makes it hard to think that there isn’t going to be some sort of payback or favoritism in return.

    With Rohnert Park, my rule of thumb is that whoever the Police Association wants in office, that’s who to vote AGAINST.

    The association’s main goal is to protect and enhance the overtime, medical and retirement benefits of it’s members, not in what’s the residents best fiscal interests.

    And when people collect and spend thousand’s of dollars for a specific candidate but don’t want to disclose their motivation, well, don’t you already know ‘why’ and where to place your vote?

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  8. Paying Attention says:

    Jeremy, thank you for posting who is behind the campaign money.

    Now we can use our cognitive skills to see who will benefit by supporting particular candidates.

    This is the kind of thing that I like to dig up – but Jeremy made it easy for me this time.

    I really wish we could get some decent people in office who would put the residents first, for once. I guess they don’t exist in politics.

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  9. RP Mom 1 says:

    Amazing that an orginization can spend over $17,000 to oppose a candidate but not say what thier goals are! Given that Bruce Hoatling has signs in favor of Carl Levio and John Borba in his front yard I would venture to guess they are friends of the POA. Just a guess but I don’t have to much else to go on since he is not willing to comment on what the committees goals are. Rohnert Park citzens need to be very careful and make sure they vote in this election.

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