Six candidates are seeking three seats on the Sebastopol City Council: Ronald Basso, Colleen Fernald, Sarah Glade Gurney, Michael Kyes, Maureen Shea and Patrick Slayter.
The Press Democrat Editorial Board endorsed Gurney, Slayter and Shea on Oct. 26. A copy of the editorial is attached below. Did the PD Editorial Board make the right decision? Disagree with the choices? Post a comment to share your thoughts with other members of the community.
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PD Editorial: In Sebastopol
Gurney, Slayter and Shea are best choices for City Council
Sebastopol gets its share of attention with its squabbles over leaf blowers, WiFi signals and SmartMeters. But what hasn’t gotten much notice is how well Sebastopol has fared in this recession relative to other California communities. The city has done its share of belt-tightening, but overall it has managed to balance its budget without job cuts or service reductions, and there are no major deficits on the horizon.
Nonetheless, economic development remains a significant issue in this fall’s City Council race as are perennial concerns about traffic and downtown parking. The next City Council also will be charged with updating the city’s general plan, establishing a community vision that was tested with the battle over the now-defunct Northeast Area Specific Plan targeted for the old apple-packing district. Voters have the responsibility of picking at least two new council members to help create that vision. We recommend the re-election of Mayor Sarah Gurney and the election of newcomers Patrick Slayter and Maureen Ann Shea.
Given decisions by longtime council members Larry Robinson and Linda Kelley not to seek re-election, Gurney stands to be the most experienced member on the council if re-elected. She should be. The city needs her perspective and leadership. Gurney, a 57-year-old mediation attorney who is serving her third term as mayor, is dedicated to preserving the small town charm of Sebastopol as well as the natural environment that permeates the community and its values. Gurney is not afraid to make difficult decisions and goes the extra mile — in holding town hall meetings, riding local buses, keeping office hours at the Farmers Market, etc. — to get input from residents.
Slayter, 44, an architect, is a promising voice of reason, responsibility and balance on the council. His experience on the Sebastopol Planning Commission and his background as an architect make him particularly well-suited to help with the general plan update. He has a passion for changes that would enhance not only the community’s economy but its quality of life. In particular, he has been a leader in the creation of a community “incubator” center where hometown entrepreneurs can get the advice, infrastructure and space they need to grow their businesses. As a founding member of Bike-Walk Sebastopol, he also has been working behind the scenes to create bike paths, including a much-needed north-south route.
Maureen Ann Shea, 59, is part owner of the Hot Tub Store and has lived in the community for 35 years. She has served on the Sonoma County grand jury, is a former board president of the Children’s Village and has worked on Sonoma County homeless issues. Shea is articulate and thoughtful and would provide a healthy balanced perspective on what the city can do to assist local businesses while maintaining community standards.
Among the other candidates, we believe Michael Kyes, 61, an energy efficiency consultant, and Sebastopol native Ron Basso, 52, the former owner of the R.S. Basso furniture chain, have much to offer in terms of life experience. A sixth candidate, Colleen Fernald, 48, an artist and sustainability consultant, is passionate about a spectrum causes but lacks the focus and experience of other candidates.
The Press Democrat recommends Sarah Gurney, Patrick Slayter and Maureen Ann Shea for Sebastopol City Council.