Mayor Pam Stafford has been the target of five hammering attack mailers so far in this election for Rohnert Park’s City Council, more than any other council candidate. Of the others, just former city manager Carl Leivo has been subjected to an attack mailer, one that went out last week.
The anti-Stafford mailers, which have gone out over the past two weeks, have slammed her for policy and spending decisions. They’ve also attacked her for supporting Codding Enterprises’ $1 billion housing and commercial use project, Sonoma Mountain Village, on the city’s south edge. The latest hit residents’ mailboxes Friday.
Stafford said Friday she’s usually not bothered by the attacks, which she characterizes as largely lies and distortions of her record.
When she ran in 2008 for a second term on the council, she was the subject of similar attacks. Then, she recalled, she was castigated for supporting a controversial ban on nonprofits’ firework sales, even though she’d voted against the ban and herself worked in a nonprofit’s fireworks booth.
“Now they’re just taking figures and they’re making them what they want them to be,” she said.
The latest mailer devotes one of its two pages to highlighting Stafford’s votes in relation to Sonoma Mountain Village and says that Codding Enterprises bought Stafford off as part of its “payback.”
Codding Enterprises, through an independent committee named Protect Rohnert Park, is supporting Stafford and Chamber of Commerce chairman Amy Ahanotu for the two open council seats.
The Protect Rohnert Park committee has spent at least $10,000 on Stafford’s and Ahanotu’s behalf, but that is far less than the committee funding the attacks on Stafford. That committee, Citizens for Change, has spent about $27,000 going after Stafford, campaign finance reports show. Its only known donors are residents James Henley and Bruce Hotaling, who have declined to comment about the committee.
“Clearly there’s a hidden agenda against Pam. But with that said, the politics in Rohnert Park has always been dysfunctional, with power grabs between multiple parties,” said longtime political consultant Rob Muelrath, who has been at the helm of other biting attacks against Rohnert Park council candidates, including current Councilman Jake Mackenzie and former Councilwoman Vicki Vidak-Martinez.
“It’s really just dirty, and it’s always been that way in Rohnert Park,” said Muelrath, who in this election is advising John Borba.
– Jeremy Hay