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Santa Rosa: Gorin, Ours and Bartley win

Sonoma County Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Gale, left, Santa Rosa Mayor Susan Gorin and Marty Roberts talk at the Democratic headquarters in Santa Rosa on election night. CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/PD


Santa Rosa Mayor Susan Gorin and two of the three candidates backed by the city’s business interests won a hard-fought race for City Council on Tuesday.

With all precincts reporting, Gorin led all candidates with 21 percent of the vote, followed by Jake Ours and Scott Bartley each with 17 percent.

Seven candidates were seeking three council seats, including those held by incumbents Gorin and council member Veronica Jacobi, who fell short with 15 percent of the vote.

The results could portend a major philosophical shift on the council, with the balance of power swinging to a majority backed by the city’s business interests.

The current council majority, which Gorin and Jacobi are part of, gained power in 2008 with the backing of local labor and environmental groups.

Larry Haenel, a retired teacher who also sought a council seat, has views that put him in that camp. He had 15 percent of the vote Tuesday night.

Gorin on Tuesday said she felt “great” about her early showing in the election night tally.

“I knew this was going to be a tough race because it’s a challenging time in our community,” she said. “I think what we are seeing nationally is a reaction against incumbents because of the dire economic conditions. I think that’s playing out in Santa Rosa.”

John Sawyer, left, talks with Scott Bartley, Nicole Ours and Jake Ours at Chrome Lotus on election night. CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/PD

Bartley, an architect, said he would interpret his election and that of Ours as the public taking “corrective action” for the council.

“It’s going to to be up to us to make sure we are going to follow through on that,” Bartley said.

Bartley called any concerns that a new council majority would be bought and paid for by the city’s business interests — a charge levied at previous majorities on Santa Rosa councils prior to the 2008 philosophical shift — “a pretty narrow and shallow view what of our community is. I think once we are past the election the rhetoric on both sides needs to disappear.”

Ours, the former chairman of the Santa Rosa Redevelopment Agency board of directors, said he would not foresee any problems working with Gorin or council members Gary Wysocky and Marsha Vas Dupre, who collectively make up the coalition backed by environmentalists.

“The whole thing is about the economy of the city and how we get ourselves out of the this hole,” Ours said.

The business interests that supported Bartley and Ours accused the council majority of being blind to economic realities, citing the denial of the Lowe’s Home Improvement store on Santa Rosa Avenue, the installation of parking pay stations downtown and the focus on projects such as the efforts to make Humboldt Street more bicycle-friendly as examples of their misplaced priorities.

Juan Hernandez, the third candidate on the slate backed by business groups, held 11 percent of the vote.

Joanna Schaefer, a 27-year-old law school graduate, trailed the field with 4 percent of the vote.

Among the issues in the race were public pension costs, with Jacobi advocating capping employee pensions between $100,000 and $125,000.

Santa Rosa’s police and fire unions backed the business slate, with both groups contributing a combined $20,000 toward efforts to unseat Gorin and Jacobi.

The North Coast Builders’ Exchange and the Alliance added $20,000 — money that went toward a wave of ads accusing Gorin and Jacobi of contributing to what they contend is the city’s reputation as a bad place to do business.

In the money race, Jacobi had $47,000 on hand — more than any of the other candidates, resulting mostly from personal loans.

Gorin and Bartley were nearly tied, raising nearly $40,000 combined.

All told, the six active candidates for the council raised just over $185,000 for the race, with final numbers not available for several more weeks.

Despite the acrimony, several of the candidates said they could work with their fellow councilmembers no matter which side of the philosophical debate they fall on.

“I think I’ve got a fairly good track record of working with whoever you need to work with to get from point A to point B,” Bartley said. “The only thing that infuriates me is when we can’t get from one place to another.”

Said Haenel: “Of course it’s going to be difficult to bring businesses to Santa Rosa and create jobs, but we have to do everything we can to accomplish that goal.”

5 Responses to “Santa Rosa: Gorin, Ours and Bartley win”

  1. john bly says:

    All of the candidates worked hard and gave of themselves-thanks for stepping up and running for office. Congratulations to Gorin, Bartley and Ours. To the new Council-I urge you to work together as the problems we face will require compromise, collaboration, and consensus.

  2. cherie maria says:

    Susan Gorin 21,355 21.2%
    Jake Ours 17,402 17.3%
    Scott Bartley 16,870 16.8%
    Veronica Jacobi 15,420 15.3%
    Larry Haenel 14,984 14.9%
    Juan M Hernandez 10,788 10.7%
    Joanna M Schaefer 3,673 3.6%
    Write-in candidate(s) 151 0.2%

    1500 votes is not a mandate from above. The real news story in all of this is how much money was spent to win those seats, where that money came from is actually the even more compelling news story.

  3. Money makers says:

    Yes, the people who largely dedicate their lives to making money are probably going to be better at it than those who don’t. They can take the money and run. “I got mine, you get yours”, right? Getting more political power is key.

  4. Noah says:

    Permanent, unending growth is a stupid way to organize an economy. It has done wonders for us, hasn’t it? Well, it has, if you’re one of the very few.

    We need sustainable economics. We don’t need to keep building and keep cramming more people in here for more tax revenues. If the developer slate does get a foothold in office again, it will be to our great disadvantage, but the builders and their friends will do just fine.

    They know how to make money, and that’s why the great majority of us suffer.

  5. Jobs? says:

    Ok, they better deliver. Ours said SR could have the same growth as San Rafael did, 190% retail, 223% property values.

    We’re waiting and watching.