By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The list of contenders for the seventh Petaluma City Council seat, which likely will be filled early next year, may look a whole lot like the November ballot — only maybe longer.
Five of six serious candidates who unsuccessfully ran for election on Nov. 2 in Petaluma have confirmed they will seek to be appointed to the remaining two years of incoming Mayor David Glass’ council term.
Glass, who bested Jeff Mayne in the race for Petaluma mayor, will leave his council seat vacant once he is sworn into office in January. The city charter states the council “shall appoint a person to fill” the vacancy.
Mayne, Jason Davies, Ray Johnson, Gabe Kearney and Karen Nau, who all ran for council seats in November, confirmed this week they will seek the appointment while Wyatt Bunker said he hasn’t ruled it out.
Outgoing Mayor Pam Torliatt, who lost her bid for the 2nd District seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, also said Friday she may apply.
In addition, several unknowns may leap at the opportunity to serve the community, political consultant Terry Price said.
When the new council is sworn into office in January, its six members will be split 3-3 ideologically on how to manage city growth. New member Chris Albertson joins Mike Harris and Mike Healy as those perceived to be more welcoming of new development, while Glass, Teresa Barrett and Tiffany Renee favor closer scrutiny of building applications.
With that makeup, the appointed member becomes a crucial swing vote.
“There are going to be a lot of important decisions to be made,” Price said. “It’s going to be interesting because it’s a game of who do you trust.”
Most candidates who ran in November staked out their ideological territory and fall clearly into one camp or another.
Mayne, Johnson and Nau lean toward the Albertson-Harris-Healy bloc, while Davies, Kearney and Torliatt align with Glass-Barrett-Renee.
Torliatt, with 14 years on the council, and Nau, a one-term councilwoman from 2004-2008, can tout their experience in office.
“Experience and a proven track record serving the public’s interest are important qualifications,” Torliatt said.
Nau agreed, saying she can be the perfect middle-ground candidate: “I can hit the ground running and did not choose to be on any slate.”
Others are hoping to capitalize on a promise most candidates made while running in November — that they are consensus builders.
“It’s time to turn that talk into reality,” said Mayne. “It shouldn’t concern David (Glass) or Teresa (Barrett) or Tiffany (Renee) that anybody might have a viewpoint different than theirs because at the end of the day, we’re going to have to compromise and come up with something that works for everybody.”
Davies, who finished fourth in the race for three seats, was endorsed by Torliatt, Glass and Barrett but said that doesn’t necessarily define him.
“One of the risks of running and having publicized endorsements is people try to pin you in one camp or another. But I see it as a much more complex reality,” he said. “I reject the idea that you’re either pro-business or smart growth. I’m very pro-business. I think certain businesses are unfriendly to other business potentials.”
Johnson said he hopes to see cooperation, but wonders if the divided factions can put aside their differences.
Price suggested the factions may soon start planning how to make the important decision.
“Being as they are three members, they can meet without a Brown Act (open meetings law) violation,” he said. “Both sides will meet and put together their lists. It’s just a matter of if anyone is on both lists.”