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Familiar faces interested in Petaluma council vacancy


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.”

11 Responses to “Familiar faces interested in Petaluma council vacancy”

  1. Arnie Hopper says:

    @Kim “For those that want the next vote getter to be appointed, it doesn’t work that way. Petaluma is a “Charter” city, dealing with such a problem is in the city charter and will be followed….period!”

    Yes, the charter must be followed, but it isn’t correct to suggest the current charter prohibits the next council from considering the fourth highest vote-getter for the appointment. The charter simply calls for an application process, that may or may not include council candidates, or a special election.

    While it’s entirely up to the next council to decide, there’s nothing wrong with people who voted suggesting their votes be considered with respect to the appointment. What is odd is for someone to suggest there’s something wrong with considering the fourth highest vote-getter. As there’s nothing in the charter prohibiting this, why would someone suggest otherwise?

  2. Kim says:

    No Mr. Andersen, a three-three divide on the city council would not be the best course. If there is a three-three division the default would go to the no-growthers. Since nothing would pass they would get their way by default.

    For those that want the next vote getter to be appointed, it doesn’t work that way. Petaluma is a “Charter” city, dealing with such a problem is in the city charter and will be followed….period!

    There is no way that an equally divided council will agree on an appointed candidate. There is only one way that this will be solved, a special election, its plain and simple. Can the city afford it? Of course it can’t, but it will still happen anyway. And you can bet your bottom dollar that Pam Torliatt will be a candidate in the special election.

  3. Ned Humphrey says:

    Lori Carter should correct the following:

    “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.”

    Mayne ran for Mayor, not council. The reason there’s a council seat coming up is because Glass ran for Mayor and won – he didn’t run for council either. Mayne can certainly apply, but not from the position as a former council candidate, but rather as an unsuccessful Mayoral candidate.

    If we want to consider vote totals of those who didn’t run for council, why not examine the differential – who came closest to winning? Who was separated by the lowest vote total from the closest winning candidate? It wasn’t Mayne nor Torliatt as they both lost by over 1,000 votes.

    Regardless, it’s up to the next council to decide whether they want to consider vote count when making their selection. If they want to consider a Mayoral candidate, Council candidate, or someone who didn’t run, that is certainly their choice.

  4. BigDogatPlay says:

    “Experience and a proven track record serving the public’s interest are important qualifications,” Torliatt said.


    It’s nice to see the mayor being refreshingly honest. I trust that she will gracefully depart the council after her 14 years of divisive, agenda driven failure and let someone else step up and gain a little experience.

    I actually don’t mind whether the appointee comes from either camp. I simply am not comfortable with giving Pam another free bite at the apple in her quest to become a professional, and upwardly mobile, politician.

  5. Don’t appoint anyone. Am I the only one who thinks a 3-3 split council is a good idea?

    Neither side trusts the other so have the Council work on the things they can all agree on ( which is usually 90% or more) and leave all the controversial stuff on the backburner.

  6. Ned Humphrey says:

    The council can use any criteria they choose. I simply suggested that those who put themselves out for public scrutiny and actually received votes should be considered, since it’s a “free country” in which we have elections, rather than simply appointing people who received zero vote. Regardless, as the charter is written, there is no requirement that one being appointed receive any votes from the public, so it’s just going to be up to the new council if they want to take vote count into consideration. We’ll all just have to take a breath and wait a month or so.

  7. Concerned says:

    @Ned, who are you to say that ONLY people who ran for council should be considered for the open seat? This is a free country and anyone who applies for the position should be considered. I know many people in Petaluma that are qualified other than the few that ran for city council.

  8. Ned Humphrey says:

    Mayne didn’t run for council among a field of 9 candidates for three open seats. Comparing vote totals in the Mayoral race with just two viable candidates against those who ran for council makes no sense. Mayne could have ran for council but went for Mayor instead. Those who actually ran for council should be considered for the open council seat when it becomes available.

  9. Concerned says:

    @Camino Alto, you will do anything to get Jason Davies into that open seat. A few thousand people gave more votes to Torliatt and Mayne than Davies. Do you want to please the voters or yourself?

  10. Camino Alto says:

    Leave it to the PD to create a fire where there wasn’t one before.

    Petaluma suffered through two city council seat appointments in the past few years. They were both complete disasters as far as serving the public goes. Jeff Mayne (who didn’t run for council)and Karen Nau were both soundly defeated in the recent election. To appoint them to council is pure insult to the people.

    The ONLY fair way to do this to give the people what they deserve and not have to have a special election that we cannot afford is to appoint the fourth place finisher in the recent city council race.

  11. Concerned says:

    I see this coming down to a special election in which the city can not afford. When the time comes, each side will have to choose one candidate, the strongest candidate. Torliatt had the most votes in Petaluma with Mayne in close second.