By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Twenty Petaluma residents, including former longtime Councilwoman Pam Torliatt, jumped into the political frying pan Thursday, submitting formal applications to fill the potentially game-changing vacant seat on an ideologically split City Council.
The seventh member will likely be called upon to cast deciding votes on major, controversial votes that divide the council 3-3.
As expected, six candidates from the November City Council and mayoral races remain interested in serving on the council. Torliatt lost in her bid for the Sonoma County supervisors 2nd District seat.
Several others not as well known also submitted the seven-page application, which asked applicants to discuss their values and priorities about issues including development, budget and collaboration.
In addition to Torliatt, the candidates are: Durward “Chips” Armstrong, Gene Beatty, Wyatt Bunker, Paul Clary, Harry Clifford III, Jason Davies, Dmitri Evdokimoff, Daryl Johnson, Ray Johnson, Christina Kauk, Gabe Kearney, Jeff Mayne, Rob McGaughey Jr., Bryant Moynihan, Karen Nau, Rick Parker, Dennis Pocekay, Sara Sass and Louis Steinberg.
The person appointed will fill the remaining two years of the seat vacated by David Glass, who was elected mayor in the midst of his council term. The term expires at the end of 2012.
“With 20 people applying, we definitely have people with varying backgrounds that have applied and I’m sure there is somebody in that group that can serve for the next two years,” said Councilman Mike Harris.
The current makeup of the City Council means the appointee will likely have considerable power as a swing vote. The existing six-person council is split 3-3, primarily on views about how strictly growth and development should be managed in Sonoma County’s second-largest city.
The split follows a two-year, 4-3, majority of slow-growth council over the more development-friendly minority. That majority was led by Torliatt, mayor for the past four years of her 18 years in city government.
Although all candidates in November talked about the need to collaborate and compromise better in a newly configured council, the first key vote of the new council on Jan. 3 fell along the clearly established political lines and deadlocked at 3-3.
Some on the sharply divided council, many of whom expressed deep disappointment and frustration with the first unsuccessful attempt at cooperation, have said a special election may be necessary to seat a seventh member.
Others have said they are opposed to spending money the city doesn’t have to ask the voters to make a decision the council, by city charter, is charged to make.
The council is scheduled to discuss the applicants – and possibly appoint one – at a Jan. 31 meeting. An appointment would require four votes, a majority of the six-member council.
Bunker, Davies, Ray Johnson, Kearney and Nau sought council seats in November, while Mayne ran against Glass for mayor. Petaluma is the only city in the county that separately elects its mayor, who serves a four-year term and leads council meetings.
Beatty was a Petaluma police officer from 1974 to 1983, serving as lieutenant in his last six years. He was assistant city manager from 1984 to 2001 and served as the appointed interim city manager in 1997 and 2002 during the periods between permanent hires.
Kauk, Parker and Steinberg are all former Petaluma school board members. Kauk lost a reelection bid in November to the Petaluma City School board and Steinberg resigned from the board in early 2010, citing health reasons. Parker didn’t seek reelection last year with the Old Adobe Union School District.
Armstrong owns an auto shop in Petaluma, Clary is a winemaker, Clifford has been active in city parks and sports issues, Evdokimoff is a former youth sports director who has business experience and Daryl Johnson is a construction manager.
McGaughey runs a printing company and his family owns Mr. McGoo’s restaurant. Moynihan is a former council member and real estate broker. Pocekay is a retired physician and chef. Sass is a bartender and co-founder of a nonprofit, www.goodgirlsdoinggoodthings.com.
The candidates’ full applications will be available Monday afternoon on the city’s website. The city withheld them pending a review to redact any private information.