By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
In a display of cooperation and compromise, the Petaluma City Council on Monday night unanimously approved appointments to 20 city and regional committees, including a hotly contested seat that stalled the process three weeks ago.
The 6-0 vote was met with applause from the audience.
The first effort at confirming Mayor David Glass’ committee recommendations Jan. 3 led to frustration on both sides of the aisle over who would win the important Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA) appointment.
After much discussion, the council deadlocked, 3-3, and postponed further discussion until Monday.
The countywide transportation planning agency administers Measure M sales-tax funds and acts as an advocate for county transportation funding. City Council members throughout Sonoma County covet assignments to that committee.
Petaluma’s council is split ideologically 3-3, generally based on how strictly to manage development in the cash-strapped city. It has been operating with one vacant seat since Glass left his seat to become mayor.
The appointments were the first potentially controversial vote following the November election, in which every candidate pledged cooperation and collaboration.
Several council members expressed dismay that the spirit of cooperation died so quickly. But Monday, the tone was one of unity.
Three hours into a meeting at which both sides took great pains to point out mutual agreements, they again took up the appointment issue. Glass recommended the same combination of appointments he proposed Jan. 3, triggering the discord.
Glass recommended his ally, Councilwoman Tiffany Renee, as the SCTA representative, with Councilman Mike Harris as the alternate. Renee served as Glass’ alternate over the past two years.
Harris also sought the seat, asking to be reappointed to the post he held for two years until his bloc fell into the minority and he was replaced by Glass.
This time, Glass pledged he would recommend Harris for the SCTA spot in “one to two years,” after Renee has a chance to serve as the primary Petaluma representative.
“I promise you, within two years, I will recommend you for the director,” Glass said. He asked Harris to accept the alternate position and fill in if Renee can’t attend the monthly meetings.
Harris agreed. “I wanted to serve on the SCTA, but in the spirit of cooperation and in moving forward, I’m OK with it,” he said afterward.
The unanimity came throughout the meeting. Every ballot was unanimous, from the routine consent calendar items to a more complicated dredge-disposal funding issue.
“Let it be said the Petaluma City Council can work together unanimously,” Glass said. “I want to thank the City Council members.”