By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Santa Rosa City Councilman Gary Wysocky was stripped of his post as the city’s representative on the Sonoma County/City Solid Waste Advisory Group this week.
On a split vote that reflected the new balance of power on the council, John Sawyer was named to replace Wysocky on the countywide body.
The 11-member group is made up of two county supervisors and one representative from each of the county’s nine cities. It was created in 2009 to explore garbage and waste disposal issues, including the reopening of the county landfill.
During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Wysocky asked to remain part of the group because of the experience he had gained and his belief that waste disposal is an essential government function.
Councilwoman Marsha Vas Dupre supported that position, saying the subject matter would create a “really steep learning curve” for a new representative. Sawyer responded by expressing confidence that he would be able to “quickly come up to speed” on the issues.
Sawyer was named to the post on a 4-3 vote.
Afterward, Wysocky said he was “surprised” that Sawyer wanted the job because he “had seen no previous interest in the subject from him in my time on the council.”
Sawyer responded that he was similarly surprised two years ago when, shortly after he had been named vice chairman of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority, the new council majority removed him in favor of Wysocky, a bicycling and alternative transportation advocate who campaigned on those issues.
“That came as a surprise to me,” Sawyer said. “To unseat that position and all of the influence therein because of the campaign interest of a newly seated member would appear to me to be shortsighted.”
Asked if the vote was payback for that move, Sawyer said it was not.
“Payback would have been removing him from the SCTA and replacing him with me,” Sawyer said.
As a councilman for the past six years, Sawyer said he is well aware that waste disposal is “one of the major challenges” facing the city.
Wysocky had previously said he had been assured by Mayor Ernesto Olivares that he would be allowed to remain as the city’s representative on the solid waste group and the Sonoma County Transportation Authority.
But Wysocky said he and Olivares had a misunderstanding involving the difference between the county committee and the City Council’s solid waste subcommittee.
Wysocky was unanimously reaffirmed to SCTA at the same meeting.