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Petaluma City Council deadlocked on 7th member


After three unofficial votes to fill its vacant seventh seat, the Petaluma City Council Monday night deadlocked again and opted to delay the decision for another month.

Before the meeting, council members expressed optimism they could find one applicant among 19 that a majority of four members could agree upon, hoping to carry over the new-found spirit of compromise they showed last week.

But reality quickly set in when the first straw vote showed no cross-over among the two defined voting blocs on the council.

After a second poll showed little movement from either side, Mayor David Glass suggested they stop, calling council members “entrenched.”

“It would be counterproductive to go further with this, because it will serve to tear apart the body of six that is up here right now,” he said. “We all have a reason why we’re entrenched where we are.”

The vacant seat was created when Glass won election to mayor in November, halfway through his council term. The council accepted applications for the vacancy, which expires at the end of 2012.

Of the 19 people who applied for the spot, seven were also-rans in the November’s elections.

The self-described progressive bloc of Glass, Tiffany Renee and Teresa Barrett held firm to its favored candidates, Jason Davies and Pam Torliatt. Davies lost in his bid for the council and Torliatt, a former Petaluma council member, unsuccessfully sought a seat on the county board of supervisors.

The pro-business contingent consistently supported former interim City Manager Gene Beatty and former Petaluma school board member Lou Steinberg. Receiving three votes twice were Jeff Mayne, who lost to Glass for mayor, and Ray Johnson, who sought a council seat in November.

The appointment is seen as critical to both sides of the ideologically divided council, whose members differ on how strictly the council should oversee applications for private development projects in Petaluma. The seventh member could become a swing vote on potentially controversial projects, including the Deer Creek Village application, which includes a Lowe’s home improvement store.

Glass also lobbied for Dennis Pocekay, a retired physician with degrees from Creighton, Stanford, Cal and Caltech who also helps mentor students in Petaluma.

Healy expressed support for Steinberg and Kauk, also a longtime Petaluma school board member.

Renee pushed for Davies, as did some members of the public, touting his experience in the high-tech industry and his fourth-place finish in the November election.

In the end, the council decided that more time to get to know some of the candidates may encourage a change in votes by next month. They decided to revisit the appointment at the Feb. 28 meeting.

Other applicants included: Durward “Chips” Armstrong, Wyatt Bunker, Paul Clary, Harry Clifford III, Dmitri Evdokimoff, Daryl Johnson, Gabe Kearney, Bryant Moynihan, Karen Nau, Rick Parker and Sara Sass.

24 Responses to “Petaluma City Council deadlocked on 7th member”

  1. Fact says:

    When will everyone realize that anyone who ran for the council seat in November will not be appointed. They are in one camp or the other and it will not happen. So you can forget Davies, Mayne and the rest! The seat will remain vacant and there is nothing wrong with this.

    Let me ask you this: If an election was held in June who do you think would win with the following candidates?

    Listed alphabetically:


    Do you really think it would Davies? The answer is NO because now you are splitting the vote 3 ways, just as the other side would have to split 3 ways this time. If you recall, they unwisely split the vote 4 ways in the last election.

    Understand now? Davies is really not the top vote-getter.

  2. Kim says:

    Wilson, perhaps you got a different ballot than I. Mine said \vote for three\ not \vote for four\. In NASCAR the person coming in second is actually the first looser….in this case Davies came in fourth and is the first looser.

    If you don’t like the city charter, then go out there, gather the signatures and get the change on the ballot to let the voters decide. Its that simple! Cut the tantrums and move on…..
    Yes, I was here the last time but the chatter died down rather quickly then. The progressives seem to think if they say it loud enough, say it long enough it will come to fruition….ain’t gonna happen!

    Lost by least….she filled out the paperwork like all the other applicants for the open seat. Who are you to take that right away?

    Elected Office……You criticise Harris, Healy & Albertson, at least they weren’t fixed on one or two individuals. They moved their votes around each time (unlike Renee). I think they were trying to show that they would consider others….just not Torliatt or Davies. If Harris is such a rotton councilmember as you indicate, just how the heck did he garner the most votes in the last election? He’s got to be doing something right in the eyes of the voters.

    Just 6 on the council? Sure, I could live with that. It would save the city some money not having to pay for medical insurance for one individual and the other costly items that a council member receives.

  3. Seriously says:

    @Elected Office

    Lets see if i can be very clear here as you seem to very clearly have an agenda and you refuse to acknowledge my points and what i am saying and you are calling me names and putting words in my mouth to further your agenda.

    I never said “going with the fourth highest vote-getter would not respect the Charter”. Didn’t say it so stop trying to shape my opinion into your biased veiws. I have said it before and I will say it again. The charter is there to appoint and it does not say you have to go with the fourth. It just says to appoint. If Davies is the one, fine. Just appoint, no election……can’t be afforded. Understood?

    Continuing…I still support Davies BUT there are others throwing thier hat into the ring that were not part of the original Council election therefore I think it is only fair that the process be to hear from all of them, go through a process with all of them and appoint one of them. whether it be Davies, Torliatt, Mayne…whomever. the order of preference you indicate did not include some of the people that are now offering up their time to sit on the Council. The clear direction you speak of would be valid if Torliatt, Mayne and others didn’t enter the fray but they did and I don’t believe they should be ignored. Is that understood? Am I being clear enough for you or are you so biased that you will read other meaning into what I’m typing?

    You appear to be a Davies or Election or nothing. If that is truly your only two solutions to this then you are not looking out for the betterment of the City but you are playing politics because you want only one from ‘your side’ and that is sad.

    Now you ask me a direct questions, those being “Do you think that people who came in fifth, sixth, etc. – when they were clearly less favored by the voters – should be appointed? Do you think someone who never ran should be appointed?” Answers: No one (even those “less favored” should be appointed based solely on the last election. The answer to your second question is I don’t think it matters. They should draw from the pool that exists today!

    I have a question for you, lets see if you can or are willing to answer. Do you think that only a person who ran in the Council race should be appointed? If so, then you feel that all those that have applied but did not run should be disqualified because they didn’t run in the Council race? please answer, I would love to hear.

    Again, I still favor Davies for the same reasons I did before but I also favor Mayne because I believe he brings certain skills to the table. I also favor Dennis Pocekay as he has great credentials as well. See, I don’t fit into your mold of if you aren’t with me you must be against me. You are very clearly on one political side. I am not, I take each issue, each person as an individual and try to decide as such. So please, don’t assume with me, don’t call me a liar because of your preconceived beliefs. It is disrespectful and lessons your arguments because it clearly shows your bias.

    Have a great weekend everyone, it is going to be beautiful out there!

  4. Lost by least says:

    @ Observations

    Your comment: “When will you ever give up? Jason Davies will NEVER be appointed to that seat!”

    Yes, he lost, but he lost by the least. Are you are saying those who ran and lost shouldn’t be considered at all? Or are you saying the Council should ignore the fourth runner and skip to those who were even less favored? Not understanding the logic here.

    So if we forget about the candidates who ran and lost, that leaves us with candidates for whom we have zero indication of public support. And of those candidates, one suggested by Harris, Healy, and Alberston was Kauk. Why? She came in last in the School Board race because people felt she wasn’t doing a good job. She was an incumbent and came in last. Why then should she be considered over the fourth runner. How is that a reflection of what the voters prefer?

    Either leave it vacant, appoint the fourth runner, or let the people vote again. Petaluma deserves nothing less.

  5. Wilson says:

    The outcry to appoint the first runner up WAS there both times in recent years when this came up. I remember them well. Were you even there? And as we all know, those cries have all been ignored. And the people were screwed in both of those council appointments.

    Take a moment and look at what happened last Monday night. Glass, Barrett and Renee pushed for Pamela Torliat (well-known to all, 18 years experience), Jason Davies (fourth place finisher, COMPLETELY vetted, big public support) and Dr. Dennis Pocekay (teacher, doctor, no perceived political agenda). Harris, Healy and Alberston spread their interest all over the rest of the 19 applicants. It has to be considered that somebody that lost a school board election doesn’t have the public cupport to be on the city council. And Gene Beatty is too far out of touch to be the least bit effective.

    The blockade of the group of NO to not support a special election has NOTHING to do with the cost. NOBODY knows how much or little it will actually cost so shut up until you do. Their reason is simply that they do not want a genuine representative of the people in that seventh seat.

    Now shouldn’t that seventh seat be filled by someone that actually represents the people? I say yes. We should do whatever is necessary to make that happen

  6. Observations says:

    @Elected Office/be smart -

    When will you ever give up? Jason Davies will NEVER be appointed to that seat! If you want him there then you should be pushing for the seat to remain vacant until November 2012 when he can run again. He lost this election!

  7. Elected Office says:

    @ Kim

    “By the way, would you be pushing for the fourth voter getter being appointed if it were Ray Johnson that was in 4th place and Jason Davies were in 5th?”

    Yes, of course. If the voters preferred Johnson, that’s who should be appointed, but it turns out he came in 6th….despite starting sooner and outspending the fourth highest vote-getter by nearly a factor of four. Nice try…how about you answering the same question with the following twist. Given Alberton was just 1.3% ahead of the fourth highest vote-getter, would you support him had he instead come in fourth? I certainly would. This is precisely why the fourth highest vote getter makes sense. It completely eliminates the need for the Council to jockey back and forth between their favorite pick and puts it back on the voters and their expressed preference in the election.

    It’s clearly not about qualifications or support of the people given the candidates suggested by Healy, Harris, and Albertson. Clearly Harris can’t think Sara Sass nor Wyatt Bunker have more public support or are more qualified (two preferences he stated during one of the rounds). The other preferences expressed by Harris were all people who endorsed him in the election.

    It’s politics. That’s ok. One “side” has 3 votes, an Argus Courier Poll, unique qualification unshared by any sitting member or applicant, and 6,719 votes to consider. The other side has what’s best in serving their interests. Whether the fourth highest vote getter happens to also appeal to the other three’s interests shouldn’t matter. People expressed their preference at the ballot in creating the vacant seat and placing a council candidate in fourth place. Whether you like it or not, that’s what we know. For that to be thrown out is their option, but that doesn’t mean the idea lacks merit. 3 thought it did, and 3 thought it didn’t. Good luck to us all. I predict we’ll have a Council of 6 which would be fine – it would force them to come together and better expose the merits of their differences, as well as areas of agreement. The more time they waste angling, the less gets done for our city.

  8. Kim says:

    Where was the outcry for the fourth vote getter when seeking who would replace Cavenero? What’s the difference between now and then? Is obviouse to me, its the political climate and a power grab with each side having a real stake in the outcome.

    One can twist a word such as “appoint” to mean what they want. The dictonary says “To name or select, as a person for a position.” Now, the method of how the governing body does that is up to them. They could use the fourth vote method, but you and I know that won’t happen as they would need a fourth vote to do so. Using the fourth vote getter, at this point, is frutile.

    By the way, would you be pushing for the fourth voter getter being appointed if it were Ray Johnson that was in 4th place and Jason Davies were in 5th? Naw, didn’t think so.

  9. Elected Office says:


    You continue to suggest that somehow going with the fourth highest vote-getter would not respect the Charter. This is completely false. The Charter doesn’t specify a criteria. The absence of a criteria in the Charter doesn’t suggest a criteria. Voters elected Glass on election day. That was their preference. When that happened, it opened up his seat. The Charter simply reads the Council “shall appoint”. It doesn’t say how. It doesn’t say they can’t have a special election. It doesn’t say they have to only consider applicants that never ran. And there is no provision for a situation in which they can’t agree. The suggestion I made was simply that people did express an order of preferences – something our Council is now doing.

    We have a clear directive we can discern from the election results. Johnson was less favored than Davies and Kearney and came in 6th. Davies was slightly more favored than Kearney and came in fourth. Nau was less favored as was Bunker, etc. Albertson was slightly more preferred than Davies by 1.3 %. Mayne was less preferred than Glass by over 6%. Had there been a vote for 4 and it was the same candidates running, there’s no evidence to suggest the preference rankings would change. Do we know with absolute certainty? Of course not, but you suggested with certainty that there would be a different ranking had there been a choice to vote for four and I’m simply saying that’s less probable.

    So the question remains. Do you think that people who came in fifth, sixth, etc. – when they were clearly less favored by the voters – should be appointed? Do you think someone who never ran should be appointed? In either case, the message is that we should ignore the preferences demonstrated in the last election. That’s fine if that’s how you feel, and the Charter allows for it. It also allows for the Council members to base their decision on the ranking preferences expressed in the election that made the seat available.

    Another point is that if you voted for Davies because of his tech & business skills, who else from the applicants would you now favor? Those skills haven’t changed and no one else who applied matches them. So there are qualifications, as well as an expressed order of preference from the recent election to consider.

  10. Jason Valez says:

    The cheapest and fairest way to settle this is to have each side choose someone and then flip a coin. Let the chips fall where they may. Zero cost.

  11. Kim says:

    The City of Petaluma has a Charter and that’s what we go by. Don’t like what’s in the Charter? If it means that much to you, then get off your duff and go out there and convince the majority of the citizens of Petaluma that it needs to be changed. Gather enough signatures to put the proposition on the ballot. Then work further to get it passed. Otherwise, get off this fourth vote getter mantra! GEEZE!

    Funny, where was the same argument when Cavenero left his seat vacant? Oh, I know, the progressives weren’t trying to get their majority back. Seems tunes change with the political weather…hence, we have a Charter!

  12. Observations says:

    1) A special election will not happen

    2) David Glass did a good job running the meeting

    3) Tiffany Renee spoke too long and put everyone to sleep

    4) In the next few weeks, after meeting with a few of the candidates per Healy’s recommendation, it is still unlikely someone will receive 4 votes

    5) Anyone who ran for council in November is clearly in one camp or the other. If we must take this one meeting further, focus on the remaining candidates

    6) Best advice – Let the seat remain vacant

  13. bill me says:

    One should wish to be Mayor in order to lead the council to facilitate and reach consensus. Glass wanted to be Mayor-yet has failed to persuade/convince either of the voting “blocs” to move. Good Luck Petaluma—

  14. Seriously says:

    @elected office –

    are you serious? the you are stretching things here. now, i can certainly see how the arguement can be made for the fourth vote getter to take the spot. i understand that, i get it, i listened to the arguement. but there are factors here that cloud things and don’t make it clear cut. there are now people in the mix (torliatt, mayne and others) that were not part of that election for that seat that deserve the right to be part of the selection process, plain and simple. to knee jerk divert to the fourth vote getter takes the rights of others away.

    and yes, let’s not kid ourselves here. you accuse me of lying in my support of davies. i voted for albertson (with some hesitation in what i would guess would be his support of the current public employee benefit package), johnson because of his business background and davies because of his tech and business background. i am not lying here, i am speaking the truth. you can choose to believe me or not, up to you.

    you go on to say “had there been…” or “one could argue…”. that is the same as saying “if”. rediculous way to stress a position. look, had my aunt been born with a thingy between her legs she would be my uncle. it didn not happen and neither did an election to place 4 council members.

    as for not supporting a special election. you are very quick to claim it is done strictly out of politics without even considering the city’s current financial situation. the city is in dire financial status. i don’t support a special election for this reason and this reason only. there is no money for a special election, it would be wasteful to do so, totally not necessary when there are other options. i think those that do not support a special election are looking out for the city’s finances a little more than those that support a special election. would it also be prudent to state those that are supporting a special election are playing politics becuase they think they have the edge on their political friend winning?

    it is a two way street. stop making accusations and start looking at the realities that face this city and make decisions accordingly. politics aside, we can not afford a special election right now!

  15. During the meeting, Glass, Barrett, and Renee were willing to let the voters decide who should get the 7th seat; but Healy, Harris, and Albertson made it clear they did not want a special election. So it looks like the Council will have six members until the next regular election. I hope the City changes its charter. There are a number of alternatives to the current method of filling a vacancy. It’s time to consider them.

    Btw- Ms. Carter the “pro-business” coalition is just as much “self-described” as the progessive coalition. Further, there are good reasons to conclude that this self-description is misleading. But, that aside, if you’re going to describe the progessive coalition as “self-described,” you also should describe the pro-business coalition as “self-described.”

  16. Elected Office says:

    @ Seriously

    The voters on election day created a fourth seat by electing Glass. Let’s not kid ourselves. You’re pretending to have supported Davies to bolster your argument that a fourth place finish has no merit. There are many people who didn’t vote for the fourth runner who believe that is a fair way to go.

    Had Alberston come in fourth, he would be entitled the same consideration. He came in 3rd by a mere 1.3 percent (700 votes). Mayne lost to Glass by over 6%. Yes, there were 9 candidates running for 3 open Council seats. Had there been 9 candidates running for four open seats (which one could argue in effect there was since Glass was elected on Nov. 2nd which created the vacancy formalized in January), there’s no evidence to support such conjecture that the candidates rankings would have changed – unless you are suggesting there would have been additional candidates, but that could have eliminated Albertson or others as well. It’s also a fact that not everyone voted for three.

    We had a recent election in which there was an expression of preference rankings by the voters. It’s also a fact that Charter provides no guidance with respect to criteria for making an appointment, so to suggest in order to go with the highest vote-getter the Charter would need to be changed is a myth (only true if it were to be made a requirement). The Council split 3-3 regarding the idea of going with the fourth highest vote-getter after many in the public as well as the Press Democrat suggested was a viable option. The Council split 3-3 on the idea of keeping options open for a special election. Clearly 3 of the Council members are less interested in discerning the will of the voters and more interested in ensuring a candidate favorable to them is appointed. Politics.

    Does it make more sense to go with a candidate that came in below fourth? Or do we also ignore those results and say that if only one could have voted for four someone who placed 6th would have somehow come in fourth? That’s a stretch. If voters wanted the 6th place runner, he would have come in fourth. Again, the preferences wouldn’t have changed. But it doesn’t matter now. The Council will do what they do and as voters who elected them, we can take it up in the next election if we disagree with their methods in appointing someone who may have received zero votes or came in below fourth.

  17. Seriously says:

    @MCS – you are not respecting the voters by puting davies in there. when they voted it was for 3 open positions and there was not 10 people to choose from. they also did not have torliatt or mayne to choose from. it is not respecting the voters, that is a faulted and tired reason or argument to put in davies. i actually voted for davies, but they should not simply put him in as he was fourth. different circumstances now. apples/oranges. there is a charter and using the reasoning of the fourth vote getter does not respect the charter. come on now, use reason. all sides need to give a little and appoint. simple as that.

    no special election, no way, no how. we simply cannot afford it!

  18. Leave the seat vacant. The city won’t fall apart anymore than it already has.

  19. Kim says:

    Sure, got to The Patch if you want to nod your head in agreement and partake of the tainted coolaid. I’d rather read a multitude of ideas and thoughts such as this forum provides.

    While I’m not a David Glass fan, I do believe that his statement last night to be recognized to speak, being addressed as Mister Mayor was not meant to belittle anyone, only to gain recoginition to allow him to decern who wants to address the other Councilmembers. The Mayor, sitting in the middle of the Council…what’s a Mayor to do…get whiplash looking back and forth to see who wants to speak? Perhaps some sort of a lighting display could be put in front of the mayor with the person’s name who wants to speak. Saying Mister Mayor or Madam Mayor has been the protocol for years. Mr. Glass has many more faults than brining that to light.

    Great post Susan! But I fault him not for running for Mayor and creating the situation. Actually, with no one appointed and the seat left open, he wins in the long run. Barrett, Renee and the Mayor may not have a majority on the City Council, but with a three/three vote on any controversial items, they STILL get what they want….stagnation in any building. That, along with their hand selected personnel on the Planning Commission it will be more than two years before Petaluma moves forward with anything. What developer, investor or job creator would want to deal with THIS City Council? If I were one, I’d stay FAR away.

    BigDog…again, let me say that I’m not a David Glass fan. However, the reason he left the Mayoral job was so that he could get back into broadcasting. He has a daughter that was just entering college and had to come up with money for tuition, etc. (I think the lady is going to UC Davis…could be wrong). At least that’s what he explained to me. I guess his financial situation changed to where he could pay for her education and get back into politics. With Torliatt out of the City Council, the progressives pushed hard for Davies but unlike the coat tails that brought us Tiffany Renee, they just didn’t work this time. I think they fully thought that they’d see Davies sitting up there instead of Albertson….thank goodness THAT didn’t come to fruition!

  20. MCS says:

    So where is it written that one voting block needs to capitulate to the other? Glass, Barrett, and Renee have no special obligation to appoint Healy, Harris, and Albertson’s preferred appointee.

    Leave the position vacant or appoint the fellow who was the runner up in the most recent election. Respect the voters.

  21. Steele says:

    Give it to Sara Sass. She is smart and has been a bartender for years. She no doubt has heard all the BS lines in the world. Street cred at its best. Go Sass!

  22. BigDogatPlay says:

    How dare Mayor Glass run for an office that he publicly disdained just a few years ago…. why run for a job you didn’t like or want when you had it?

    Can the progressives over at Petaluma Patch explain that one away with a straight face?

    Let’s face facts and call it what it is…. a contest for political and personal power. Nothing more, and nothing less. When it’s examined through that prism the actions of all the players become far easier to understand.

  23. be very smart says:

    Well, how dare David Glass opt to serve the citizens of Petaluma again as Mayor -after an excellent record of service in his 4 years as Mayor during his prior elected term…

    And win the election to become Mayor again? How dare he?

    Too bad the 3 of NO weren’t willing to listen last evening to the reality of the great possibilities for businesses and citizens in Petaluma – with the appointment of Jason Davies or Pam Torliatt. They just want the status quo and all of their developer and builder friends to get whatever they want and be happy.

    But, you notice they weren’t too vocal about it. I guess they thought Glass, Barrett and Renee would be naive enough to keep voting until one of the NO candidates got 4 votes.

    Now, back to David Glass as Mayor. He managed the meeting in excellent fashion. If you want an accurate accounting of the meeting, read Petaluma Patch, not the PD or Argus-Courier.

    And a special election for the voters’ input should still be on the table, with ways explored of how to fund. Everyone knows why Healy, Harris and Albertson put up the smoke screen and said, no, we wouldn’t support that…

  24. Susan Sinclair says:

    The lack of consensus is hardly surprising. Glass, Barrett and Renee will only consider Torliatt or Davies or Pocekay. Harris, Healy and Albertson were willing to consider numerous candidates including Beatty, Steinberg and Kauk as well as some of the candidates who ran for election. The council would do well to focus their efforts on reaching a consensus on the applicants who didn’t run for office. Davies, Torliatt, Mayne, Johnson, Bunker and Nau all lost their elections. That means that the citizens of Petaluma didn’t want them involved in running our government. The council needs to appoint someone else or be deadlocked on development issues for the next two years. There won’t be a special election because Harris, Healy and Albertson will never agree to it. Glass is the key to getting consensus on one of the applicants. He is, after all, the one who created this mess by running for mayor in the middle of his term. However, in light of his whole pompous you need to call me Mayor Glass if you want to be heard from the dais nonsense last night, I don’t have much confidence in his ability to forge a compromise. It will no doubt be the first of his many failures as mayor.