By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Petaluma council members say they are hopeful for a compromise Monday night when they make a third attempt to fill a vacant council seat.
But that means at least one member from one of the two well-defined factions on the council will have to vote independently of his or her bloc.
The council has operated with six members since Jan. 3, when David Glass left his council seat to become mayor. Council members have made two unsuccessful attempts to fill the seat: An unexpected effort Jan. 3 to appoint the fourth-place finisher from November’s election and a Jan. 31 series of informal votes that quickly stagnated.
At Monday’s meeting, the council will try again to find one person among 19 applicants who is acceptable to a majority of four.
Several council members said last week they have met with many of the applicants in the past month and will go into Monday’s meeting with open minds.
“I am still hopeful we can come to a decision, come together and find a unifying voice for the seventh council seat,” said Councilman Mike Harris, who has met with several applicants.
Glass said he didn’t feel the need to meet with any candidates, saying he is comfortable supporting only the applicants he already voted for: Jason Davies and Pam Torliatt.
“A cup of coffee with someone isn’t going to make me comfortable,” he said.
The council is ideologically split 3-3 on how closely it should manage applications for projects whose developers seek city approval to build or expand businesses.
Glass, Teresa Barrett and Tiffany Renee support strict conditions on development, favoring the so-called “smart growth” tenets of compact, mixed uses and transit-oriented growth. Harris, Mike Healy and Chris Albertson have been described as more pro-business, tending to support projects when they meet zoning guidelines in the city’s general plan.
The seventh council member could be a crucial swing vote on controversial proposals that reach the council, including Deer Creek Village, a proposed 346,000-square-foot shopping center that is planned to include a Lowe’s home improvement center. The environmental impact report on that project could come before the council this summer.
Three straw votes on Jan. 31 produced several candidates who each were able to garner three votes from sitting council members: Gene Beatty, Davies, Lou Steinberg, Torliatt, Ray Johnson and Jeff Mayne. Former Petaluma school board member Christina Kauk also garnered support.
Davies and Torliatt received votes only from the Glass-Renee-Barrett bloc, while the business faction supported the other candidates.
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.
Monday’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 11 English St.