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Former mayor appointed to Cotati City Council vacancy

John Dell'Osso


A former mayor is taking over the Cotati City Council seat left vacant since Councilman Robert Coleman-Senghor died April 9.

John Dell’Osso beat out four other applicants for the seat, including Sonoma State University professor and planning commissioner Ben Ford and recalled former councilman George Barich.

Dell’Osso, the city’s mayor from 1995 to 1996, will serve out Coleman-Senghor’s term until November 2012. He could then stand for election.

The City Council appointed him by a 3-1 vote after a meeting in which each applicant was interviewed in front of a packed audience.

His experience on the council proved decisive.

“That is the key that sets him apart right now,” said Mayor Janet Orchard.

Dell’Osso is National Park Service ranger and also a Sonoma County library commissioner. He was a councilman from 1994 to 1998, a period when Lucky Supermarkets tried to open a Cotati store, leading to one of the city’s most heated political battles.

Ford, who told the council “my breadth of experience is unusual,” won the support of Councilman Mark Landman. He said the professor would bring a “fresh face and new perspective” to the council and strengthen the city’s connection with SSU.

But Landman delayed the nomination until his colleagues finished their comments about the applicants.

Councilwoman Pat Gilardi spoke next and nominated Dell’Osso.

“We have 18 months and I’m thinking of someone who can hit the ground running,” Gilardi said.

“I have a good understanding of city operations,” said Dell’Osso, making his case to the council.

He said his focus during his abbreviated term would be on “long-term strategic planning” and economic development.

The applicants included George Barich, who was recalled in 2009 after a year on the council. The two other candidates were William Strickland, a business consultant, and Linnel Hardy, a former planning commissioner who ran for the council in 2009.

Residents lobbied for each of the candidates — most heavily for either Dell’Osso or Ford. And one spoke against anyone being appointed.

“This empty chair should be filled by election, and I think the public deserves an explanation of your decision” to appoint someone instead, said Bradley Yearwood.

The council decided in April to invite applicants, saying the city quickly needed a full, five-member council. An election would cost about $22,000, city staff said.

Coleman-Senghor, an SSU professor, died of a torn aorta. He played a key role in pushing through a Cotati sales tax measure in 2010 that has helped stabilize the city’s financial condition.

3 Responses to “Former mayor appointed to Cotati City Council vacancy”

  1. Greg Karraker says:

    Phil —

    You couldn’t be more correct about the council’s fatal attraction to the status quo.

    The second council meeting I ever went to, I displayed three photographs I had taken of the moribund Northern Gateway, with a deserted gas station at one corner of 116 and ORH, a deserted Frank’s Freeze at another corner, and a weed-infested lot at the third corner. I pointed out that the most visible description of downtown is chainlink and weeds.

    I still remember Pat Gilardi’s answer. Beaming with pride and self-satisfaction, she said, “We like our weeds.”

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  2. Phil Maher says:

    The status quo is firmly in place. Janet and Pat fear change, and quite frankly, having a mathematician on the council with a resulting inside track at City Hall would have been decidedly bad for business as usual. I don’t always agree with Mark Landman, but he made the right call.

    Oh well, John, let’s see what you can bring to the table. If you can get the girls to abandon the pipe-dream of what they think the future should look like, maybe someone might actually want to be part of that “economic development”. In close to 20 years of living in Cotati, I have never seen it look as run-down and derelict as it does now. It’s become a disgraceful eyesore- a monumental tribute to weeds and stagnation. The City Council should be ashamed of letting it get this bad. They “plan” everything, but deliver nothing. Yep, status quo.

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  3. Ken Coleman says:

    Well, they all deserve themselfves. The fact is John hasn’t been to a City Council, a budget workshop, or a general plan update for 10 years. John called on favors because he backed everyone on the current council. It will be a long 18 months before change comes to Cotati, I just hope change doesn’t involve Bankruptcy. Five liberals on the council, what could go wrong?

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