Two candidates commit, interest likely to be high
By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sebastopol Mayor Guy Wilson will not be seeking re-election to a second term in November, opening up a seat on the City Council that is expected to draw a lot of attention.
Robert Jacob, a city planning commissioner and owner of a medical marijuana dispensary, and Kathy Austin, a former mayor and an architect, have filed papers with the Sebastopol City Clerk indicating their intention to run.
Councilwoman Kathleen Shaffer also has filed for re-election.
The two seats are the only ones on the five-member council that expire this year. Both Wilson and Shaffer were elected to their first terms in 2008.
Wilson said he was giving up the council position to spend more time on his Santa Rosa law practice.
“I cannot afford to put in the time and give up the income required to do the council job,” Wilson said. “The council job, whether being mayor or a council member or vice mayor, is a full-time position, or should be.”
Sebastopol council members receive $300 a month, plus health care, vision and dental benefits.
Shaffer, 65, has focused much of her council work on creating the Sebastopol Entrepreneur Project to help small businesses and on economic issues.
Shaffer is a former teacher and also ran a business with her husband in Florida manufacturing field equipment for Major League Baseball.
“We just need some common-sense solutions to shore up the economy here, we need reasonably managed growth to increase revenue,” Shaffer said.
Jacob, 35, is the founder and executive director of Peace In Medicine, a medical marijuana dispensary in Sebastopol.
As such, Jacob said he is a small-business owner with 49 workers, more than the city employs, and has a similar annual budget, $5 million.
“I believe medical cannabis access should be seen as a positive thing, a way for patients to access affordable medicine for medical needs,” Jacob said. “It is really a nonprofit organization that provides a service.”
Austin, 60, a Sebastopol architect for 18 years, was on the council from 1996 to 2000 and served as mayor in 1997.
“One of the major issues for all cities is finances, we need a healthy business economy,” Austin said. “Sebastopol in general doesn’t have the most welcoming image to the business community and we need to turn that around.”
You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or email@example.com.