By JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The three Rohnert Park councilmembers up for reelection this year have taken out nomination papers, indicating their intent to run for another term.
No opponents have yet emerged to challenge Mayor Jake Mackenzie, Councilwoman Gina Belforte and Councilman Joe Callinan in their bids for four more years in office.
Prospective candidates have until Aug. 15 to file nomination forms with 20 signatures.
Stewart Cilley, a former candidate for Congress who also took out papers for the council race, has since decided not to run.
“I’ve done some research … and I think the incumbents are going to prevail and they’re doing a good job,” said Cilley, an accountant who ran for the newly created 5th District seat last year.
The three incumbents have helped steer Rohnert Park through a fiscal trough in which the city’s deficit hit $10 million.
When Belforte and Callinan upset two sitting councilmembers to join Mackenzie at the dais in 2008, the city faced a general fund deficit approaching $8 million and there were whispers that it should perhaps seek bankruptcy.
Today, the budget was balanced going into this fiscal year and has been pared nearly 40 percent, to $22 million since 2008. The council approved employee contracts including $3.3 million in concessions and also cut 34 city positions.
“It seems like we’re finally turning the city back around and I want to make sure it stays that way,” said Callinan.
The city’s unfunded liabilities in pension and retiree medical plans are priorities, he said.
Callinan is a general contractor whose father, Pete Callinan, was the city’s first mayor and its longtime city manager.
Mackenzie is currently the longest-serving councilmember. He was first elected to the council in 1996 and was also mayor in 2001, 2005 and 2008.
A retired Environmental Protection Agency manager, Mackenzie has been a
champion of mass transit and environmentally aware development.
He hopes to push forward a fuller implementation of the city’s general plan, which calls for thousands more new housing units to be produced in the city.
“I have unfinished business in Rohnert Park,” he said.
Belforte too cited development plans inching forward in various parts of the city as a factor pushing her to run again.
The owner of a carpet and upholstery cleaning company, said she wants to see the city fully returned to financial health.
“I want to see that through,” she said, “that Rohnert Park is not on somewhat solid footing, but on incredibly solid footing.”
You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.