George Barich, recalled in 2009, a potential candidate
By JEREMY HAY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A former deputy district attorney, two incumbents and a once-recalled councilman have taken out nomination papers for Cotati’s November election.
Should they all submit those papers by Aug. 10, the city, with three council seats up for grabs, will have its third contested election in four years.
With George Barich, an often polarizing figure whom voters stripped of his seat in 2009, among those declaring an intention to run, the race is likely to be a lively one.
Barich, who criticizes the council at nearly all its meetings, also publishes the Cotati Independent newspaper, which he uses to launch fierce attacks on city officials and policies.
He came in third in the 2010 election for two seats, with 19 percent of the vote.
He did not respond to calls and an email seeking comment Monday.
Incumbents Susan Harvey, the current mayor, and John Dell’Osso, who was appointed to his seat in 2011 after the death of Mayor Robert Coleman-Senghor, also have declared their intentions to run in the Nov. 6 election.
Wendy Skillman, a former deputy district attorney in Mendocino and Sonoma counties, has taken out nomination papers, too. Currently a contract prosecutor working for the city of Sonoma, she also is a planning commissioner appointed by Harvey.
“I’m not a critic of what’s been decided before me,” Skillman said. “I want to look at it with fresh eyes and see what we can do to maintain the character of Cotati and make good decisions to maintain long-term goals, not just the short-term.”
Only Harvey, a former planning commissioner and information technology manager, had turned her papers back in as of Monday, making hers the only official candidacy.
“I feel like I have more work to do,” said Harvey, who was elected as a replacement for Barich after his 2009 recall.
She said a chief goal would be to help restore city recreation services, which were largely eliminated in cost-cutting measures taken since 2008.
Dell’Osso, a councilman from 1994 to 1998, said he wants to concentrate on restoring city funding that vanished when Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated redevelopment agencies this year.
“It’s much more challenging now to try and leverage what funds are available,” he said. I have a lot of background with regards to budgeting and planning, so I think that I can bring that skill level to help the city out.”
Longtime Councilwoman Janet Orchard is not seeking re-election, stepping down after 12 years. She said she is exploring “exciting” professional opportunities and will support Harvey, Dell’Osso and Skillman.
“We have a good council, we have good candidates, and it’s just something I want to do, step back … and look at some other things,” she said.
You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.