WatchSonoma Watch

Petaluma candidates disagree on shopping centers, Rainier Avenue


The six candidates seeking three Petaluma City Council seats on the November ballot agreed on much in their first side-by-side appearance Wednesday night, but showed stark differences on the controversial issue of development.

The forum was the first of at least three the candidates will engage in before an election that could tilt the balance of power on the council again. about 150 people attended the event at the Sheraton Petaluma, which was sponsored by the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce and the Petaluma Argus-Courier.

Candidates Alicia Kae Herries, Tiffany Renée and Jason Davies are ideologically aligned with Mayor David Glass and Councilwoman Teresa Barrett, who tend to be more skeptical of development in Sonoma County’s second-largest city.

Mike Healy and Kathy Miller, who are running as a slate, tend to agree with Councilmen Mike Harris and Chris Albertson, who share a more welcoming view of growth and large-scale development.

Gabe Kearney, initially viewed as a progressive, has voted with both contingents during his 18 months on the council.

Renee is seeking a second term, Healy a fourth and Kearney is seeking a first full term after being appointed in 2010 to fill a council vacancy. The others would be first-time council members.

All the candidates said they supported a parcel tax measure on the ballot that would to pay for parks improvements and maintenance, and all said they would oppose a potential casino for Indian-owned land just south of Petaluma along Highway 101.

All endorsed building economic vitality by attracting new businesses and increasing tourism. And each of them promised to listen to all sides of an issue and work cooperatively with other council members.

But questions about the city’s two largest shopping centers and the Rainier Avenue cross-town connector revealed differences.

For years, Petaluma’s councils have tacked back and forth over the speed and type of development that should be allowed as political majorities have changed on the seven-member council. Currently, the council is split with Kearney sometimes providing a swing vote.

Renee voted against both the Target and Friedman’s projects, while Healy and Kearney voted to approve them both.

Miller supports both projects, saying the parcels are zoned for mixed-use and both met that requirement with retail and office components.

Davies and Herries said they support Friedman’s, but would have preferred an alternate project for the Deer Creek Village site that would have substituted a skilled-nursing facility for much of the retail space.

Herries has lobbied against big-box development, signing a petition against the Target-East Washington Place development. Davies said he hopes the council will come up with a plan to help existing businesses that may lose customers to the Target center.

The candidates were asked if the long-planned Rainier Avenue cross-town connector was a priority and if so, how they would get it built. The city long has planned for another northern connector between the east and west sides, and across Highway 101, to ease congestion, particularly north of East Washington Street.

“We have to have a City Council absolutely in support of getting Rainier built, and I don’t think that it has been in the past,” Miller said. She, like Healy and Kearney, said she would be part of a council willing to actively seek funding for it.

Herries and Davies were doubtful that the connector will be built

“It’s been on the docket since 1965 and the council has not made Rainier a priority,” Herries said. “What makes us think in 2012 this is actually going to occur?”

Davies said because of the lack of secured funding, the city needs to look at other methods of traffic control.

Herries was appointed to the Planning Commission in 2010 by a new slow-growth City Council majority, which removed Miller and other members favored by the pro-business majority at the time.

Miller, a founding member of Petaluma Friends of Recreation, said her background as an attorney will help her to “disagree without being disagreeable” in working with other council members.

Davies finished fourth in a race for three seats in 2010 and said he hopes to use his experience in high-tech and international marketing to attract businesses to Petaluma and retain and expand existing ones.

Kearney asked voters to look to his record and return him to office, noting that everyone says during a campaign that they will work well together.

“But it’s another thing to do it,” he said. “For the past 18 months, I have been doing it.”

9 Responses to “Petaluma candidates disagree on shopping centers, Rainier Avenue”

  1. BigDogatPlay says:

    Petaluma, and some readers here, still need to get over the “Telecom Valley” days. They are done and gone. High tech is not interested in Sonoma County, and is barely interested in Marin.

    The majority of high tech jobs are going to San Francisco and the Santa Clara Valley because… shudder… those are places where the people who can fill those jobs want to live. They don’t want to live in Petaluma or Sonoma County. Ask any HR person in high tech or any high tech recruiter if you don’t believe me.

    The next council needs to look the above facts square in the eye, swallow hard, and help invent and facilitate opportunities for businesses that will want to locate here. To do that they are going to have to take positive first steps, not the least of which is telling the progressive goofballs who try to litigate each new opportunity for positive change to go make an honest living.

    It also doesn’t surprise me that each of the candidates endorsed the utter sham that is the park and rec parcel tax. Clearly none of them have the fortitude to undertake a real and honest examination and are content to simply rely on the latest tax grab du jour. What makes their position all the more troubling is that it’s transparent and obvious what they intend to do with the money, hence why they support it.

    In a different time and place running these charlatans out of town on a rail would have been in order. But since we’re getting the (SMART) rail shoved down our throats, and the real estate scam that is hiding within it, all that is left for the voters is to hold their noses and pick the three that they believe will do the least amount of damage.

  2. LETS GET IT RIGHT says:

    SAD want some facts, HEME said we should bring in High Tech Sector jobs. Anyone remember Cisco. They came in flourished for approx. 2-3 years then left the entire north end of the city with nothing but vacant office space and no tax revenue. People if you simply don’t like big box retail say it, dont hide behind a facade that you have better answers like your heroes Davies, Herries and Rene.

  3. Bill McNeil says:

    Looks like Over Easy and Save Petaluma hit a nerve with the Herries, Renee, and Davies Campaigns. Too bad they could not answer back with facts and real names.

  4. Sad says:

    Really sad to see such anonymous meanness from a few posters…especially when it isn’t even factual.

  5. Heme says:

    Interesting comment from Over Easy given that Kathy Miller (PFOR founder) and Mike Healy are the biggest supporters for the parcel tax and that the current council (inc. Healy and Kearney) have done nothing to fix our potholes and have worked hard to bring low-income part-time jobs to Petaluma at big box stores who send all of their manufacturing work oversees. We can do better than that for jobs. How about some high paying jobs in the health care and high tech sector?

  6. @ Save Petaluma says:

    Correction, Davies never “voiced opposition” to Friedmans and is not “joined at the hip” with anyone. Why don’t you actually try meeting him. Here’s what Daryl Johnson had to say (copied from Davies’ Facebook page”:

    “I have found Jason Davies to be thoughtful, dedicated and receptive to discussing different points of view in working towards consensus-building for the betterment of our community.”

    ~ Daryl W. Johnson, Construction and Building Operations Professional

  7. @ Over Easy says:

    Ummm….actually Davies beat Gabe last time….even though Gave had previously ran….get this, as an “Environmentalist.”
    Gabe owes his appointment to saying (and then doing) exactly what Harris, Healy, and Alberston wanted him to do on Deer Creek…As for failed egos, sounds all too much like a certain failed candidate who came in 6th.

  8. Save Petaluma says:

    Herries claim to fame is suing a dentist that wanted to build a dentist office in an area that has housed medical and dental offices for many years before Herries moved into the neighborhood. She lost and nearly bankrupted the dentist in the process. She has voiced opposition to Target and does not want Friedmans in Petaluma either.

    Davies is connected at the hip to Torliatt. Torliatt did a tremendous amount of damage to Petaluma that has yet to be undone. He is also voiced opposition to Friedmans (and the jobs it would bring).

    Rene is just plain embarassing.

    Hopefully people are paying attention and put Kearney, Miller and Healy on the Council.

  9. Over Easy says:

    This is not too surprising. Herries, Davis and Renee have done enough harm already. A vote for them is a vote for potholes, unemployment, rainbows, unicorns, and parcel taxes.

    Remember how Herries got on the Planning Commission? Ms. Pam Torliatt appointed her from nowhere, with no experience or education. Her performance has demonstrated the lack of qualification. Strike 3

    Davies lost last time for a reason. His positions follow whatever he thinks will get him elected. This is not a passion to serve, it is failed ego. Strike 3

    Renee has cost the citizens of Petaluma more harm that could have been imagined. She is a no growth, no jobs, dreamer. Left to her devices Petaluma would be Sebastopol. Strike 3

    Read, listen, and vote with facts not pretty signs and false promises. The past is the only true indicator of the future.