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Distrust marks Petaluma City Council campaign landscape



Distrust among some Petaluma City Council candidates and current office-holders prompted two contenders last week to skip an election forum organized by the mayor.

Mayor David Glass has endorsed two of the six candidates running for election on Nov. 6, Jason Davies and Alicia Kae Herries. Three seats are on the ballot, those of incumbents Gabe Kearney, Tiffany Renee and Mike Healy.

So when Glass coordinated a candidates’ night last week at a senior living center, some of the candidates whom he doesn’t support grew suspicious that the forum may be a set-up to showcase his preferred candidates.

The misgivings deepened when Healy, a longtime political adversary of Glass, repeatedly sought details about the forum’s format and rules.

Receiving no firm answers, Healy backed out. Then followed Kathy Miller, who is running as a team with Healy. Kearney, Herries, Davies and Renee all attended, though Kearney said he also had misgivings without knowing the rules in advance.

For his part, Glass said in emails to concerned candidates that he arranged the forum, but the format and questions would be handled by radio host Steve Jaxson, whom Glass asked to moderate the event.

“With Glass injecting himself so forcefully in this campaign, I was not going to give him the presumption of fairness,” Healy said in explaining why he skipped the event. “I would have been willing to go if they’d gotten back to me with details. But I asked repeatedly and just got silence.”

Miller said she had another engagement she couldn’t reschedule, but also acknowledged she was leery about the apparently unstructured format.

“Every other forum, we had really clear ideas of what would happen,” she said. “Given what has been going on with the Democratic endorsements and his endorsements of some of the candidates who are running, certainly it raised a question as to whether the format was going to be impartial.”

Glass and former Petaluma council member Pam Torliatt ruffled some feathers last month when they lobbied against Kearney during the Sonoma County Democratic Party endorsement process.

A party interview committee initially recommended Davies, Kearney and Healy. But after Glass and Torliatt argued against Kearney, the larger committee voted to endorse Davies, Renee and Herries, the most progressive of the six running. All are Democrats and the council seats are nonpartisan, but party endorsements can carry some sway.

Kearney said the Oct. 2 forum ultimately was fair, though a bit disorganized. Renee said she felt it was productive and informative.

No additional forums are scheduled. A forum from Sept. 27 is being televised on Petaluma Community Access television.

16 Responses to “Distrust marks Petaluma City Council campaign landscape”

  1. Wilson says:

    @First vote wasn’t unanimous – You are 100% correct. Thank you for setting “voter” straight.

    I didn’t write this, but I think that it’s brilliant:
    “The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views.”

    “Voter”, which one of these are you?

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  2. First vote wasn't unanimous says:

    Go back and watch the video….at the last minute, Kearney had four votes (Healy, Harris, Albertson, and Renee). The whole thing was cooked before the meeting even started. Once he got 4 votes, Teresa and David asked to re-vote to make it unanimous.


    Motion: Approve Appoint Gabe Kearney to the City Council to complete the term ending December 31, 2012, vacated by Mayor Glass when was elected Mayor in the November 2010 election.
    Moved by Mike Healy, seconded by Chris Albertson.
    Vote: Motion carried 4-2.
    Yes: Chris Albertson; Tiffany Renée; Mike Harris; Mike Healy
    No: David Glass; Teresa Barrett

    As well, contrary to a myth being circulated, Cilfford was never able to get more that 2 votes and was not close to being appointed. Had the council remained a body of six, there would have might been real compromise on Deer Creek.

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  3. voter says:

    Hey Wilson,

    Just to remind you the entire city council voted unanimously to appoint Gabe Kearney.

    Here are the city minutes:

    Motion: Approve Resolution 2011-030 N.C.S. Appointing Gabe Kearney to Fill Vacancy and Serve Unexpired Term Created by Election of David Glass as Mayor.
    Moved by Mike Healy, seconded by Teresa Barrett.

    Vote: Motion carried 6-0.
    Yes: Chris Albertson; Tiffany Renée; Mike Harris; Mike Healy; David Glass; Teresa Barrett

    City Clerk Cooper swore in newly-appointed Council Member Gabe Kearney.

    The balance of your comments are a bit to angry for a responce.

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  4. Wilson says:

    @Over easy & @ Manipulation

    Excuse me for “shouting”, but WHAT PROGRESSIVE STRANGLEHOLD??? Oh yeah. The voices of the pro-developer shills. Oops. Not so well kept secret is out. And remember that the opposite of progressive is regressive.

    For those out there who may want to read some facts, the Progressives haven’t had a council majority in about 10 years. Currently the only real Progressives on the Petaluma City Council are Glass and Barrett. The majority of the problems that Petaluma faces were directly caused by the Pro-developer councilmembers who HAVE had a stranglehold for years.

    Renee isn’t a Progressive. Remember she is the one who voted to put developer yes-man Kearney on the council. And just this year, her wasteful run for Congress did nothing but take votes from a real progressive by the name of Norman Solomon. She has lost the majority of the support that put her into office 4 years ago. See ya.

    But on to the real crux of this article is the no-show of Healy and Miller. First, Mike Healy never does anything that he doesn’t think will personally benefit him. Everybody that knows him or has ever really dealt with him knows this. He knows exactly how the two usual candidates forums are run so he is well prepared to spin through them. He can’t be real and honest so he bailed out of a forum that he couldn’t predict. And Kathy Miller is a total puppet who hasn’t revealed any significant level of skill or qualification to be on the council. She just did what her puppet master told her to do. Yawn.

    And PD editors (I don’t blame Ms. Carter): Since when should simply being chicken and not wishing to be openj to the public get written up as being distrustful? You do the public a great disservice with this weak excuse for journalism. It’s clear that you can’t endorse candidates so you stoop to printing propaganda like this article instead. Shameful

    So give me a thumbs down if the truth hurts.

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  5. For what it’s worth, no Candidates Night scheduled in Cotati this year. The incumbents are in full retreat and don’t want to face the public in person, or in The Cotati Independent newspaper. As the publisher, I have received no letters in favor of my opponents and I am a bit shocked. For the first time since I entered Cotati politics in 1998, no debate or candidate invitational has been planned. It’s shameful. The Chamber of Commerce won’t even touch the project after numerous complaints they have been condoning and supporting White Trash Parties in the downtown area hosted by one of their chamber members. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

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  6. Over easy says:

    @ Manipulation

    Well Said!

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  7. Brian Enright says:

    Is this seriously an article? It is so obvious that the reporter is biased. This is truly one of the most unprofessionally written stories I have ever seen.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. voter says:

    Typical of Glass, have a forum at an assisited living center where all the attendees are exempt from the tax. Glass was chatting it up in the papers yet never announced the start time.

    The forum only had seating for 35, so how was the public to attend or participate?

    This is why he cannot be trusted.

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  9. Leadership says:

    sorry, should have been:

    “And please, ongoing sour grapes by those who didn’t get endorsed needs to stop.”

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 14

  10. Leadership says:

    Healy said in explaining why he skipped the event. “I would have been willing to go if they’d gotten back to me with details. But I asked repeatedly and just got silence.”

    What details were needed? The questions were put together by the residents of Sunrise Assisted Living. The moderator was Steve Jaxson and the “rules” were simply that he asked questions, people could answer as they liked for as long or short as they liked within reason, and it turned out to be great for everyone who participated.

    Real leadership means having the guts to show up without necessarily having “all the details”. The fact is it was a fair discussion and despite not having sharp time limits, no opening or closing statements, and candidates being able to go first as they wanted, it flowed nicely. I want to vote for people who can think on their feet.

    And please stop the ongoing sour grapes by those who didn’t get endorsed needs to stop. Kearney and Healy simply didn’t have the votes needed for the 2/3 threshold. Committee members voted how they voted and its time to move on and stop being cry babies because you only got Police and Fire, no environmental endorsements, no North Bay Labor, no Latino PAC, etc. Time to move on and stop using Glass as a scapegoat for your slate’s failure to be endorsed, not just by the Democratic Party, but by all the core organizations that came before.

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  11. Manipulation says:

    Glass is not happy that the progressive strangle hold on Petaluma is slipping away. Many of the quiet majority have awakened and are paying attention. He and Torliatt already pulled back door strings to keep Kearney from the Democratic endorsement because he is too centrist for them.

    I would’t trust Glass either, but I am happy to see that he is desperate enough to organize his own forum. I am sure he does not want his candidates to be asked tough questions because they can’t answer them.

    Pay attention people. We are starting to climb out of the mess created by Glass, Torliatt, Barrett and Rene. Get out and vote.

    Thumb up 26 Thumb down 6

  12. Mistrust the PD says:

    “Distrust” marks the essence of Press Democrat reporting.

    C’mon, PD, can you write and publish a real news story? Or is it always feeding your sad ideas of battles royale?
    Of course there’s distrust in Petaluma politics. And Santa Rosa politics. And Sacramento and Wisconsin and national politics.

    How about some content and accuracy? How about the rampant mistrust of Healy and Kearny from watching their maneuvering over the years?

    Get it together, PD, and don’t be the lamestream media.

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  13. Drivel says:

    This article is ridiculous and the only point of it is to stir the pot. Healy and Miller should have attended the forum. Mayor Glass arranged the forum but Steve Jaxon moderated the event. It took place at an assisted living facility. The Argus Courier and the Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum a few weeks ago. We ALL know where they stand with the candidates even if they can not endorse a candidate. They support Healy, Miller and Kearney. And with everyone knowing this, did Davies, Renee and Herries attend? Of course they did. They did not act like a child which Healy is doing now. Speaking of rules, I understand at the Argus and Chamber forum the candidates were to get a 5 minute opening statement. That did not happen. So much for rules and formats!

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  14. Dan Drummond says:

    As a participant in the October 2 forum, let me add a different perspective. There were two debates held that evening, one among the council candidates as referenced in the article and another on Measure X (Petaluma’s parcel tax). I participated in the Measure X debate.

    KSRO’s Steve Jaxson moderated the council debate while Tony Landucci (also with KSRO) moderated the Measure X side of things. The contrast between Jaxson and Landucci probably explains more about why some of the council candidates declined to appear than the political differences between them and David Glass.

    A couple days prior to the forum, Landucci e-mailed the Measure X participants and set forth the format (opening statements, questions and responses, closing statements, time limits, etc.). Jaxson, on the other hand, apparently didn’t even bother responding to requests from the council candidates seeking similar information.

    At the deabte, the Measure X side of things went smoothly. Both sides had their say and Landucci stayed mostly in the background except to pose new questions to the panel. When it came time for the council side of things, Jaxson seemed to think he was the center of attention rather than the candidates. He opened up the debate with a lengthy complaint that Healy not only “refused” to participate in the forum, but had never appeared on Jaxson’s radio show despite having been invited several times. It seemed pretty clear that Jaxson was using the opportunity to vent his personal frustrations with Healy.

    When Jaxson finally got around to asking the first question, he gave the mike to Gabe Kearney to respond first. Kearney asked how long he had to answer the question and Jaxson’s rather snarky reply was that he didn’t set the rules, but neither he nor the audience had all night.

    I’d never met either Landucci or Jaxson before, but I can certainly understand now why Healy might be reluctant to participate in a forum moderated by Jaxson. Landucci was prepared, fair to both sides and understood his role as moderator was to facilitate a healthy discussion by letting the proponents and opponents make their respective cases. Jaxson seemed to think this was just another edition of his radio show and the council candidates were just there for background.

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  15. Petaluman says:

    This is what is wrong with Petaluma. It is sad and pathetic, Glass needs to go.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 7

  16. Bill me says:

    Subversive, scheming, divisive, vindictive, controlling, arrogant. That’s Glass. Vote for whoever he doesn’t like and it’s a safe bet Petaluma will improve.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 4

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