By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Only nine votes separate two candidates vying for the final seat on the Sebastopol City Council, a race that may not be decided for days.
“We will just see what happens,” said Councilwoman Kathleen Shaffer. “I do want to see what the final vote count is.”
Shaffer trails challenger John Eder by nine votes in the contest for her seat.
Robert Jacob, 35, led the voting with 28.9 percent, assuring himself of the seat vacated by Mayor Guy Wilson, who did not seek re-election.
The election was driven by the controversial CVS Pharmacy-Chase Bank branch project, which the council narrowly approved in August on a 3-2 vote.
The project has received the major approvals to go forward. On Friday, CVS completed its purchase of the site, the vacant Pellini Chevrolet dealership, said Bill McDermott, vice president of Armstrong Development of Sacramento.
The election will shift the council’s support for the project.
Jacob has been critical of the CVS project. His election creates a new majority on the City Council in opposition to the CVS project — a majority that would grow if Eder, another vocal opponent of the project, defeats Shaffer.
“It is very surprising, it is very enlightening,” said Jacob, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Peace In Medicine medical marijuana dispensary. “It shows the values of the Sebastopol citizens. It is exciting to see the progressive majority speak.”
Opponents of CVS are holding out hope that a new council majority could yet defeat the project. Jacob did not comment on that scenario.
Shaffer, Wilson and Councilman Patrick Slayter voted to approve the project, while Vice Mayor Michael Kyes and Councilwoman Sarah Gurney opposed it.
“I expect to work with the community and work with the project to help create the best outcome,” Jacob said.
Jacob ran the most expensive campaign, raising $32,000, more than all four other candidates combined.
Eder, 59, a representative of Boise Mobile Equipment in Boise, Idaho, was second in the voting, with 24.9 percent. Shaffer received 24.8 percent of the vote.
With the thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots that still need to be counted, the race between Eder and Shaffer is too close to call, Sonoma County elections manager Liz Acosta said.
Kathy Austin, 60, an architect, had 19 percent and Colleen Fernald, 2.4 percent.