WatchSonoma Watch

Bartley elected Santa Rosa mayor



Scott Bartley was elected mayor of Santa Rosa by his council colleagues Tuesday night in a split vote decided by newcomer Erin Carlstrom, who then cast the deciding vote

Scott Bartley (PD FILE)

for herself as vice mayor.

Carlstrom, a 29-year-old attorney, acknowledged the difficult decision she faced being the swing vote between Bartley, an architect who favors less government regulation, and Gary Wysocky, whose tends to side more with environmental, labor and neighborhood interests.

“To be blunt, there is no simple answer on this vote,” Carlstrom said.

The decision was one of intense speculation among council watchers who said they had little hint of whom Carlstrom would support.

By backing Bartley she risked angering the progressives who supported her early in her campaign. But by siding with Wysocky she risked upsetting public employee unions who worried Wysocky would demand greater concessions, while some business leaders felt he wasn’t sufficiently pro-growth.

In explaining her vote, Carlstrom said she felt the only way the council would be able to tackle all the issues facing it was if council members trusted one another and worked together.

“The mayor holds no more say over the future of our community than the other council members up here today,” Carlstrom said, “but will need to set aside his or her personal beliefs and interests to ensure the rest of the council is able to shine.”

Without saying anything against Wysocky, Carlstrom said she believed Bartley was the best positioned to lead the council forward.

“I believe councilmember Bartley will rise to this occasion and to this charge, to lead this council which is a drastically different council politically than any that I am aware of,” Carlstrom said.

“I am committed to working with him and the rest of the council to move Santa Rosa in a new direction.”

The vote was 4-3, with Mayor Ernesto Olivares, Jake Ours, Bartley and Carlstrom backing Bartley, with Wysocky, Susan Gorin and Julie Combs voting against him.

After the vote, Olivares got up and shook hands with Bartley, handing him the official gavel. Bartley said he hoped the council could find ways to be more collaborative, much like the period when he served on the planning commission.

“None of us are here to be miserable,” Bartley said. “A lot more can get accomplished if we really work together in a positive way, and that is my goal.”

Carlstrom’s decision confirmed the fears that progressive groups began to have after she and Olivares cross-endorsed once another in late September. Both said it was an effort to change the tone on the council, which has been sharply divided along ideological lines for years.

But environmental and neighborhood groups that supported Carlstrom early in her campaign were aghast by the move and questioned her allegiance.

“I’m definitely disappointed,” Dennis Rosatti, executive director of Sonoma County Conservation Action, said after the meeting. “I thought we shared values and goals.”

He noted that his group had always given Wysocky “A” ratings on the environment, while Bartley received a “C-minus.”

“It’s going to be an interesting two years,” Rosatti said.

But others were pleased with Carlstrom’s decision. Keith Woods, chief executive officer of the North Coast Builders Exchange, said “she showed a lot of guts.”

“I think she did the right thing for the city, but it must have been tough,” Woods said.

Woods said Wysocky “has been considered to be prickly,” while he considered Bartley easy to work with and predicted he will be “more of consensus builder.”

After the meeting, Wysocky said he was disappointed.

“It’ll be a challenging two years. I look forward to offering my insight to the council,” Wysocky said.

Following the vote for mayor, Carlstrom and Combs were both nominated for vice mayor. Combs couldn’t get four votes, but Carlstrom got five, including her own and the support of Gorin.

Earlier in the meeting, outgoing council members Marsha Vas Dupre and John Sawyer both expressed their thanks to city staff and for the opportunity to serve.

“It has been a very, very rewarding experience, one that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Sawyer said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. OnTwitter @citybeater

20 Responses to “Bartley elected Santa Rosa mayor”

  1. Caller says:

    To the person suggesting Carlstrom posts as Brass Tacks:

    Just because Stephen Gale said it, that doesn’t make it so.

    There have been a lot of accusations thrown around about the identity of anonymous posters…. SRPolitics, WhoIsStaceyLawson, STOPoccupySR, etc.

    Until they come out, you don’t know.

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  2. Jay says:

    makes perfect sense. we’ve been driving off the road for the last several years while demanding we keep the status quo and wondering why things don’t change.


    and i fully support an elected mayor, but i favor district elections too.

    meanwhile, scott will do just fine.

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  3. Terry says:

    @”Caller”…you called it right.

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  4. Caller says:

    Sharon – Are you just now figuring out that the Council selects the Mayor? This isn’t new, so why speak up about it now? Just because you don’t like who was selected?

    Mockingbird – You are wrong. More cities have Council-Manager forms of government than Mayor-Council. Based on the size of Santa Rosa, I think we have the correct form.

    It sounds like you both are suggesting candidates are worthy to be on a council member, but not mayor. I, for one, will only vote for candidates who are competent to be both both.

    Wysocky is very disrespectful to people. Carlstrom and others who voted for Bartley made the right choice.

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  5. Chris says:

    The best part of all this speculation is that for the first time in decades, we do not know the answers. Be it what is may be, the prospect of having something other than predetermined outcomes for orchestrated “public” meetings serves the public and the potential for democracy in Santa Rosa.

    Thank you Carlstrom.

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  6. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @RC – “Hunch, Oliveras will return Carlstrom’s help in electing Bartley and vote against Combs by providing the necessary vote that elects a new council member more to her liking. That, LBR, will be the 4th vote . . . . . most of the time.”
    I’m really not clear what you are saying. Do you believe that Oliveres will bow to Carlstrom’s desires when it comes to voting on Gorin’s replacement? That seems unlikely if Carlstrom wants a liberal, thus taking control from the pro-business side of the council.

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  7. Reality Check says:

    Yes, Carlstrom’s second and third vote tell which way Carlstrom wants the wind to blow, in her direction.

    Hunch, Oliveras will return Carlstrom’s help in electing Bartley and vote against Combs by providing the necessary vote that elects a new council member more to her liking. That, LBR, will be the 4th vote . . . . . most of the time.

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  8. Carlstrom's Second Vote says:

    Take note. If you go to the City website and watch the last half hour of Tuesday’s City Council meeting you’ll see Carlstrom’s comments explaining her first vote on who should be mayor. And her vote for Bartley on that question. That vote prompted two stories in the Press Democrat and endless speculation around town.

    But it was her second and third votes that matters a lot if you want to see which way the wind is blowing. Within seconds of the mayor vote, Wysocky nominated Julie Combs for Vice Mayor. There was then and without discussion a second vote taken. Carlstrom vote “NO” on Combs. Carlstrom doesn’t like Combs either? What’s up with that? Or Gary Wysocky just made that nomination to force Carlstrom to show her true colors to the “progressives”. Carlstrom’s second vote stopped Julie Combs from becoming Vice Mayor. Then Carlstrom was nominated and her vote again made the difference. So far she has turned her back on her running mate Caroline by endorsing Earnesto, voted against her running mate Gary for Mayor and voted against her third running mate Julie for Vice Mayor. With friends like these…

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  9. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @RC – The left only gained a “4th” vote until Gorin leaves to take her new seat on the BOS. I’m guessing Carlstrom votes for a liberal to fill her vacant seat, but that still leaves a 3-3 split. The next two vote getters had almost the same number of votes, so there is no clear choice there. Be interesting to see who everyone can agree on…

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  10. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Sharon, I agree with you. Most cities elect their mayors. This city has gotten huge and it’s not the little small town it was when I moved here in 1969 when Imwalle Gardens was at the edge of the city. Now now it’s practically downtown and one of the few open spaces left in this town.

    We need an elected mayor.

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  11. Bill me says:

    People have short memories. The biggest complaint about the SR Council was how divisive it was. They didn’t play “nice”. Wysocky was right at the top of the list of those who spoke their minds in a disrespectful manner. Why would anyone want our City represented by a personality like Gary’s? He is not a consensus builder, not a team player, not a respectful of other’s opinions type of leader. Bartley was the right choice. Carlstrom made the correct call. Now, let’s get past the “Rosatti rhetoric” and manage the City business representing ALL of its constituents.

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  12. James Bennett says:

    …”less government regulation”?

    What is he?

    Some kinda corporate lovin’, 1%ter that hates the environment?

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  13. Carlstrom Brass Tacks says:

    Anyone who thinks Carlstrom has an interest in civility, take a look at the posts from “Brass Tacks” here on Watch Sonoma County.

    Stephen Gale sent out an email to a long list of addresses a while back “thanking” Carlstrom for her postings as “Brass Tacks.”

    Now he goes to lunch with her and begs her (unsuccessfully) to vote for Wysocky.

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  14. Council Thumbs Down Wysocky says:

    Carlstrom is behaving like someone who has been annointed. Wysocky shouldn’t be surprised. He helped annoint the 29 year old calculating blonde. She was afterall one of his appointments. Has anyone in recent years made worse appointments that Wysocky? Instead of putting together a team he found people who would be only too happy to use him and their position.

    Frankly, Wysocky doesn’t have the temperment or political skill set to be the mayor of any city much less one the size of Santa Rosa. His reptilian brain is reacting to one threat afer another. He seems to relish drama and to have a rather long enemies list that results from his intolerance.

    What a chump!

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  15. Sharon says:

    Who decided that the city’s Mayor would be elected by the small council body? We need to reverse that! All citizens should be able to vote for this city’s Mayor.

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  16. Not A Chance says:

    @Reality Check

    allow me to get this out of the way… hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

    Now that I’ve got that out of my system, please elaborate on how it is they will get the 4th vote…

    My calculations have it AT BEST a 3-3 deadlock for a progressive nomination and there is no evidence that any of the conservatives are willing to give Wysocky a 4th vote. They would effectively render themselves useless and they have no desire to be in that position. Lets get it straight, the only person thus far who has proven to have weak knees is Carlstrom. She was too scared of Olivares and too angry with Wysocky to stay true to her supposed values.

    But again, please explain how they get the 4th vote on the progressive side, I’d love to be wrong on this one…

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  17. Buddy Bear says:

    First things first, her little grand standing speech was uninspiring and frankly embarrassing.

    I don’t have faith in her to “fix” anything. It saddens me, I truly believed she was a Democrat at her core, but her core, as it turns out, is simply petulant and reactionary. By appointing Bartley I hope all the Democrats in Santa Rosa realize that Carlstrom is no longer an ally, if you can’t trust her to put logic before hurt feelings, with skin as thin as hers, she should not be trusted to make rational decisions.

    Gary stood by his core and his ideology when he rightfully called Erin out during the campaign for referring to her self “liberal” but allowing her actions to be clearly right wing (mailer, endorsements etc…). It was totally transparent and lowbrow. Gary should wear her rejection like a badge of honor.

    Once they appoint the 5th conservative to the majority next month her vote will become irrelevant, Bartley will be in a position to push through whatever it is he wants and he wont even need her to do it. Her options will be either losing by a vote of 4-3 or being a meaningless 5th vote in a 5-2 victory.

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  18. homegirl says:

    Keep your eye on Carlstrom, with the guidance of her husband, Nick Casten, a long time political operative, she is set to move on to higher office. She already knows how to play the game and has taken the first step on the ladder.

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  19. Chris says:

    While Bartley is by far and away an imperfect choice, there is no way Wysocky would be a good Mayor. His destructive attitude has pushed progressive politics back 10 years in Santa Rosa. I hope Carlstrom is able to ride heard over the council and Bartley, but between two imperfect choices, she made the best one.

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  20. Reality Check says:

    Carlstrom repaid Olivares’s support on the cheap. His backing guaranteed her election and she said thank you with a vote that is entirely symbolic. Smart politics.

    Her allies on the left will protest. No problem. She will regain their support by voting “right” on issues that matter. Wyscocky lost an honorary position but has gained a 4th vote that will matter much more.

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