By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Two members of the Santa Rosa City Council who served on the subcommittee that studied whether the city should join Sonoma Clean Power were selected Tuesday to be the city’s representatives on the board of the public power agency.
Council members Robin Swinth and Jake Ours were appointed by their council colleagues to represent the city’s interests on what will soon be an eight-member board of directors.
The decision puts the city one step closer to achieving the parity it fought so hard to achieve with the county, which after Thursday will also have two seats on the board.
Swinth, an engineer and former Board of Public Utilities member who has been praised for her thoughtful analysis of the complex issues surrounding the city’s decision to join the agency, was approved first by a unanimous 6-0 vote. Councilwoman Erin Carlstrom was absent.
Ours, who served on that same subcommittee as well as the county’s steering committee set up as it explored establishing the power agency, was approved by a 4-2 vote.
Ours received “no” votes from council members Gary Wysocky and Julie Combs. Both had hoped Wysocky, who argued for stronger ratepayer protections in the joint powers agreement, could win appointment to the city’s second seat.
Wysocky was instead unanimously appointed as the first alternate to the board.
Then something odd happened.
Wysocky, with a slight smirk, nominated Ernesto Olivares to serve as the second alternate.
Wysocky and Olivares are political rivals, and Olivares has been less engaged in the power agency discussion than some other council members.
At that point, Combs, an ally of Wysocky who pushed for a variety of changes to the joint powers agreement, said she would also like to be considered to serve as the second alternate. She nominated herself for consideration.
Olivares was appointed on a 4-2 vote, with Combs and Swinth voting against him.
Shortly thereafter, however, Wysocky asked if Olivares’ nomination vote could be reconsidered. He said he hadn’t known Combs was interested in the post, saying the vote “went too fast.”
“I was unaware Council member Combs wanted it, and I think we should have a full council to decide that,” Wysocky said.
He asked for the vote to be reconsidered, but that vote failed 3-3. City Attorney Caroline Fowler explained that the item could again be reconsidered at the next council meeting if the council unanimously agreed.
Asked after the meeting why he nominated Olivares, Wysocky reiterated that he was unaware Combs was interested in the post, and said there weren’t many people left whom the council could appoint. Mayor Scott Bartley had obviously already passed on the chance to be nominated for a seat, and Carlstrom was absent, he said.
“He was the last guy standing,” Wysocky said.
He noted that neither he nor Olivares may end up serving as alternates very long. Once another city joins the agency board, Santa Rosa is slated to lose its second seat, at which point, Ours would probably become the alternate.
“It’s a minor position,” he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @citybeater.