In the past several Petaluma City Council elections, candidates have been defined by their attitudes toward growth: Skeptical or welcoming, business-oriented or slow-growth, pro-development or pro-environment.
But with the approval of two large shopping centers now in the city’s rear-view mirror, the six candidates seeking election in November are working to differentiate themselves by issues other than how accommodating they are to development.
Managing the city’s precarious budget, fixing potholes and street lights, attracting jobs and revenues, maintaining the City Hall workforce and pensions, and getting along with each other are all priorities cited by the candidates.
First-time Petaluma City Council candidate Alicia Kae Herries raised the most in campaign contributions through Sept. 30 and reported the most cash on hand heading into the final weeks before Election Day. Campaign finance reports released Tuesday show Herries and another first-timer, Kathy Miller, are attracting election contributions equal to or greater than seasoned candidates.
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.
Six candidates seeking three Petaluma City Council seats on the Nov. 6 ballot continued to try to differentiate themselves Thursday during a wide-ranging forum at City Hall.
Incumbents Tiffany Renee, Mike Healy and Gabe Kearney are seeking to retain their seats. Kathy Miller, Jason Davies and Alicia Kae Herries are challenging. Renee is seeking a second term, Healy a fourth and Kearney is asking voters to continue his tenure on the council. Kearney was appointed to fill a council vacancy in 2011.
Questions ranged from whether the candidates supported a parks parcel tax on the ballot and continuing to fight the Dutra asphalt plan south of town — which all candidates did — to several queries about city economics and how to pay for services reduced by recent budget cuts.
The Sonoma County Democratic Party has endorsed the three most liberal of six Democrats running for Petaluma City Council in November, overruling the recommendations of a committee that interviewed all six candidates.
Democratic activists involved in the process characterize the change as an effort by the more progressive members of the party to assert their influence. They say the switch came after intense internal disagreement during the selection process.
Local elected offices in California are technically nonpartisan, although party politics can be influential.
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.
The field is becoming more crowded for candidates seeking the three Petaluma City Council seats up for election in November. Business owner and former software executive Jason Davies, who finished fourth in a race for three seats in 2010, entered the race this week. He joins Vice Mayor Tiffany Renee and Councilman Gabe Kearney, who seek reelection, and Alicia Kae Herries, a Planning Commissioner who announced her intent to run this spring.
The Petaluma City Council will again tackle the unexpectedly thorny issue of its members using electronic devices during meetings on Monday, this time with more technical information at their fingertips. The council discussed the issue in February, but got bogged down mostly on technology issues.
After three unofficial votes to fill its vacant seventh seat, the Petaluma City Council Monday night deadlocked again and opted to delay the decision for another month. “It would be counterproductive to go further with this, because it will serve to tear apart the body of six that is up here right now,” Mayor David Glass said.
UPDATE 8:45 AM: Twenty Petaluma residents — including former mayor and longtime Councilwoman Pam Torliatt — submitted formal applications Thursday to fill the potentially game-changing vacant seat on an ideologically split city council. See who else has tossed their name into the hat.