The owner of the empty lot where 13-year-old Andy Lopez died more than six weeks ago is in talks with people who want to turn it into a memorial park for the slain boy.
Sonoma County has issued nearly 185,000 vote-by-mail ballots for Tuesday’s election, a new record that represents 71 percent of registered voters.
But it also means that any close race — such as the 1st District supervisorial contest between Santa Rosa City Council members Susan Gorin and John Sawyer — may remain unresolved for up to four weeks after the election.
The burgeoning number of absentee voters, along with high voter participation and a lengthy ballot in the presidential election, virtually guarantees that officials will need the full 28 days allowed by law to tally the vote, county elections chief Janice Atkinson said Thursday.
As the race for four seats on the Santa Rosa City Council enters the final stretch, political observers are focused less on Mayor Ernesto Olivares and Councilman Gary Wysocky and more on which candidates may ride their coattails into office. Both incumbents are expected to hold onto their seats on the seven-member council, leaving the fight for third and fourth place as the real battleground where the balance of power on the next council will be decided.
The most sweeping change in years to the way Santa Rosa city councilmembers are selected heads to voters this fall, and rival campaigns already have begun marshalling their forces for and against the idea of electing City Council members by districts. Both sides have formed committees to raise money for the coming fight, recruited former mayors to support their positions, and are benefitting from the talent of some of the city’s top political consultants.
They were older, white, political insiders and live in northeast Santa Rosa. That’s largely who decided what changes to city by-laws the City Council should consider putting before the voters in November. The vice-chairman of the 21-member Charter Review Committee acknowledged as much to the council last week.
The failure of three Santa Rosa City Council candidates to disclose that they were sharing expenses during the 2010 campaign violated state law, the state’s campaign finance watchdog has concluded. Santa Rosa city council members Scott Bartley and Jake Ours and unsuccessful council candidate Juan Hernandez received warning letters recently but no fines from the state Fair Political Practices Commission, which investigated the matter.
District elections got a surprise boost Thursday when the committee that tentatively voted against it two weeks ago reversed course and agreed the issue should be put before voters. Several members of the 21-member Charter Review Committee cited the large, impassioned turnout of residents at the public forum on the issue last Saturday as influencing their thinking.
For anyone with ideas about how to improve the way Santa Rosa is governed, it’s time to step up to the microphone. Santa Rosa’s charter review process — a once-a-decade mini-Constitutional Convention — hosts a special public forum Saturday.
Once every decade, Santa Rosans focus on the people and neighborhoods who are under-represented in city government. One side endorses district elections as the only way to bring political equality to the city. The other side says everything is OK and district elections wouldn’t work anyway.
Voters shouldn’t be given the chance to decide whether members of the City Council should be elected from districts instead of the city as a whole. That is the preliminary conclusion of the city’s Charter Review Committee, which took its first straw poll Thursday on the most controversial issue before it: district elections.