A ballot measure that would have transformed the election process for Santa Rosa City Council members failed Tuesday night. With all 64 precincts reporting, the vote was 60 percent opposed to Measure Q, while 40 percent supported it. Measure Q would have ended the current system of citywide council elections. Instead, Santa Rosa’s seven council members would have been chosen through district elections, similar to the system used for the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.
Political activists, some of them veterans, some new to the business of winning votes, gathered Saturday in Roseland, in the small living room of a McMinn Avenue home. The campaign was on to pass a ballot measure to change how Santa Rosa’s politicians are elected and perhaps alter the balance of power in the city. The Nov. 6 measure would split Santa Rosa’s electorate into seven districts, each to elect its own City Council member.
Looking back now, we can see that the fight over district elections was inevitable. For 20 years, Santa Rosa city officials talked about reaching out to neighborhoods beyond the upscale precincts of the northeast. But nothing changed. Whether City Hall insiders were unable or unwilling to share power, each new city government looked pretty much like the last city government. Think older, whiter and living in a handful of privileged neighborhoods. And so the debate over Measure Q begins.
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.
The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District said Friday it is requiring a tax repeal effort to attach an agency-written statement to its petitions, despite state officials’ warning that SMART’s action oversteps its authority.
Cloverdale has struggled since the decline of the timber industry and the construction of a Highway 101 bypass around the outskirts of town. Economic growth and a healthy city budget remain top priorities for the five City Council candidates. Today, we turn the WSC spotlight on Cloverdale
Measure Q would create an Urban Growth Boundary around the city of Cloverdale. Supporters say the boundary would prevent sprawl while allowing development in two areas near the airport and the Asti winery. Opponents say the exceptions unfairly benefit Australian wine giant Foster’s Wine Estates. Check out the arguments on both sides. What do you think?