Plans for a public power agency and the renewable energy projects that could sprout with it appear to have scrambled politics in Sonoma County.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider zoning changes that would open up more land, including some agricultural, industrial and business parcels, to commercial-scale renewable energy projects.
The official election results are in, but who’ll be the next mayor of Santa Rosa remains anyone’s guess.
Once new City Council members Erin Carlstrom and Julie Combs are sworn in Tuesday, the new council’s first order of business will be to select a mayor from their ranks.
It’s usually a predictable decision, with the gavel (and an extra $400 per month) passing to the most experienced member in the majority who has not yet held the post.
But this year all bets are off.
The election of attorney Erin Carlstrom has upended the city’s political apple cart, making the 29-year-old political newcomer the swing vote on the issue and leading to intense speculation about whom she’ll support.
Carlstrom says she’s taking the decision seriously and has been listening closely to a variety of viewpoints.
Susan Gorin and John Sawyer long have been rivals on the Santa Rosa City Council, staking out contrasting positions on land use, fiscal issues and neighborhood involvement.
But the election to decide who takes over the 1st District seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, held for 10 years by Valerie Brown, marks the first time the political opposites have become opponents on the ballot.
The bruising runoff, now more than a year old, is being fought along familiar fronts for the candidates and their dueling political camps.
When Ernie Carpenter entered the race two months ago to challenge first-term incumbent Efren Carrillo, he both shocked the district and pleased one of its biggest constituencies — the conservation and environmental community. Environmentalists had been concerned that Carrillo’s opponent, former Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Veronica Jacobi, was no match for Carrillo’s four years in office and his ability to raise money. Carrillo rejects attempts to characterize him as pro-development at the expense of the environment.
Ernie Carpenter, a former Sonoma County supervisor, is jumping into the race for his former west county seat, setting up a potentially stiff challenge to first-term incumbent Supervisor Efren Carrillo. Carpenter, 69, of Occidental, who was first elected in 1980 and served 16 years on the board, joins former Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Veronica Jacobi in trying to unseat Carrillo from his 5th District office.
Facing a Friday deadline to turn in petitions, opponents of a Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit train are still not sure if they will be able to force an election to repeal the SMART sales tax. RepealSmart organizers think they have collected close to 15,000 signatures, but the threshold they must clear is disputed.
A Windsor organization said Friday it has filed a salvo of complaints with federal and state agencies regarding Sonoma County Conservation Action, reviving a more than decade-old battle between the groups on opposite sides of the environmental divide.