Council race: Renee in, Kerns not sure
Published: Monday, July 16, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 13, 2012 at 1:26 p.m.
Councilmember and Vice Mayor Tiffany Renée threw her hat into the election ring on Monday, joining Councilmember Gabe Kearney and Planning Commissioner Alicia Kae Herries in the race for three Petaluma City Council seats this November.
Three councilmembers' terms expire this year: Renée's, Kearney's, and Mike Healy's. Healy has yet to announce whether or not he will run, while former county supervisor Mike Kerns said he is considering but hasn't made a final decision on a bid for a council seat.
The deadline to file election papers with the city is Aug. 10, though that can be extended to Aug. 15 for non-incumbents if Healy, Renee, or Kearney chooses not to run.
So far, Herries and Renée have filed “intention to run” statements, said City Clerk Claire Cooper.
Kearney noted that to date, the field of those running for the seven-member council is slimmer than usual, adding that he was surprised there wasn't talk of more community members or former council members running.
“Usually by this time you hear rumblings,” he said. “This year, for whatever reason, we're just not hearing from people.”
Former Petaluma police sergeant and county supervisor Mike Kerns acknowledged that he was considering running for council, but said he hasn't made a decision yet.
“I thought when I retired from being supervisor I was done,” he said, “But I've had friends encourage me to run.”
He said he liked and respected everyone currently on the council, though he added, “I'm concerned about the future of the city, the direction it's moving in.”
This spring, as Renée sought election to the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by longtime Rep. Lynn Woolsey, it seemed doubtful that she would run for a second council term if her bid for congress failed.
Renée finished 8th of 12 candidates for the congressional seat in June.
She said earlier that while she wasn't ruling out running, being on the council had become financially stressful for her family.
“I hadn't expected to run actually,” she said on Monday, but added that ongoing city budget issues and the potential passage of a sales tax measure she has proposed have caused her to reconsider.
“I thought if we could get a sales tax measure on the ballot, that would be an important achievement to be able to walk away from council with,” she said. But now that it appears that the tax measure will be a general purpose one, where the money isn't designated for a specific purpose, she wants to stick around to ensure that the money goes to what she sees as the city's most critical needs, like public safety and social services.
Renée listed some of her other top priorities as “quality, living wage job growth, improving our transportation infrastructure, and protecting Petaluma's quality of life and the environment with healthy food, clean air and water, and lush open spaces.”
Kearney will be running for his first full-length term of four years this fall. He ran unsuccessfully for the post two years ago, then was appointed to a two-year term in early 2011 to finish off David Glass' term when he was elected mayor.
Herries has not served on city council before. She was appointed to the commission in 2010 and her term runs through June 2014. She said she is already meeting with residents and business owners to hear their concerns and ideas, and also just held her first fundraiser.
There has been speculation that former mayor and councilmember Pam Torliatt might run as well, but the Argus-Courier could not reach her by press time.
(Contact Jamie Hansen at Jamie.hansen@argus courier.com.)
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