November election takes shape
Published: Friday, August 17, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 11:09 a.m.
With the smell of campaign kickoff barbecues in the air and signs for candidates and ballot measures popping up in yards, its clear that election season is underway.
Petaluma Health Care District
Incumbent Stephen Steady will not be running for reelection, and Elece Hempel, executive director of the Petaluma People Services Center, was the only newcomer to file papers. She will take Steady's seat in the new year.
The following school boards will not have elections, as incumbents are running unopposed: Petaluma Joint Elementary and High School District Board, Waugh School District and Wilmar School District.
In the Old Adobe School district, incumbent Mary Colbert did not file papers by the Aug. 10 deadline, so the deadline was extended for non-incumbents to file until the close of the business day on Wednesday, Aug. 15, after the Argus-Courier went to press. As of Tuesday, David Watts was the only newcomer to file papers. If nobody else filed by the end of the day on Wednesday, then Watts would take Colbert's place at the end of the year and there would be no election.
There will be no races for board seats in the rural fire districts surrounding Petaluma.
The only local ballot initiative will be Measure X, commonly known as the Petaluma Friends of Recreation Parcel Tax. The measure would levy a $52 annual parcel tax for 15 years, which organizers say would raise about $12 million to fund improvements on specified recreation facilities, from to playing fields, swimming pools to walking trails.
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Aug. 15 marked the final deadline for putting a candidate or cause on the ballot, so Petalumans can now see what they'll be asked to weigh in on in November.
Six candidates will be vying for three City Council seats, including incumbents Gabe Kearney, Tiffany Renée, and Mike Healy.
Also running will be planning commissioner Alicia Kae Herries, technology business executive Jason Davies and business attorney and former planning commissioner Kathy Miller.
Kearney, head of emergency planning and disaster preparedness for Kaiser Permanente in Sonoma and Marin Counties, was the first to announce that he would run for reelection. He ran unsuccessfully for council two years ago, then was appointed to a two-year term in early 2011 following David Glass's election to mayor in 2010. He's been an active member of the Sonoma County Young Democrats and has said he prides himself on bringing a youthful, new perspective to the council.
Herries, an executive coordinator at BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. in Novato, was the next to announce her candidacy. She was appointed to the Planning Commisison in 2010 and her term runs through 2014. Before being appointed to the commission, she opposed the East Washington Place shopping center and organized opposition to a controversial dentist's office building project on El Rose Drive.
Herries has also been involved in a number of community groups, including being Officer-at-Large for the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women and volunteering with Rebuilding Together and the Petaluma Downtown Association.
Councilmember and Vice Mayor Tiffany Renée announced that she would run in mid-July, citing ongoing city budget issues as one of her main reasons for running again.
First elected to City Council in 2008, Renée put in a bid this spring for the congressional seat that Rep. Lynn Woolsey will be vacating at the end of the year. She finished 8th of 12 candidates in the June primary.
During her time on council, Renée, who owns a web design company, has sat on numerous boards, including that of the Sonoma County Transportation Agency. She has also tended to vote for tighter restrictions on development projects and voted to deny the East Washington Place (Target) and Deer Creek Village (Friedman's) shopping center proposals. This summer, she proposed a sales tax increase to address the city's budget problems.
Davies became the fourth person to say he'd run for council, also in July. This will be the business owner and former software executive's second bid for a seat, following an unsuccessful run in 2010.
Davies, who was previously vice president of business development of the audio software company BIAS and is the founder and CEO of media technology company Eleven Dimensions Media, told the Argus-Courier that part of the reason he is running is that he thinks more can be done to bring revenue to Petaluma by promoting local business and attracting new technology companies to Petaluma.
Davies is serving his second term as chairman of the Technology Advisory Committee, is a member of Friends of Shollenberger, and sits on the board of Petaluma Community Access.
Most recently, Healy and Miller announced that they'd be running, and as a “team.” This would be Healy's fourth term as a council member, while it is Miller's first time running for council.
In addition to being chair of the Planning Commission for a year, Miller, an attorney, is a founding member of Petaluma Friends of Recreation, the nonprofit organization responsible for putting a parcel tax on the November ballot that would fund specific park improvements around town. She was ousted from the Planning Commission in 2009 when the City Council controversially consolidated the Planning Commission and Site Plan and Architectural Review Committee and removed all but three of the 12 sitting members on the two boards.
She described herself, along with Healy, as a “moderate” who is willing to listen to all sides and carefully weigh arguments in making a decision that's in the best interest of the city.
Healy, who has been active in opposing nearby casino projects and voted to approve the Target and Friedman's shopping centers, said in a statement that he thought Miller would bring “additional business sense” to the council, also applauding her work on the Planning Commission and her advocacy for Petaluma's Parks.
Healy, also an attorney, is finishing his third term. In a fourth term, he said, “I'd be looking to make real progress on some long term goals, including the Novato Narrows and Rainier, which in both cases I think are right on the cusp.”
Nearly every candidate listed fixing the city's finances and repairing streets as two of their top priorities.
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