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Gorin meets with Sonoma Valley constituents

Published: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 6:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 6:41 p.m.

Christine Armstrong wants a community swimming pool in Sonoma.

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Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin.

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Jim Karabochos is pining for a storm drain.

Nancy Summer would like some credit — figuratively and literally — for restoring habitat for endangered coho salmon.

The three were the first in line Friday to meet with Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin during Gorin's first official office hours in the district she now represents.

Such meetings are the usual requirements of elected public servants. But Friday's by-appointment-only confabs at a county public health annex in Sonoma carried extra symbolic weight.

The knock on Gorin and John Sawyer, her opponent in the race for the 1st District supervisorial seat, was that they both are too centralized in Santa Rosa to understand the needs of Sonoma Valley residents.

So Gorin, a former Santa Rosa City Council member, on Friday drove to Sonoma from her rented home in Oakmont in a new Toyota Prius to hear what some of her constituents had to say.

Gorin was layered in sweaters and had a hummingbird pendant pinned to her chest. She jotted notes on a legal pad and had her iPad opened on the desk to consult her schedule.

Karabochos, who's lived in Sonoma Valley for 66 years, admitted to Gorin upfront that he favored Sawyer in the campaign. But he said he changed his mind at the last-minute and voted for Gorin.

“You're not a mud-slinger,” he told her. “You were honest.”

Karabochos brought photos of a flooded street near his home near the corner of Highway 12 and Leveroni Road in Sonoma — an area known locally as the “four corners” — that he said is the result of workers not installing a proper drain when they replaced a sewer line.

He also shared concerns about the intersection not having left-hand turn signals. He told Gorin that city and state officials had been promising that signals would be installed at any time.

“I can find out when 'due any time' is,” Gorin told him.

Karabochos expressed dismay about a roundabout being built on Arnold Drive at Agua Caliente Road at the entrance to the Hanna Boys Center. Gorin said she was unaware of the “skullduggery” that went into the approval and funding of the roundabout. She suggested that Valerie Brown, her predecessor on the board, had a hand in it.

She told Karabochos the project was a done deal but she promised to see whether its implementation could be delayed.

Armstrong's desire for a new swimming pool in Sonoma is one shared by a community group. Gorin said she would contact Ken Brown, the city's mayor, to see about including Armstrong's ideas in the plans.

“So my brilliant ideas and the ideas in your head are merging into one!” Armstrong said.

She told Gorin that her father helped Walt Disney design Disneyland.

“Do you have access to their money?” Gorin asked. “Do they want to build a pool in Sonoma?”

Summer, who lives in Kenwood, wanted to share concerns that the county's Open Space District is muscling in on private enterprise efforts to restore and maintain habitat for endangered species.

Summer purchased more than 400 acres adjacent to Austin Creek Recreation Area northwest of Guerneville for the purposes of creating the nation's first conservation bank for coho salmon.

Summer can sell conservation credits to developers whose projects could affect coho salmon habitat. But she complained that the Open Space District's ability to operate with taxpayer funds is putting her at a competitive disadvantage in the process.

She asked Gorin to vote against the district “going into the mitigation-project business.”

Following the 30-minute sessions, Gorin headed out for a private tour of vineyards owned by Gallo.

Her afternoon schedule included a meeting with Mark and Marlene Soiland, who along with their father, Marv Soiland, own the Stony Point Rock Quarry west of Cotati.

County supervisors in December unanimously supported expansion plans for the quarry.

Gorin said she will host office hours in Sonoma Valley on a monthly basis. “It is amazing how fast my schedule is filling up, she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or derek.moore@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @deadlinederek.

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