About a year after he was elected to represent Petaluma area residents on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, David Rabbitt gave a talk about county government to a local Rotary Club. During a wide-ranging presentation that covered a myriad of issues, from the desperate need for road repairs to skyrocketing public employee pension costs, Rabbit did more than demonstrate a firm grasp of the many challenges facing county government. He also showed he was a passionate advocate for making county government work better by vigorously pursuing practical solutions to big problems.
Since that time, Rabbitt may not have fixed all those problems. County roads are still among the worst in the entire Bay Area. And public employee pension costs are still climbing higher every year, leaving less money available for government services.
But what has earned Rabbitt the respect and appreciation of a growing number of Petaluma residents is his dedication and hard work at making incremental progress to fixing these and other seemingly intractable problems of great concern to local voters.
As he seeks another four-year term as supervisor, Rabbitt is being challenged by Penngrove rancher John King who ran unsuccessfully for the post four years ago.
Whoever is elected to the five-member Board of Supervisors will be charged with overseeing a $1.3 billion annual budget covering a host of public services, including law enforcement, road maintenance, courts and criminal prosecution, land use planning, health and human service programs, open space and agricultural preservation, regional parks and water supply and transmission. While tax revenues are just beginning to rebound following the Great Recession, most county services remain depleted and tough decisions will be required to make the best use of increasingly scarce resources.
Such decisions affect all of the county's nearly half million residents, so it's vital that the South County's supervisor be experienced and knowledgeable on a wide range of government issues, demonstrate sound judgment, be able to work effectively with diverse constituents and possess the skills to find solutions to complicated problems.
Over the last three-and-a-half years as supervisor, Rabbitt has proven he is up to the task.
Throughout his political career, first as a Petaluma City Council member and now as county supervisor, Rabbitt has demonstrated a thoughtful, common-sense approach to governance marked by carefully listening to diverse constituent concerns and working hard to forge consensus when appropriate. He is a straightforward, pragmatic representative with a tendency to ask lots of questions and dig into the details of an issue before casting his vote.
As chairman of the board during the last two years, Rabbitt has demonstrated strong and measured leadership. Unlike some of his colleagues, who have used the supervisor's seat as a stepping stone to higher office, Rabbitt is a citizen politician who simply wants to serve his community to the best of his ability. He approaches fiscal, land-use and infrastructure issues with an open mind and a keen intellect, analyzing all details before rendering independent decisions that are based upon what is best for the county.
Rabbitt appreciates the importance of a strong and diverse local economy, and has sought to balance economic development goals with environmental preservation, realizing that such goals need not be mutually exclusive. He understands the need for clear government policies that business owners can follow in order to unleash innovation and job creation, and has been a consistent advocate for sensible and balanced policies aimed at providing new jobs.