Election season is in full swing, with six candidates running for three seats on the City Council this November. The race includes three incumbents — Gabe Kearney, Tiffany Ren?, and Mike Healy, as well as three challengers — Planning Commissioner Alicia Kae Herries, technology business executive Jason Davies and business attorney and former Planning Commissioner Kathy Miller.
This will be 45-year-old business owner and former software executive Jason Davies' second bid for a City Council seat, following a run in 2010 where he finished fourth in a race for three seats.
Davies grew up in Palo Alto and moved to Petaluma in 2000 with his wife to work as an executive at the audio software company BIAS. Earlier this year, he founded a media technology company called Eleven Dimensions Media. Davies first lived in east Petaluma but now has a home on the west side.
Davies said he has long been interested in national politics but first got involved in Petaluma when he learned that the hospital was considering shutting down its maternity ward. He attended a forum at city hall to advocate for keeping it. "You start to realize that actually having an impact on your local community is more feasible, more directly applicable to your life," he said.
Another issue that galvanized his interest in local politics was opposing the Dutra Asphalt Plant. He spoke proudly of his active involvement in opposing the controversial plant as a member of Friends of Shollenberger.
Davies 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 referenced a "combined skill set" of marketing and technology when talking about what made him qualified for council, adding that he had already consulted with Economic Development Director Ingrid Alverde about how to attract and retain businesses.
Davies is serving his second term as chairman of the Technology Advisory Committee and also sits on the board of Petaluma Community Access.
Alicia Kae Herries, 42, is also fairly new to city politics, having served as a planning commissioner since 2010. Before that, she was appointed to the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women, where she still serves.
This is her first time running for City Council.
An executive coordinator at BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. in Novato, Herries first got interested in city politics when a dental office proposed expanding in her neighborhood and she and other residents rallied to oppose it, advocating for it to be scaled back.
The neighbors eventually sued the city after it had approved the project, claiming that the city hadn't fully considered the environmental impacts of the project, among other things.
Herries has also been active in opposing the East Wasthington Place shopping center.
Herries, who has lived in Petaluma since 2005, has been involved with a number of community groups, including the Petaluma Downtown Association and Petaluma river cleanup efforts. She also describes herself as a strong supporter of Friends of the Petaluma River, Mentor Me Petaluma and Save Shollenberger Park.
Herries lives on the east side of Petaluma near Leghorn Park.
Herries says she has stayed in politics because "I am a high-energy person who enjoys rolling up my sleeves and creating solutions that provide the best possible outcome for the long term."