Ballot set in Petaluma election races

Ten candidates will be on the November ballot seeking seats on Petaluma’s highest elected board, including three for the separately elected mayor’s seat and seven running for three open city council seats.

The crowded field includes longtime incumbent leaders, political newcomers and activists spurred to run for local office by the current political climate.

The race for mayor features three-term incumbent councilwoman Teresa Barrett, former councilman Mike Harris, who narrowly lost the mayoral race in 2014, and political newcomer Brian Powell, who can trace his roots in Petaluma back a century.

The city council candidates are Scott Alonso, Robert Conklin, D’Lynda Fischer, Dave King, Kevin McDonnell, Dennis Pocekay and Michael Regan.

Race for mayor

The Petaluma mayoral race was thrown wide open in February when longtime mayor David Glass, 70, announced he would not seek reelection. A self-described progressive, Glass was first elected mayor in 2002.

Though elected separately from the rest of the city council, the mayor of Petaluma has little additional power aside from running meetings and making public appearances.

Barrett, 70, Glass’s political ally, was first elected to the city council in 2006. Her top campaign issues are traffic congestion relief, housing affordability, street repairs, improving parks and fiscal responsibility. She has said she is in favor of building the Rainier crosstown connector, though she has questioned how to pay for the project.

She is in favor of increasing affordable housing fees charged to developers of residential projects in the city, and would like to increase the city’s hotel tax. She has been opposed to an increase in the sales tax. Barrett is endorsed by Rep. Jared Huffman and Rep. Mike Thompson.

Harris, 47, a conservative politician who campaigned for John McCain in 2008, served three terms on the city council from 2002 until 2014, when he lost to Glass by 84 votes. An executive for a local financial services company, he has served on several city boards and volunteer organizations including the Friends of SRJC’s Petaluma campus, the Petaluma Area Chamber of Commerce, Petaluma Educational Foundation and Petaluma Historical Library and Museum.

His key issues include the economic revitalization of the city, incrementally earmarking revenue for city infrastructure and making Petaluma a tourist destination. A former Sonoma County Transportation Authority representative, he is in favor of pushing to complete the Highway 101 widening project and the Rainier crosstown connector.

Powell, 38, the newcomer in the race, is the grandson of Philip Joerger, a former Petaluma councilman and county supervisor. A self-described scientist who does volunteer work helping chronically sick people, he has never held elected office. He said his key issue is stopping what he sees as rampant growth in Petaluma.

A father of a 10-year-old son, he coaches youth sports in Petaluma and has visions of opening a teen center in the city. He said he is in favor of keeping the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds land for the fair. He is against a proposed Safeway gas station on McDowell Boulevard, and he wants to ban spraying pesticides in the city.

City council race

King, 61, is the only incumbent running for one of three open seats after Chris Albertson decided to retire from the council and Barrett chose to run for mayor. A Petaluma attorney, King was first elected to the council in 2014. His top issues are housing affordability, road repairs and economic development. He has voted to advance the Rainier and Caulfield crosstown connector projects, and he helped draft an ordinance that bars Petaluma police from cooperating with federal immigration officials.

Alonso, 32, is the youngest candidate in the race. A planning commissioner, his key issue is creating more affordable housing, and he has supported requiring developers to include affordable units with their projects. He is in favor of building the Rainier connector and raising revenue to support road repairs, and he has proposed passing an ordinance to ban flavored tobacco products. Alonso works in media relations for the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.

Conklin, 39, a life-long Petaluma resident, works as a fleet service worker for the city of San Francisco. He grew up on the west side, played football for Petaluma High School, then bought a house on the east side of the city. His main issues are repairing streets, constructing new routes across the city to alleviate traffic, protecting the environment and attracting jobs to Petaluma.

Fischer, 58, moved to Petaluma four years ago. A former operations manager with Daily Acts, her background is in urban planning. Her key issues include more affordable housing, solutions to relieve traffic congestion, and allocating the resources necessary for city staff to provide adequate services.

McDonnell, 61, works as a project management consultant for North Bay cities. The chair of the city’s Recreation, Music, and Park Commission, he co-founded a citizen’s educational forum which promotes citizen engagement in pending Petaluma developments. He supports infill developments and traffic relief, including road diets in some places. He is against the proposed Safeway gas station and he wants a proposed public art project on Water Street reworked.

Pocekay, 68, has lived in Petaluma 27 years, and is a retired doctor. He is active in progressive causes in Petaluma, and currently volunteers with the North Bay Rapid Response Network, which helps immigrants facing deportation, and the North Bay Organizing Project, he works on social justice issues including establishing just cause eviction for tenants. He is in favor of more affordable housing, raising he minimum wage to $15 per hour, and he is against the Safeway gas station.

Regan, 38, chairs the city’s Transit Advisory Committee, and he is president of the Petaluma Educational Foundation. He started The Regan Team Home Loan Group with his wife in 2010. His main issues are public safety, housing for young families, seniors, and working people, addressing transportation issues including the Rainier crosstown connector and looking at the longterm future of the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds.

(Contact Matt Brown at

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