Who’s running for Petaluma office in Nov. 8 election
A mix of political newcomers and returning faces will make up the competitive ballot for key Petaluma city government races in the November election.
Eight candidates have filed to run for just three open seats on the Petaluma City Council and four for the at-large mayoral spot in the Nov. 8 general municipal election, which will mark Petaluma voters’ first time electing representatives based on district.
Here’s a look at who’s running.
At-large mayoral candidates
Kevin McDonnell, a 38-year Petaluman, has served on the City Council since 2018 after he was chair of the recreation, music and park commission. He has since been part of the city’s youth commission, the public arts committee, the planning commission and the pedestrian and bicycle committee.
As co-founder of the “responsible development” citizens engagement group Know Before You Grow, McDonnell has worked on local roadway safety and homelessness solutions.
“We’ve done many good things to get folks the help that they need and I will focus on getting the resources to make a difference in people’s life’s and for the people of Petaluma,” McDonnell said in an emailed statement.
If elected mayor, he hopes to continue prioritizing such initiatives, as well as focusing on the next phase of the city’s general plan, access to affordable and equitable housing, the climate crisis and keeping up with the city budget and available funds. Above all, his first item as mayor would be to focus on the fairgrounds’ leasing process, which he hopes would lead to an extension of the current lease to leave room for more community input.
D’Lynda Fischer, a longtime urban planner and current City Council member, moved to Petaluma in 2014. She was elected to the Council four years later.
Since then, she has focused on climate change solutions, bringing Sonoma County’s first climate emergency resolution and the country’s first ban on new gas stations. More recently, she led the effort to secure a $1 million grant from the Cool City Challenge to help the city reach climate action goals and for neighborhoods to strengthen resiliency from future disasters.
If elected mayor, she hopes to continue such efforts to “help make Petaluma a healthier, more equitable and livable city for all,” according to a news release.
Susan Kirks, a conservation consultant, has lived in Petaluma for 22 years, and is running for mayor after an unsuccessful bid for a City Council seat in 2020. Kirks said that much of her time spent in Petaluma has been dedicated to serving the community, and she has been involved with organizations including housing nonprofit Rebuilding Together.
“I’m about creating structure to support realizing a vision and, as a Mayor, I would be the spark for our City Council to transcend division and make decisions to serve our community, to make life better for all of us,” Kirks said in an emailed statement.
Her top priority is environmental preservation and, if elected, Kirks strives to help form policy over land use, including housing and transportation infrastructure, while keeping wildlife habitat and natural resources in mind, as well as keeping open spaces like the fairgrounds available for an evacuation center.
Kirks currently serves as president of the Madrone Audubon Society and co-founder of the Paula Lane Action Network, which has led efforts in preserving area wildlife.
Now a retired process re-engineer, Patrick Flower has a background in solutions architecture, management, data analysis, systems integration and information security, according to his website.
A list of priorities and a photo of Flower were not able to be immediately obtained.
District 1 candidates
District 1 is the only district that spans both the east and west sides of the city, stretching from the northern portion of the city limits to central Petaluma on the district’s south end and from Maria Drive to the north side of Petaluma Boulevard North.
Janice Cader Thompson
After growing up in east Petaluma in an agricultural family, Janice Cader Thompson has lived in District 1 for 30 years, where she has advocated for “responsible development and better transportation/water infrastructure.” She previously served on the City Council from 1998 to 2002.
“The principle of respect will be foremost in all my council decisions: respect for you, your tax dollars and our community,” Cader Thompson said in an emailed statement.
If elected, her priorities would include traffic and road safety; addressing homelessness and mental health; expanding recycled water to more public parks; and ensuring mobile home parks remain affordable.