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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

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

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

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.

Patrick Flower

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.

If elected, she looks forward to creating a vision for the city’s fairgrounds property “that respects history while serving the community’s evolving needs.” Cader Thompson said she strongly supports “responsible growth” with housing that is not only affordable but that takes into account drought conditions and flooding.

Dylan Lloyd

Dylan Lloyd has lived in District 1 for nearly a decade and currently serves as chair of the Petaluma technology advisory committee, where he has launched discussions on how to use broadband and technology to “better inform decisions” on the city’s infrastructure and budget needs. With a seat on the City Council, he hopes to continue such efforts.

“I’m excited to work to advance a brighter future for our city, and look forward to making it an even better place for my wife, kids, and fellow citizens to live,” Lloyd said in a news release.

If elected, Lloyd also wants to prioritize roadway improvements, housing affordability, drought and environmental needs, the homelessness crisis and public safety.

District 2 candidates

District 2 spans the northeastern-most part of Petaluma, with Sonoma Mountain Parkway cutting through the center of the district. Border streets of this district include the eastern portion of East Washington Street at the south end, Maria Drive at the west end and Corona Road at the north end.

Bobb Kosoff

Working as an emergency medical technician since 1973, Bobb Kosoff had a longtime career in the health care industry until his retirement in April.

After he was a firefighter in the Los Angeles area, Kosoff worked at Kaiser as a senior orthopedic technologist and project manager, before transferring to Marin General as an orthopedic technologist in the operating room. He continues as a certified EMT in Sonoma County.

If elected, Kosoff wants to prioritize building a training center for the city’s fire and police departments, as well as increasing citywide access and involvement with Petaluma’s Latino communities. He said he greatly supports dual immersion learning.

David Adams

David Adams, a business owner and real estate agent, is a native Petaluman and has lived in his district for 30 years.

Adams grew up as an active FFA member and award-winning livestock owner, eventually becoming involved in programs that support local youth, seniors and homeless residents. Last year, Adams was the local representative for the National Elks Foundation and has been largely involved in fighting food insecurity by serving with nonprofits like the Salvation Army, Committee on the Shelterless and more.

“I am running for City Council to give back to the city that has provided so much to me and my family over the past one hundred plus years,” Adams said in an emailed statement.

If elected, Adams wants to not only give a voice to District 2 but the entire community, and strives to meet the needs of all.

John Shribbs

Throughout his 30 years in Petaluma, John Shribbs has built an extensive resume in science, education and environmental conservation.

Shribbs taught science at Casa Grande High school for 16 years and helped establish the school’s Outdoor Learning Environment Center and Native Plant Nursery. Currently the chair of the tree advisory committee and president of the Petaluma Wetlands Alliance, Shribbs has also been part of the leadership team at ReLeaf Petaluma and the Cool Cities initiative, and has led funding efforts for a number of local environmental preservation projects.

“I am running for City Council to maintain District 2 quality-of-life and ensure a healthy economic, social, and environmental future for Petaluma citywide,” Shribbs said in an emailed statement. “I know how our City operates and how to get things done – designing and revitalizing infrastructure, building parks and learning centers, and securing funding.”

If elected, Shribbs wants to focus not only on the city’s environmental infrastructure and addressing water supply and flood risk, but also on the city’s Safe Streets initiative, improving parks and pathways and retaining the fairgrounds’ agricultural heritage while adding open space and “building a new modern event arena.” He also supports affordable housing, expanding senior services and addressing homelessness.

District 3 candidates

This is the southernmost district, with its borders running along the Petaluma River, Highway 101, Crinella Drive and Casa Grande Road.

Karen Nau

Karen Nau, a longtime Petaluman and preschool teacher, served on the City Council in the early 2000s. She now seeks a return to that public service role, and believes she can “offer a fresh perspective to address the looming challenges” the city could face in the years ahead.

“Petaluma is at a crossroads, between deciding the fate of the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds to effectively investing the city’s new 1-cent sales tax towards improving our infrastructure, parks, and community spaces,” Nau said in a news release.

If elected, Nau looks to prioritize the improvement of city facilities and local roadways, including the connectivity between the east and west sides of town. Nau also has been largely involved in the city’s agricultural operations throughout her life, and supports the preservation of the Petaluma fairgrounds property to ensure future generations can carry on the city’s “deep-rooted agricultural history.”

John Hanania

John Hanania, a 32-year Petaluma resident, is a small-business owner who brings years of community involvement to his City Council bid, including advocacy for fair and safe law enforcement activity and wetlands restoration.

“I am running for City Council to prioritize quality-of-life for Petaluma families, youth, and seniors,” Hanania said in an emailed statement.

If elected, Hanania said he would support and prioritize Safe Streets and traffic reduction initiatives, the increase of affordable housing without “over developing” the city, expanding parks and open space and preserving the fairgrounds while adding a center for law enforcement and fire department services.

Robert Conklin

A fourth-generation Petaluman, Robert Conklin is making his third run for a seat on the City Council after running unsuccessfully in 2018 and 2020.

Conklin, a truck driver and construction professional, has voiced large support for the working class and labor rights.

“Whether you have lived here for generations or moved here last year, we love Petaluma for the same reasons: the fairgrounds, downtown, river, and most of all, the wonderful people,” Conklin said in a news release. “I am running for City Council to give District 3 a long-overdue voice in our local government, and to make Petaluma a place where working people can raise a family and enjoy their retirement.”

If elected, Conklin also looks to prioritize preserving and enhancing the fairgrounds property, creating a crosstown connector at Caulfield Lane, making roadways like Lakeville Highway safer, building a modern facility for first responders and increasing access to affordable housing.

Amelia Parreira is a staff writer for the Argus-Courier. She can be reached at amelia.parreira@arguscourier.com or 707-521-5208.

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