Brian Powell, a political newcomer with deep Petaluma roots, has entered the city’s mayoral race, joining two local politicians in the November contest.
Powell, 38, said he is running to protect Petaluma from what he sees as unchecked growth that is out-pacing the city’s struggling infrastructure.
“Over the past 20 years, people haven’t been making the best decisions for Petalumans. It’s time for a change,” Powell said. “Continuing to add more homes is the reason we have this problem. We need to stop development.”
A Petaluma High School graduate, Powell’s family has lived in the city for a century, he said. His grandfather, Philip Joerger, served on the Petaluma City Council and was elected to the county Board of Supervisors.
Powell describes himself as a scientist who does volunteer work helping chronically sick people. He has never held elected office. A father of a 10-year-old son, he coaches youth sports in Petaluma.
“I have a passion for helping people,” he said.
Besides ending development, Powell said he hopes to fix the city’s streets, which rank as some of the worst in the Bay Area.
“Four more years of poor decisions and there will be nothing left of Petaluma,” he said. “If we keep expanding, this will be another Silicon Valley. This is an agricultural community.”
Powell enters the race with relatively little name recognition compared to his opponents, Mike Harris and Teresa Barrett. Harris, a former city councilman, narrowly lost the 2014 mayor’s race to David Glass, who is not seeking reelection. Barrett has won three city council elections and has served on the council since 2006.
“My opponents have a proven track record of making horrible decisions,” Powell said. “They don’t speak for us.”
He is against small cell phone towers in neighborhoods, and he is opposed to a Safeway gas station proposal on McDowell Boulevard.
Powell said he is also campaigning to keep the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds intact, including the Petaluma Speedway. Several proposals have been floated over the years to develop the land in the heart of the city once the fair’s lease runs out in 2024.
He also wants to open a teen center and pledged to volunteer as a youth mentor. A former baseball player, he said he would like to attract a semi-pro baseball team to town to compete in the same league as the Sonoma Stompers.
Powell said his family’s roots in the community and observing the changes over the decades caused him to enter the race.
“I’m running to stop the expansion of Petaluma,” he said. “I needed to step up.”
(Contact Matt Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.)