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.
Besides mayor and city council, Petaluma voters will elect members of several other local boards and decide ballot measures this November.
The Petaluma Joint Union High School District, the largest school district in Petaluma, will have seven candidates running for three open seats. Incumbents Mike Baddeley, Sheri Chlebowski and Phoebe Ellis will face challengers Mady Cloud, Joanna Paun, Caitlin Quinn and Kimy Ruiz Seitz.
Old Adobe School District, which includes five east Petaluma schools, will have four candidates running for three open seats. Incumbents Michael Fung, Patsy Knight and Anthony Bendik are seeking reelection against a challenge from Kimberly Shaver.
Voters in the Petaluma Health Care District, which owns Petaluma Valley Hospital, will select two board members from three candidates. Incumbent Joe Stern faces challengers Crista Barnett Chelemedos and Gabriella Ambrosi. Incumbent Josephine Thornton is not seeking reelection.
In all other local districts, not enough candidates filed to qualify the race for the ballot.
Voters in the Shoreline Unified School District, which includes areas west of Petaluma, will decide on Measure I, a school bond measure, while the Old Adobe School District is seeking to pass its school bond, Measure L. Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District will have a parcel tax on the ballot, Measure W.