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King keeps Petaluma council seat; 2 newcomers ahead

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CITY COUNCIL RACE

Unofficial Petaluma City Council results

Dave King (i) 7,589 votes 17.3%

Kevin McDonnell 7,257 votes 16.6%

D’Lynda Fischer 6,176 votes 14.1%

Dennis Pocekay 6,079 votes 13.9%

Michael Regan 5,924 votes 13.5%

Scott Alonso 5,595 votes 12.8%

Robert Conklin 5,192 votes 11.9%

Petaluma voters made their intentions clear at the ballots Tuesday, casting votes in favor of the progressive-leaning city council candidates that will challenge developers and promote sustainability in the coming years.

With three seats up for grabs and seven candidates in the mix, incumbent Dave King secured a second term with 17 percent of the vote. He was trailed closely by Kevin McDonnell, who earned 17 percent.

With all 22 precincts reporting, D’Lynda Fischer, who won 14 percent, held a slim, 97-vote lead over Dennis Pocekay for the final seat.

However, with thousands of mail-in votes still being tallied, city officials said the final count could take weeks to certify.

Still, victory was assured for King, a local civil rights attorney who’s provided a swing vote on many issues for a council that was both collegial and effective during his first term.

“There was an election where there was going to be some change on the council, and I think it’s a reflection of doing a good enough job to be there another four years,” King said. “Where I fit is someone who’s not in a minority, majority position. I think we’ve achieved a lot in four years … and I think enough people appreciate that.”

McDonnell, an experienced civil engineer and the chair of the Recreation, Music and Parks Commission, will fill one of the seats vacated by retirees Chris Alberton and Mayor David Glass. Councilwoman Teresa Barrett secured the mayoral seat over challenger Mike Harris.

McDonnell has served on multiple committees, and co-founded Know Before You Grow, an organization dedicated to increasing fluency when it comes to development.

“I’m ecstatic,” he said. “You work really hard for something and have no control of the outcome and it turns out well. I’m excited for what we can do. I’m so grateful for all the people that helped.”

Fischer, a local nonprofit consultant emphasizing environmentally conscious growth, was reluctant to say anything definitive Wednesday, preferring to take a more cautious approach with votes still being counted.

If the results hold and she does, in fact, get elected, Fischer said she wants to honor her promise of increasing local engagement by establishing citizen-led committees to tackle issues like the Rainier crosstown connector.

“It’s not just about me, it’s about everyone that supported me and (empowering) everyone that knows more than I do to help me,” she said. “The platforms I ran on were holding town hall meetings and having an opportunity (for Petalumans) to get involved in the process.”

Even with the results awaiting certification, Pocekay was preparing for a defeat Wednesday. The retired medical professional and social justice advocate said he was touched by the response to his race local voters demonstrated at the polls.

“I’m not too optimistic about catching up to D’Lynda,” Pocekay said. “The main thing I’ve got on my mind and my biggest thought is that I’ve been a very lucky person and I’ve always been loved, but I’ve never felt as loved as I did running for city council. I feel good about what we did and the things we brought up.”

The remaining three candidates with an outside chance of catching up were mortgage adviser Michael Regan, planning commissioner Scott Alonso, and transportation technician Robert Conklin. They were at 14 percent, 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively, and could each gain ground as the votes are finalized.

CITY COUNCIL RACE

Unofficial Petaluma City Council results

Dave King (i) 7,589 votes 17.3%

Kevin McDonnell 7,257 votes 16.6%

D’Lynda Fischer 6,176 votes 14.1%

Dennis Pocekay 6,079 votes 13.9%

Michael Regan 5,924 votes 13.5%

Scott Alonso 5,595 votes 12.8%

Robert Conklin 5,192 votes 11.9%

Regan, the former chair of the Transit Advisory Committee, ran a campaign focused on addressing the needs of Petaluma’s shorthanded public safety departments. He also emphasized his knowledge of the housing landscape as an advantage for helping tackle the city’s housing crisis.

Trailing by 252 votes, he said he was surprised his platform didn’t resonate, but it will be “business as usual,” maintaining his active role in the community.

“It was a heck of an experience that I don’t regret,” Regan said. “I feel blessed and so thankful that there were almost 6,000 people that still voted for me. I look at the positives. People appreciated what I was trying to do.”

Alonso, who serves as the public information officer for the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, said he will continue providing a voice for young and working class families as vice chair of the planning commission. His term continues until 2021.

“I feel disappointed about how everything turned out, but I think, overall, ran a good race, kept it positive and I think we were able to engage a lot of new people in the process,” Alonso said. “I hope people use this energy … to remain involved in city government and city life.”

The other working class advocate was Conklin, a lifelong Petaluman that had tempered his expectations early on as a political newcomer.

He ran to provide a platform for underrepresented residents and to encourage engagement from Petalumans that criticize without participation. Conklin said he “proved his point,” and was proud that he didn’t have to compromise his values in order to earn votes.

“I never got into this to be a politician,” he said. “This is my town and I’m going to be here for the rest of my life. I wanted people to pay attention.”

(Contact News Editor Yousef Baig at yousef.baig@arguscourier.com or 776-8461, and on Twitter @YousefBaig.)