PD Editorial: City Council picks another from Santa Rosa east side
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 5:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 5:58 p.m.
The Santa Rosa City Council will face many challenges this year — budget difficulties, infrastructure demands and more long-term debt issues, many of them related to meeting retirement obligations. But no decision this year may be more important than the one the City Council made this evening in appointing someone to serve the remaining two years in the term of
We wish the community had more time to meet and hear from them all, particularly those who are relatively new to the political scene. As we noted in our Saturday editorial, we are frustrated with the city's inexplicable haste in filling this position. The names and applications had been known publicly just three business days before the interviews took place.
And in keeping with its rush, the council went ahead and voted tonight, picking Robin Swinth on four ballots. In the process, it perpetuated another unfortunate practice — of having a City Council dominated by eastside residents.
Let's be clear. We have no doubt that Swinth, 45, a Santa Rosa native, will be a fine addition to the council given her broad experience on the Planning Commission and, more recently, her experience on the Board of Public Utilities. She demonstrates a strong command of the city's challenges and has shown she would approach them with the eye of a fiscal conservative and engineer — a former Agilent employee — and with the heart of an environmentalist.
But, as we have stated previously, we believe this opening provided a rare opportunity for the City Council to appoint a westside resident, which, as the recent debate over district elections underscored, has been woefully under-represented.
Based on our own interviews with many of the candidates, as well as our evaluations of all the applicants, their packets and their interviews before the City Council on Monday, we believed the City Council had a number of excellent westside applicants from which to choose, the top being Curtis Byrd, David Rosas and Don Taylor.
Byrd, 57, a member of the Planning Commission, has deep roots in the community as the grandson of activists Alice and Gilbert Gray, founders of the local NAACP branch. His track record suggests his only committed ideology is doing what's in the best interests of the city.
The same can be said of Rosas, 50, president of the Roseland School Board and a director of the Santa Rosa Community Health Center.
But in the end, we believe the candidate who deserved the appointment most was Don Taylor.
As it turned out, the two finalists in the council's balloting were Taylor and Swinth — one from the west side of Highway 101 and one of the east side. And the council did what the city is known for. It looked east.
It was another missed opportunity.