PD Editorial: City Council picks another from Santa Rosa east side

  • Robin Swinth is the newest Santa Rosa City Council member (The Press Democrat)

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 Susan Gorin.

This afternoon and into this evening, all 17 people who applied for the position paraded before the council in 15-minute intervals. The march included long- and short-time residents, business owners, neighborhood activists, political newcomers and those with a long track record of government experience. It's clear each would have brought a unique balance of life and practical experience to the job.

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.

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