Longtime Councilman Mike Harris has entered the race for Petaluma mayor, setting the stage for a rousing election next year that could again tip the political scales in Petaluma.
Harris declared on Wednesday his intentions to challenge Mayor David Glass in November 2014. Glass announced last year that he will seek re-election.
Both men are longtime Petalumans who have been elected several times to local office and generally are on opposite ends of the political spectrum.
As such, political observers say, many voters may have already aligned themselves with their favored candidate.
Harris, 42, has received support from the business community, including developers, real estate interests and builders. He is the council's only Republican, although the race is nonpartisan.
Glass has seen support from environmentalists and the progressive elements of the Democratic party. He and former mayor Pam Torliatt, the only other candidate to have filed election papers for a 2014 council seat, have held mutual fundraisers.
In last year's election, voters tilted the council toward the pro-business side, electing Mike Healy, Kathy Miller and Gabe Kearney. They often align with Harris and Chris Albertson, while Glass tends to vote along the same lines as Teresa Barrett.
In his announcement, Harris, an executive with a Petaluma-based financial services company, implied voters were on the right path.
"There is only one more thing we need to do to put this city on the road to real recovery," he said, "and that is to elect a new mayor."
Glass, 65, who recently retired from the municipal bond industry after more than two decades, said he welcomes the challenge.
"When you have the background of longevity that Harris and I both have, bring it on," he said. "Let's have a series of debates instead of having a lot of 30-second sound-bites and snippets.
"I don't think you can get a more defined choice," Glass said.