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Retired Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm to run for City Council

Former Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm said Thursday he plans to run for City Council in November.

The 53-year-old career cop retired in December after nearly 31 years with the department, the last 4-1/2 as chief.

"I'm a big believer in being an active participant in the community," Schwedhelm said Thursday. "I love this place and I think I still have more to contribute to this city."

Schwedhelm has been rumored for weeks to be mulling a run. He has kept up his public profile since retiring Dec. 20, including speaking in support of The Dream Center transitional housing facility at the Planning Commission earlier this month.

His announcement is certain to shake up a race that has already seen two incumbents -#8212; Jake Ours and Robin Swinth -#8212; decide not to defend their seats.

The married father of two is likely to make a formidable candidate. He's well-known in the community and respected for his collaborative leadership style. He lives in the northwest area of the city and is a registered Republican.

"Of the candidates in the race, he immediately jumps to the front," Sonoma State University political scientist David McCuan said.

Schwedhelm is the third person to announce a run for council. Planning Commissioner Curtis Byrd and former Press Democrat columnist Chris Coursey are also running. Mayor Scott Bartley is also up for reelection, but hasn't announced his future plans.

If elected, Schwedhelm would become the second former Santa Rosa cop on the seven-member council, joining retired police lieutenant Ernesto Olivares, who was first elected in 2008.

Schwedhelm said he has been thinking about running for a while, but only finalized his decision after Swinth and Ours made their recent announcements. He said he respects both council members and isn't sure if he would have challenged them for their seats.

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