s
s
Sections
Sections
Search
Subscribe

SR council race brings political shift


Political newcomer Gary Wysocky became the top voter-getter in the race for Santa Rosa?s City Council, overcoming a 900-vote deficit to overtake Mayor John Sawyer in the late vote count Tuesday.

The final vote tally had Wysocky garnering 25,211 votes, or 13.7 percent, to Sawyer?s 24,613 votes, or 13.4 percent.

Despite the switch in positions both were victorious Tuesday, as were incumbent Jane Bender, former councilwoman Marsha Vas Dupre and Police Lt. Ernesto Olivares.

All five held healthy leads over their other rivals throughout the evening.

Wysocky, Sawyer, Olivares and Vas Dupre were being challenged by seven others for the four, four-year seats up for election.

Their challengers included incumbents Lee Pierce and Carol Dean, who were both defeated.

And Bender won an easy victory against three lesser known challengers to fill the remaining two years of former mayor Bob Blanchard?s term. Blanchard died in June after a three year battle with cancer.

Tuesday?s election, however, likely marked the end of the long-time majority of pro-business council members ? Sawyer, Bender, Dean and Blanchard ? on the council.

The election of Wysocky and Vas Dupre to the seven-member council is expected to create a more environmentally and labor-friendly majority that would include current Council Members Susan Gorin and Veronica Jacobi.

Tuesday?s returns were in keeping with tracking polls over the past two months that consistently found Bender, Sawyer, Vas Dupre and Wysocky holding leads over the other 11 candidates competing for the five seats up for election.

Five other candidates ? incumbents Pierce and Dean, labor leader Michael Allen, Olivares and restaurant owner Don Taylor ? were jockeying for the last available seat, according to those tracking polls.

?That seat has been much iffier. It?s been bouncing back and forth,? said Bender.

Wysocky said he was ?honored? by his apparent election and a bit taken aback despite polls that had him tracking well with voters.

?I don?t put much stock in polls,? he said, citing an admonition he gave to his players when he use to help coach basketball at Piner High School.

?I told my kids you play until you hear the buzzer. My work and that of my volunteers paid off,? he said.

Olivares, whose polls last week showed him running fifth in the race for the four, four-year seats up for election, called his preliminary third-place results ?exciting stuff.?

?It was looking real tight to stay within the top four, but with so many candidates we knew it would be a very, very tight race. It?s been exhausting work this past week,? he said.

Olivares was part of The Team, a group of five candidates that included Sawyer, Bender, Dean and Hoff who ran as a formal slate for the first time in city history.

A fifth seat also unexpectedly came up for election when Blanchard died in June following a three-year battle with cancer.

Sawyer, Wysocky, Olivares and Vas Dupre had clear leads over the 11 candidates seeking election to the four, four-year terms on the ballot ? positions currently held by Bender, Sawyer, Pierce and Dean.

Coming in third and fourth behind Wysocky and Sawyer were Olivares with 22,990, or 12.5 percent and Vas Dupre with 20,608, or 11.2 percent. Pierce ran a distant fifth with 19,266, or 10.5 percent.

By midnight, Bender had built up a sizable lead of 23,042, 45.7 percent, over runner-up Judy Kennedy, a Burbank Gardens neighborhood leader, who had 10,719 votes, or 21.3 percent.

Bender, citing the private polls and a national economy on the brink of recession, said the potential change in the council majority won?t come as much of a surprise.

?There was a mentality of change at the national level,? Bender said, a feeling she said trickled down to the local level. ?I noticed a lot of local campaign slogans were about change.?