Santa Rosa won't identify council applicants, for now

Santa Rosa is keeping secret the names and application information about people seeking appointment to the City Council until after the application deadline passes.

The council's goal for the policy it adopted Tuesday is to preserve the integrity of the process and to encourage as large and diverse a group of applicants as possible, Mayor Scott Bartley said.

"My goal would be to get as many people to apply as possible," Bartley said.

The Press Democrat on Thursday filed a California Public Records Act request seeking the names of those who have picked up application packages, as well as copies of any completed applications filed today.

"There is a lot at stake given the balance of power on the City Council, and the selection process should be transparent," Executive Editor Catherine Barnett said. "The public is paying attention to this appointment and should know as much as possible as soon as possible about who wants to serve."

The application period opened last week and closes at the end of business Tuesday. Who may seek the appointment is a matter of intense speculation, given the influence the appointee could hold over the direction of the council.

But the city has opted for a process that is less open than the one governing local elections.

State election law requires the city clerk to keep track of and make public the names of people who have "pulled papers," meaning they have picked up nomination forms and other documents from the city clerk.

Once those documents are returned and filed with the clerk, they are immediately made public, giving residents, the media and other candidates a clear sense of how the field of candidates is shaping up.

The sole exception to that disclosure requirement is the candidate statement that is to be printed on the sample ballot. That statement of up to 200 words remains confidential until the filing deadline passes, City Clerk Terri Griffin said.

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