Mostly clear

Santa Rosa City Council picks Robin Swinth to replace Susan Gorin

  • City council candidate Robin Swinth listens as other candidates address the Santa Rosa City Council on January 28, 2013. (Photo by Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

The Santa Rosa City Council on Monday night selected Robin Swinth, a member of the city's powerful Board of Public Utilities and a former Agilent Technologies engineer, to fill the remaining two years of Susan Gorin's council term.

"She did her homework," Mayor Scott Bartley said of Swinth's presentation earlier in the day to the council. "I think she'll do an excellent job."

The selection capped a controversial three-week-long application process that some criticized as rushed and secretive. The council spent nearly seven hours during a special hearing Monday afternoon and evening interviewing the 17 applicants for the post.

Council members toyed with the idea of inviting finalists back today for further interviews. But almost as soon as preliminary voting began it was clear Swinth was the favorite.

In the first round of voting, which was meant to narrow the field, she received six votes, more than any other applicant. In that same round, Caroline Banuelos received three votes, while Don Taylor, David Rosas, Curtis Byrd, Gary Saal and George Stepphensen each received two.

As the voting continued, no other candidate could muster more than two votes, and Swinth won the deciding vote unanimously.

Swinth, 45, served with Bartley on the Planning Commission and currently serves on the Board of Public Utilities, which oversees the city's water and wastewater systems and sets rates.

She is a native Santa Rosan who lives in Bennett Valley. She has two daughters, ages 8 and 9, and is active in their school, she said. She and her husband own a small business, Access Ingenuity, that helps disabled people return to work.

During her interview with the council, she emphasized the need for predictability in the planning and development process, her appreciation for sacrifices public employees have made during the recession and her work to keep water rate increases to a minimum.

Swinth stressed her 14 years of work for Agilent Technologies as an electrical engineer and manager, which she said gives her "analytic and problem-solving skills" that will be benefit the city. She also cited her four years on the Planning Commission and five years on the Board of Public Utilities as proof of her public service.

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