Chris Coursey announces candidacy for Santa Rosa City Council seat

Former Press Democrat columnist and SMART rail spokesman Chris Coursey announced Wednesday he's running for Santa Rosa City Council.

The public relations consultant said that after years of reporting and commenting on issues affecting the city, he now wants to take a direct role in finding solutions.

"I'm reporting for civic duty," Coursey said. "I want to be involved in my community in a way that can effect change."

The election isn't until November 2014, but Coursey said he thought it wise to get an early start to his first campaign for public office.

Coursey is the first candidate to announce a campaign for one of three seats up for grabs on the seven-member council. Incumbents Robin Swinth, Jake Ours and Scott Bartley, Santa Rosa's mayor, have not announced whether they plan to seek re-election.

Coursey, 58, worked for The Press Democrat for 27 years, from 1980 to 2007, when he took a position as community outreach manager for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District.

He left that job in 2011 to become a freelance writer and public relations consultant, returning to Pressdemocrat.com as a blogger. He gave up that position recently in preparation for his council run, he said.

He first gave public service serious thought last year when a vacancy was created by Susan Gorin's election to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, he said. Someone suggested he run for her seat, but he decided the time wasn't right.

The idea came up again earlier this summer and, after speaking to politicians such as Gorin and City Councilwoman Julie Combs and campaign consultants including Terry Price and Herb Williams, he decided he was ready, he said.

His campaign consultant is Stephen Gale, the head of the Sonoma County Democratic Party and chairman of the city's Public Utilities Commission.

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