The political chasm separating Susan Gorin and John Sawyer, who are campaigning to become the next member of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors from the 1st District, runs wide and deep.
The two Santa Rosa council members have been skirmishing for years over municipal issues and now are taking their disparate views on the role of local government to the voters of a district that extends from the east side of Santa Rosa through Sonoma Valley to San Pablo Bay. The election is Nov. 6.
Though their differences are well established, Gorin, 60, and Sawyer, 57, agree on some key issues, including support for county spending on initiatives to spur job creation and recruit and retain local businesses.
Both say they support the county's move to become a residential and commercial power supplier, though they have concerns about customer rates.
Both candidates also have recommended boosted spending to repair county roads.
Sawyer has proposed a short-term countywide sales tax measure to address the current repair backlog, estimated at $100 million annually.
Gorin has said that a tax measure may be needed but hasn't backed any concept. She gave Sawyer's plan little chance for success at the ballot box, noting that it would rely largely on city-fueled tax receipts to pay for county roads. Such a funding mechanism could be a long-shot with city leaders, she said.
Sawyer said his plan would offer benefits for transit, bicycle and pedestrian and park infrastructure.
"I believe people have shown their willingness to step up to the plate when there's a greater good at stake," he said.
Both Sawyer and Gorin say they would look for funding within the county budget before advancing a tax proposal.
Gorin has said those funds may have to be found through cuts to other services. Which those would be, she doesn't yet know.
"I'm saying let's make road maintenance a priority. I'm saying let's make fiscal choices," she said.
Sawyer, instead, has suggested that money could be found in what he called "hidden funds" in the county's $1.3 billion budget. Such sources, if they exist, could be tapped without diminishing current services, he said.
"I think everyone can find efficiencies," he said.
A series of county audits are underway to determine if any such surplus funds exist.
<b>The Springs project</b>
Gorin said her top priority for the 1st District would be seeking a way to continue with the Highway 12 street and sidewalk upgrades in an area north of Sonoma known as The Springs.
The county's attempt to retain $9.5 million in redevelopment funds to complete the project has been rejected three times by state finance officials since Gov. Jerry Brown dissolved 400 local redevelopment agencies on Feb. 1 to use the money to close the state budget gap.
Gorin said she would look to continue the Highway 12 project with grant funds and existing county money, without saying what sources she would tap.
Sawyer also supports completion of the project, but said certain elements might have to be dropped, without offering specifics.
<b>Pay and benefits</b>
Gorin has pledged to take what she called a "significant pay cut" and forgo a county pension. Supervisors are paid an annual salary of $134,000 and receive about $66,000 in benefits.
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