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Sebastopol council election focused on CVS project

  • 05/07/2010: C6:
    PC: The Pellini Chevrolet building on Highway 12 in Sebastopol. empty since the car dealership closed it's doors at the end of 2008, may have a new tennant, CVS Pharmacy, in the future. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2010

The political landscape in Sebastopol has more fractures than the San Andreas Fault.

SmartMeters, cellphone towers, leaf blowers, a proposed sales tax increase and water and sewer rate hikes all have their detractors and have ebbed and flowed as issues over the past few years.

But in the election to fill two City Council seats, the defining issue is the CVS Pharmacy-Chase bank branch project at Highway 12 and Petaluma Avenue, one of the city's most prominent and busiest intersections.

Even though the project was approved by the City Council after two years and long and often contentious debate, opposition groups are clinging to the hope that a new council with a different bent might yet force the developers to walk away.

"It is a little troubling the CVS project has dominated the campaign so far," said Mayor Guy Wilson, who is not seeking re-election. "There is so much more that will go on over the next four years than rehashing CVS."

The other open seat is held by Councilwoman Kathleen Shaffer, who is seeking re-election.

Wilson and Shaffer were two of the three council members who approved the project 3-2 on Aug. 22.

There are four other candidates in the race for the two seats: Architect Kathy Austin, a former mayor; John Eder, a designer of emergency response vehicles; Colleen Fernald, an artist and sustainability consultant; and Robert Jacob, founder and director of a medical marijuana dispensary.

Shaffer, 65, and her husband were owners of a Florida company that made field equipment for Major League Baseball.

Shaffer is finishing her first term on the council in which her focus has been on the city's economy, particularly working to establish a business entrepreneur program to nurture new and existing small businesses.

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