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After years of delays often attributed to political infighting, Petaluma has made significant progress in recent years in terms of economic development. What began with the long-awaited construction of the Regency Centers (Target) shopping center has continued with the building of the Deer Creek Village (Friedman’s) development and further progress in the Theatre District redevelopment area and on the Riverfront project.

Petaluma now faces the challenge of managing its growth — and the traffic that comes with it — while overseeing a city of diminished resources and growing infrastructure needs.

To do so, it needs a City Council that can demonstrate fiscal responsibility while finding the right balance between protecting the needs of neighborhoods and the interests of the business community. For that reason, we recommend the election of Dave King, Teresa Barrett and Chris Albertson on the City Council and the re-election of David Glass as mayor.

Among five candidates competing for three council seats, King, 57, has the most potential to provide fresh perspectives and potentially bridge existing factions on the council. A 23-year resident of Petaluma resident and long-time local attorney, King has been closely involved in the community through the Petaluma Youth Commission, the Chamber of Commerce and the Petaluma Peoples Services center. King is smart, even-keeled and has a reputation for working to build consensus on difficult issues, skills that would serve him and the city well on a council still known, at times, for acrimony.

Along with King, we recommend Barrett and Albertson, who despite often being on opposite ends of the ideology spectrum that now defines the City Council, represent important perspectives. Barrett, 66, who is seeking her third term , is a strong advocate for the neighborhoods . She’s a voice of caution for approval of any more large projects, noting that residents “are getting the traffic, but they are not getting the relief.” Frequently on the minority end of 5-2 votes, Barrett rightly notes, “there are some problems you just can’t build your way out of.”

Meanwhile, Albertson, 66, a retired Petaluma fire chief, is seeking his second term. A strong advocate for economic development, he has a no-nonsense approach , but he also has shown an ability to put the better interests of the community above any certain ideology. That said we remain concerned about his attachment to the idea that the future of Petaluma’s finances depend on the passage of Measure Q, a 1-cent sales tax increase that he voted to put on the Nov. 4 ballot. As noted in a previous editorial, we oppose Measure Q and believe there’s more the city should be doing to bring financial stability, including addressing its $35 million unfunded pension liability.

It is this issue that brings us to support the re-election of Glass as mayor. We have had our disagreements with Glass , particularly concerning his ability to become confrontational to those with whom he disagrees. At the same time, there’s no disputing his knowledge of municipal affairs and his devotion to the community. His background in finance, particularly bond financing, also will serve the city well in the coming days, particularly if Measure Q succeeds. But Glass rightly opposes Q, which ostensibly is a funding mechanism for constructing the long-awaited Rainer crosstown connector. Glass is right when he says “a blank check is not the answer.”

His opponent is longtime City Councilman Mike Harris, 43, who says he wants to do a better job of promoting the city, particularly for business development. Harris has been a strong advocate for economic growth and a central part of Petaluma’s majority on the council. But he has done little to distinguish himself as a leader on the council and fails to make a good argument for why he should replace the existing mayor. Furthermore, his belief that the answer to the city’s problems is to approve a full-cent sale tax increase that never expires fails to demonstrate the kind of fiscal responsibility the city needs.

The Press Democrat recommends Dave King, Teresa Barrett and Chris Albertson for City Council and the re-election of David Glass as mayor.