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Gorin, Ours, Bartley win Santa Rosa City Council seats


Santa Rosa Mayor Susan Gorin and two of the three candidates backed by the city's business interests won seats on the Santa Rosa City Council in Tuesday's election.

Gorin had 21.2 percent to lead all candidates, followed by Jake Ours with 17.3 percent and Scott Bartley, who had 16.8 percent.

Seven candidates were seeking three council seats, including those held by incumbents Gorin and council member Veronica Jacobi, who got 15.3 percent of the votes.

The current council majority, which Gorin and Jacobi are part of, <NO1><NO>gained power in 2008 with the backing of local labor and environmental groups.

Larry Haenel, a retired teacher who also sought a council seat, has views that put him in that camp. He got 14.9 percent of the vote Tuesday night.

Gorin on Tuesday said she felt "great" about her showing in the election night tally.

"I knew this was going to be a tough race because it's a challenging time in our community," she said. "I think what we are seeing nationally is a reaction against incumbents because of the dire economic conditions. I think that's playing out in Santa Rosa."

Bartley, an architect, said he would interpret his election and that of Ours as the public taking "corrective action" for the council.

"It's going to to be up to us to make sure we are going to follow through on that," Bartley said.

Bartley called any concerns that a new council majority would be bought and paid for by the city's business interests — a charge levied at previous majorities on Santa Rosa councils prior to the 2008 philosophical shift — "a pretty narrow and shallow view what of our community is. I think once we are past the election the rhetoric on both sides needs to disappear."

Ours, the former chairman of the Santa Rosa Redevelopment Agency board of directors, said he would not foresee any problems working with Gorin or council members Gary Wysocky and Marsha Vas Dupre, who collectively make up the coalition backed by environmentalists.

"The whole thing is about the economy of the city and how we get ourselves out of the this hole," Ours said.

The business interests<NO><NO1> <NO><NO1>that supported Bartley and Ours accused the council majority of being blind to economic realities, citing the denial of the Lowe's Home Improvement store on Santa Rosa Avenue, the installation of parking pay stations downtown and the focus on projects such as the efforts to make Humboldt Street more bicycle-friendly as examples of their misplaced priorities.

<NO>Juan Hernandez, the third candidate on the slate backed by business groups, held 10.7 percent of the vote Tuesday.

Joanna Schaefer, a 27-year-old law school graduate, trailed the field with 3.6 percent of the vote.

Among the issues in the race were public pension costs, with Jacobi advocating capping employee pensions between $100,000 and $125,000.

<NO1>Santa Rosa's police and fire unions backed the business slate<NO><NO1>, with both groups contributing a combined $20,000 toward efforts to unseat Gorin and Jacobi.

The North Coast Builders' Exchange and the Alliance added<NO><NO1> $20,000 — money that went toward a wave of ads <NO><NO1>accusing Gorin and Jacobi <NO><NO1>of contributing to what they contend is the city's reputation as a bad place to do business<NO><NO1>.

In the money race, Jacobi had <NO><NO1>$47,000 on hand — more than any of the other candidates, <NO><NO1>resulting mostly <NO><NO1>from personal loans.

Gorin and Bartley were nearly tied<NO><NO1>, raising nearly $40,000 combined.

All told, the six active candidates for the council raised just over $185,000 for the race, with final numbers not available for several more weeks.

Despite the acrimony, several of the candidates said they could work with their fellow councilmembers no matter which side of the philosophical debate they fall on.

"I think I've got a fairly good track record of working with whoever you need to work with to get from point A to point B," Bartley said. "The only thing that infuriates me is when we can't get from one place to another."

Said Haenel: "Of course it's going to be difficult to bring businesses to Santa Rosa and create jobs, but we have to do everything we can to accomplish that goal."