The new Santa Rosa City Council tackles its first agenda on Tuesday, and freshly minted Mayor Ernesto Olivares already is signaling that the new council majority intends to quickly get down to the business of being business-friendly.
First in his acceptance speech on Tuesday and again in an interview Thursday, Olivares indicated he intends to make changes that reflect the realignment of council priorities that voters put in motion Nov. 2.
"It is clear to me that the voters have made a resounding statement," Olivares said Tuesday. "They are ready for community reconciliation and a new direction for our city that focuses on the quality of life of every member of our community."
The top quality of life issue facing Santa Rosa is high unemployment, Olivares said, so job creation through recruitment of new businesses to Santa Rosa will be a top priority.
Olivares said he is working quickly to form something akin to an economic task force that will have a "strong, highly visible focus on economic growth."
"It's not a session for debate; it's to get things done," Olivares said.
Recruitment of new businesses will be a key goal of the task force, as will making regular reports to the council about job-creation efforts, he said.
Beyond the benefits of job creation, Olivares said economic development is a regional responsibility Santa Rosa bears because of its size. That's what he means when he says the city needs to "wear the big boy pants," he said.
"We are the fifth largest city in the Bay Area and with that comes a responsibility to be a leader and an innovator as a city council, as a community and as the regional center we have become," he said.
The city "must serve as a key partner and leader in our regional economic recovery," he added.
Whether it's streamlining the permit process or something as simple as cleaning up garbage to make the city more a attractive location, Olivares said the council needs to find ways to push back against the perception that the city is not friendly to business.
But former Mayor Susan Gorin, who got the most votes Nov. 2, doesn't think Olivares ought to be using phrases like "resounding" to refer to the election results.
"I think it's very important for the community to know that I don't see this election as an overwhelming mandate for change," Gorin said.
While Veronica Jacobi failed to win re-election, finishing in fourth place, she and her ally Gorin combined got about 3,700 more votes than Scott Bartley and Jake Ours, who were business-oriented newcomers elected to the council.
Councilman Gary Wysocky said he's not sure what to take away from Olivares comments about a change in direction, but wonders what might have to give in a shift to a so-called more business-friendly council.
"I hope he wants to continue the tradition of involving the neighborhoods in decisions that affect them," said Wysocky, an advocate for neighborhood groups and the cycling community.
Two issues on Tuesday's agenda could provide a litmus test for the mettle of the new council majority:
-- Will there be an effort to significantly scale back the controversial Humboldt Street bicycle boulevard plan?