New Santa Rosa Council majority to flex its muscles

  • Ernesto Olivares, Council member for the City of Santa Rosa and Jason Williams, Flamingo Hotel food and Beverage Director at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Sonoma County's 21st Annual Scholarship Awards Gala on Saturday June 20, 2009, at the Doubletree Hotel in Rohnert Park.

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.

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