Rohnert Park’s two incumbent City Council members said Monday they intend to run for re-election this November.
Amy Ahanotu and Pam Stafford both touted their fiscal management in helping the city emerge from a crippling deficit, and said they wanted to help guide new development to completion in the next four years.
So far, no one has stepped forward to challenge one of the two seats, leaving open the possibility of the City Council election being canceled for just the second time in Rohnert Park’s 52-year history. Potential candidates have until Aug. 8 to file nomination papers with the city clerk.
Ahanotu, 56, the Rohnert Park branch manager of Redwood Credit Union, said he has brought sound business judgment to the council since his election in 2010.
“The highlights for me are a balanced budget, business friendliness in Rohnert Park and a customer friendly environment at City Hall,” said the former planning commissioner and chair of the Rohnert Park Chamber of Commerce. “What I have pushed for is more of a business climate for public service.”
Rohnert Park last month passed its first balanced budget after 10 years of operating in the red. City leaders say they have been able to work through the financial crisis with a combination of belt-tightening measures and initiatives to attract new businesses. In recent years, the city has trimmed staff and tackled rising public pension costs. It also has streamlined the permit process for new businesses that create local jobs and bolster the tax base.
“The most important thing we’ve done is balance the budget,” said Stafford, 65, an aerobics instructor with the Rohnert Park recreation department. “That’s been a huge accomplishment for the whole council. It’s been a team effort to get to this place.”
Stafford, elected to the council in 2006, said she would like another four years on the council to help lead the city through the development of its downtown area and housing projects that will add the first new homes to the city in 20 years. She also said she wants to continue the climb back to financial health.
“I would really like to see us get stronger with the progress we made on the budget,” said Stafford, the mother of three grown children. “I would like to see the city get in a more stable place.”
Ahanotu, who has raised two children during his 28 years in Rohnert Park, said, if given another term by voters on Nov. 4, he would like to focus on making the city’s parks better. He also would like to work on Rohnert Park’s long-term fiscal issues, including continuing to tackle public employee health care and pension costs.
“If you look at our parks, they still need some work,” he said. “We need to continue to address long-term expenses and unfunded liabilities.”
JoAnne Buergler, Rohnert Park’s city clerk, said that 2012 was the only time the city has canceled a City Council election. All three incumbents were reappointed to their seats that year. She said the city saves about $40,000 by not holding an election.
“You save a tremendous amount of money when you don’t have an election,” she said. “That’s the only reason to cancel it.”
Buergler said she expects other candidates to come forward this year. Candidates must fill out a packet of paperwork and submit 20 valid signatures from Rohnert Park voters.