The race for Santa Rosa City Council is about to get a little gender diversity.

Planning Commissioner Ashle Crocker announced Thursday that she’s running for one of three City Council seats up for grabs this fall.

The land-use attorney who grew up in Santa Rosa is the first woman to enter the race, joining a field of six men who have announced campaigns to date.

“Looking at the field, given that 52 percent of the population are women, I felt they didn’t really have a voice in the pool of candidates at this time,” Crocker said.

If elected, Crocker, 43, also would become the first council member to publicly identify as lesbian. Crocker is married to attorney Kinna Crocker, and they have 6-year-old twin daughters.

While she doesn’t expect her sexual orientation to be a focus of her campaign, if elected she would actively listen to the concerns of the gay community, she said.

Crocker works for the Thomas Law Group, a small Sacramento-based land-use firm. She was appointed to the Planning Commission in March by Councilwoman Erin Carlstrom. Her political consultant is Carlstrom’s husband, Nick Caston.

Crocker also serves on the city’s Open Government Task Force, where she has worked on the effort to draft a sunshine ordinance for Santa Rosa. The work has convinced her that the city needs “a real focus on transparency,” and is a big part of why she’s running, she said.

“I’d like to be a part of implementing that change,” she said.

As an attorney focusing on environmental law, she often works to bring diverse interest groups together, and she expects those skills would serve her well as a councilwoman, Crocker said.

She serves on the advisory board for the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County and helped the group through the permitting process for its new location.

Voters are fed up with the discord on the council and want to see council members working together, Crocker said.

“We need to get away from the finger-pointing and back to doing business,” Crocker said.

The initial filing deadline for nominations for City Council is Aug. 8.

Other candidates in the race to date include Mayor Scott Bartley, who is running to retain his current seat; Planning Commissioner Curtis Byrd; former Press Democrat columnist Chris Coursey; former Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm; former Councilmen John Sawyer and Lee Pierce; and former council candidate Chuck Simms.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or On Twitter @citybeater.