Eric Ziedrich, who has “retired” twice from the Healdsburg City Council, just can’t seem to stay away.
The former mayor, who served two four-year terms on the council, with the last ending in 2010, announced he is running for one of the two open seats on the November ballot.
Ziedrich said even though it’s been four years since he last served, he’s been paying attention to the issues facing Healdsburg and the county.
“I have a lot to offer. I have a lot of strong experience in areas I think are critically important now, especially with the very slow (economic) recovery, said Ziedrich, who touts his “strong, financial-business background.”
Ziedrich, 58, is the owner, president and chief executive of Healdsburg Lumber Co., which he founded 29 years ago. He also is vice president of North Coast Builders Exchange, which helps provide training, education and group insurance for contractors and subcontractors.
Periodically, the businessman with name recognition has made noises about running again for council, but this time he said it’s for certain.
He is one of three other declared candidates running for the seats being vacated by incumbents Susan Jones and Jim Wood, both of whom have decided not to seek re-election. Wood is running instead for State Assembly.
The others vying for a City Council seat are Jeff Civian, a planning commissioner and retired civil engineer; Brigette Mansell, a high school English teacher; and Tim Meinken, a winery owner and former pension and benefits consultant. Planning Commissioner Mark Zimmerman withdrew from the race last week.
Ziedrich’s first term on the City Council was from 1996 to 2000 before being re-elected six years later. He also served on the Planning Commission and the high school and hospital boards.
Ziedrich offers an explanation for his pattern of serving nonconsecutive council terms:
“I take public service very seriously and put a lot into it. That probably explains why, after one term, I’m ready for a recess. I’ve done that twice now.”
“It’s healthy to step away from office and get a fresh perspective instead of re-upping and re-running,” he added.
He said there needs to be greater vigilance on budget matters and more done to cut pension costs, although “budgets aren’t sexy and they don’t draw people into council chambers.”
Ziedrich perceives “overconfidence or complacency,” on the part of elected officials and city staff when it comes to finances and asserted that they are “reverting back to bad habits, overspending and drawing on reserves and most importantly not fixing some serious problems.”
In particular, he cited the council’s recent decision to add more positions to the city workforce.
Mayor Jim Wood said during recent budget hearings that the city was in a relatively strong position with its reserves. And he observed that projected deficits at the beginning of the fiscal year typically have not materialized, allowing the city to avoid tapping reserves.
“I think we’ve done quite a bit. There’s more work to do,” City Councilman Gary Plass said of the criticism that the council hasn’t done enough to address the structural deficit. “We didn’t get into this overnight and we won’t get out overnight.”
During his most recent term, Ziedrich, more than other council members, had to remove himself from some issues to avoid a potential conflict. That included the lengthy series of hearings on the Saggio Hills luxury hotel and residential development. He recused himself because he previously had explored marketing his company’s sales and service to the Saggio developers.