A key filing deadline looms for this year’s Santa Rosa City Council race, and the prospect grows by the day that none of the three incumbents will seek re-election.
Vice Mayor Robin Swinth and Councilman Jake Ours already have said they’re not running for second terms on the seven-member council.
Now Mayor Scott Bartley’s re-election plans appear to be up in the air.
Bartley, who several months ago said he planned to run for another term, on Friday was noncommittal. He said he had been “hanging back” from any campaign activities as he focused intensely on the hiring of a new city manager.
The City Council last week announced that it had unanimously chosen to offer the job to Sean McGlynn, the deputy city manager of El Paso, Texas. It’s set to vote on his contract Tuesday.
“Once the city manager process is locked down, I will take a deep breath and move on to other issues,” Bartley said.
Like all incumbents, Bartley has until 5 p.m. Friday to file his campaign nomination papers. These include a form signed by 20 registered voters, as well as other campaign-related documents.
Bartley has yet to pick up the packet of paperwork he would need to file to run again, City Clerk Terri Griffin said. She noted, however, that she has seen incumbents “pull papers,” as it is known, and file the necessary forms on the final day of the nomination period.
While it would be unusual for a sitting mayor not to seek re-election, some political observers said it wouldn’t surprise them if Bartley bowed out. The end of his current term would mark his 20th year on city boards. He served 10 years on the Design Review Board, six on the Planning Commission and four on the council, the last two as mayor.
The past year also has been a tumultuous one, marred by council infighting, criticism of city leaders in the wake of the Andy Lopez shooting, and the public investigation and contentious censure of Bartley’s council rival, Gary Wysocky.
If just one incumbent does not meet the Friday filing deadline, the deadline for other candidates will be extended until Aug. 13, Griffin said.
If Bartley decides not to run again, then the field for the three seats open this election would drop to six candidates: Planning Commissioner Curtis Byrd, former Press Democrat columnist Chris Coursey, Planning Commissioner Ashe Crocker, former Councilman Lee Pierce, former Councilman John Sawyer and former Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm.
Of those, Coursey has raised the most money to date. He’s pulled in $39,667 so far, more than twice the haul of his nearest rival. Much of that was raised last year, but Coursey added another $11,781 to his campaign coffers during the first six months of this year.
Contributions to his campaign include $500 from the Northern California Carpenters Regional union; $500 from Santa Rosa artist Mario Uribe; $500 from Sebastopol Mayor Robert Jacob; and $200 from 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin.
Coursey noted that the vast majority of his donations have come from people giving him less than the $100 reporting threshold.
“I’m really happy to have a broad and deep group of contributions from across the community,” Coursey said.
Planning Commissioner Curtis Byrd has raised the next highest amount in the race so far, $19,252.
Like Coursey, Byrd has benefited from a fundraising effort that began early. Byrd added another $12,584 to his war chest this year. He said he’s running a “true grass-roots campaign” with lots of volunteers and is focused on keeping costs down.
“We’re in great shape,” Byrd said. “We’re just trying to raise enough money to run an effective campaign, and we’re on track to do that.”
Donations include $500 from the North Bay Labor Council; $500 from Guy Conner, husband of the late former state Sen. Pat Wiggins; $300 from former U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey; and $200 from businesswoman Connie Codding.
Lee Pierce also is coming on strong, raising $16,362 in just three months. The former councilman said the pace of his fundraising shows the wide community support his campaign has received.
Two-thirds of the money he’s received, however, has come from himself, in the form of $6,050 in loans, and from his employer, Global Materials Recovery Services, and people associated with the recycling firm and related companies. At least 10 different owners, executives and family members of the group of companies have given Pierce the maximum $500 donation, for a total of $5,000.
Pierce said he’s not surprised that the company he’s been with for four years has strongly backed him. He said he’s also not worried about going $14,542 into debt so far, noting that his campaign is now well set up with a website and necessary campaign materials.
“We plan to run a very successful and strong campaign, and that takes infrastructure,” Pierce said. “I’m going to run a tough campaign.”
The only other candidate to file a campaign statement for the current period is Schwedhelm, who raised $1,404 to date. The total is so low because his campaign hasn’t gotten started yet, said campaign manager Herb Williams.
Contributions included $250 from former Santa Rosa Mayor Sharon Wright, $250 from former Sheriff Mark Ihde, and $100 from private investigator Michael Hardin.
Sawyer said he didn’t file a statement because he hasn’t raised $1,000 yet, the threshold that triggers the filing requirement. Bartley said he hasn’t raised any additional funds. And Crocker announced her campaign just two weeks ago.
You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @citybeater.