Of the six candidates pursuing three seats on the Cotati City Council on Nov. 8, one challenger would be a particularly appealing option in many communities. Eris Weaver is a professional facilitator, trained in mediating groups that aren’t working together very well.
In prior years, that might have described the Cotati City Council. But not anymore.
As with other Sonoma County cities, Cotati has fought through some trying times and is starting to see progress. With the help of voters who approved Measure G, a 1-cent sales tax to help keep the city afloat, the city has come up with the funds to not just keep its police department in operation but add a police officer. In addition, Cotati has been able to add a public works employee and to kick-start its recreation program. The city also found the funds to make needed improvements on Old Redwood Highway between Highway 116 and La Plaza Park and make other changes, including approving a 74-unit apartment complex to be built near the new East Cotati Avenue SMART station. The complex will include 14 affordable housing units.
The city has done all of this with a City Council that, while not always in agreement, puts a premium on collaboration and compromise. For this and other reasons, we see little reason for change. We support the re-election of incumbents Susan Harvey, Wendy Skillman and John Dell’Osso.
A 38-year resident of Cotati, Harvey, 60, was elected in 2009 as part of the recall that ousted George Barich, another candidate in this race. A former information technology manager, Harvey was re-elected in 2012 and has earned a reputation for financial acuity and knowledge of the city budget. “I’m really proud of us as a community that were able (to see Measure G approved) and to take care of ourselves,” she said.
Skillman, 48, is a former deputy district attorney in Mendocino and Sonoma counties who now works in private practice at a Santa Rosa firm. She was elected in 2012 after serving three years on the Community and Environment Commission. She says she desires to continue working to preserve Cotati’s small-town feel, encourage affordable housing and spur economic development by looking for ways to streamline the community’s permitting process to help businesses.
Dell’Osso is the senior member of the council, having served from 1994 to 1998 and then winning a seat again in 2012. A resident of Cotati since 1986 and a longtime community volunteer, Dell’Osso also is respected for his knowledge and leadership on environmental issues given his more than 30 years of work for the National Park Service. He is currently the public information officer for Point Reyes National Seashore. He is a strong advocate for recreation programs for kids in town as well as sustainable building practices.
The other candidates include Weaver, 57, a member of the city’s Design Review Committee, and Jason Goebel, 42, a local contractor and downtown resident. Both are longtime residents who offer deep knowledge of the city and a passion for community service. But neither come with the qualifications that would warrant turning out one of the incumbents.
The sixth candidate is Barich, 58, who is a divisive force in the community, often attending meetings to attack council members for what he regards as “waste, fraud and incompetence.” But he’s far better at providing enmity than evidence. Given his historic emphasis on criticism rather than constructive problem-solving, we believe he would be a poor representative for the city.