Jack Tibbetts to leave Santa Rosa City Council

In a speech in which he appeared to choke back tears, Jack Tibbetts said he felt unable to be a dedicated public servant and a dedicated father and husband at the same time.|

Councilman Jack Tibbetts announced Tuesday he will resign from Santa Rosa City Council effective Dec. 21.

His departure will leave the six remaining council members to decide how to seat a replacement who will represent a district that includes the eastern-most Santa Rosa hills and spans out as far as Oakmont.

In a short speech in which he appeared to choke back tears, Tibbetts said he felt unable to be a dedicated public servant and a dedicated father and husband at the same time.

“The public deserves 100%, but so does my wife and child,“ he said. Tibbetts, 31, and his wife, Ali, have a nine-month-old son.

Reelected to a second term in November 2020, Tibbetts’ current term ends Dec. 2024.

The council, during Tuesday’s meeting, did not discuss when and how it would fill Tibbetts’ seat. Such replacements can happen by appointment or a special election.

“I’m very sorry to leave you with the selection process ahead having been through it myself,” Tibbetts said.

In a brief interview, Mayor Chris Rogers said he would call for a Dec. 20 special meeting to discuss replacing Tibbetts.

The council could hold a special election in June but would have to decide during that meeting, the mayor said, citing research by the city attorney. The council could also appoint a resident of Tibbetts’ district to serve until a June or November election.

A five-year City Council veteran, Tibbetts comes from a politically involved family — his father, Nick Tibbetts, is a longtime Sonoma County political consultant.

A graduate of Montgomery High School, he was a student at UC Berkeley in 2013 when he became involved with a push to add a tax on oil extraction in California, campaign that led to legislation authored by then-state Sen. Noreen Evans. The tax was envisioned to support higher education funding, state parks and health and human services, but it did not advance in the Legislature.

Tibbetts won a council seat in 2016 at just 26 years old, which prompted some Sonoma County politicos to predict higher offices were likely in his future.

He remains the youngest person to be elected to Santa Rosa City Council.

Tibbetts is not considering seeking another elected office anytime soon, he said Tuesday, adding that if he chose to run again it would be once his son went to college. In a text message after this story initially published online, Tibbetts sought to clarify his answer.

“If I ever got motivated by an issue enough, mad enough, and got a blessing from my family, I’d jump in again,” he said.

Following his announcement, his fellow council members saluted Tibbetts’ consistent advocacy on housing issues, particularly the development of more housing for low-income families.

The council has “never had a more dedicated advocate on housing and homelessness,” Rogers said.

In a Facebook post announcing his resignation, Tibbetts expressed pride that he voted to advance every affordable housing project that came before the council.

Such building projects most often were considered by council following appeals by concerned neighbors or neighborhood groups.

Tibbetts serves as the executive director of the nonprofit St. Vincent De Paul for which he earns an annual salary of over $100,000, according to a financial disclosure form he filed with the city in March.

In February 2020 during Tibbetts’ first term, The Press Democrat compared his attendance record to that of other members of Santa Rosa City Council and found he had missed a high number of votes, often because of his work leading the nonprofit.

In order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, he has often recused himself from council votes on issues involving homelessness.

In his Facebook statement Tuesday, he described those recusals as one of the “biggest frustrations” of his time in office.

“I do hope the California Fair Political Practices Commission will one day reexamine its conflict of interest policies and lean more towards flexibility in a time of unrivaled transparency, brought about by the digital age,” he said.

He wrote with pride of St. Vincent De Paul’s growth in recent years, singling out the Los Guilicos Village project, a campus of tiny homes that serves as transitional housing.

Tibbetts said that though his family drove his decision to resign, the nonprofit’s growth and its increasing demands on his time also played a role.

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or andrew.graham@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @AndrewGraham88

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.