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Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin announces 2020 run for third term

Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin, who has held local public office for over two decades, is running for a third term next year on the board overseeing county government. And she wouldn’t say whether that would be her last hurrah.

“You never say never,” said Gorin, 66, who has served almost continuously in local government since winning a seat on the Santa Rosa school board in 1996, followed by several appointed posts and six years on the Santa Rosa City Council.

“I’ve been around for a while,” she said. “That makes me an experienced and effective public official.”

She has been a stalwart figure in local politics, serving as Santa Rosa’s mayor in the difficult wake of the economic recession and then catapulting into county office in 2012 after a tough runoff against fellow Santa Rosa City Council member John Sawyer.

She said she declared her re-election bid for the 1st District seat on the Board of Supervisors so early - nine months ahead of the December filing deadline for the primary - to send a message to potential challengers.

“I am going to be a competitive incumbent and you might think twice,” she said.

Gorin, a Sonoma County resident since 1982, said she would happily run unopposed - as Supervisors David Rabbitt and James Gore did last year - but will raise enough money, if needed, to compete in a contested race.

Sonoma City Councilman David Cook said Tuesday there is a “90 percent chance” he will run for the 1st District seat at the end of his second council term. The district takes southeast Santa Rosa, Sonoma Valley and the city of Sonoma.

“I’m doing my homework now,” he said. “I’d love to see somebody from Sonoma take that seat back.”

In her official announcement, Gorin said she had endorsements from state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, Sonoma Mayor Amy Harrington and Santa Rosa Mayor Tom Schwedhelm.

“I like Susan,” Harrington said, crediting the supervisor for county assistance in dealing with issues like homelessness in Sonoma Valley. “We need resources in the valley.”

Gorin also is “knee deep” in one of Sonoma Valley’s major issues, the future use of the nearly 1,000-acre former Sonoma Developmental Center, which closed in December. Gorin has sought to ensure the county and its open space and patient advocates have a leading say in what becomes of the state property.

On Tuesday Gorin said she is pursuing more endorsements and planning an initial fundraiser in June.

She was returning from a trip to Washington, D.C., for a National Association of Counties conference, noting she had met with aides to Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Kamala Harris to lobby for federal disaster funding.

Gorin, who is a grandmother, said she and her husband, Joe, had considered retirement that would preclude another political campaign for her. Joe retired after their Oakmont home was destroyed by the Nuns fire in 2017, but has since gone back to work part time; and Susan Gorin found herself immersed in fire recovery work.

Talk of retirement “went out the window,” she said.

She pointed to 85-year-old Feinstein, who was elected to her fifth full term in November. “Age is not a barrier to public service,” Gorin said. “We still have energy and enthusiasm.”

As a fire survivor, Gorin said she is personally familiar with issues like the gap between insurance payments and rebuilding costs, finding a contractor and obtaining permits.

“I felt like my voice was needed at the table,” she said, as local government deals with fire recovery and establishing an emergency response system.

Gorin cited the Sonoma Developmental Center’s future, dealing with flooding on Highway 37 and an upcoming county General Plan update as issues she intends to address as a supervisor.

Gorin’s political career began with her election to the Santa Rosa school board in 1996, serving until 2000, with subsequent appointments to the city Board of Public Utilities and Planning Commission. She spent six years on the Santa Rosa City Council before prevailing with 52 percent over Sawyer in the race for the open 1st District seat.

Gorin was re-elected in 2016, winning 53 percent of the June primary vote that was split among three candidates.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @guykovner.

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