Supervisor Shirlee Zane officially launches reelection campaign

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Supervisor Shirlee Zane launched her reelection campaign Thursday night at Kendall-Jackson Winery, touting her past accomplishments and telling a crowd of about 50 supporters why she believes she’s the best candidate for the job.

In a brief speech delivered standing on a table in the corner of the tasting room, Zane outlined her priorities as supervisor: fire recovery, support for senior citizens, housing for veterans and expanded mental health services.

At the end of her speech, Zane summed up her reason for running for the fourth time for the seat: “There’s a lot more to do.”

Absent from her speech was any mention of her opponent, Chris Coursey, the former Santa Rosa mayor. He announced Wednesday he’s running against Zane, who has received endorsements from Sonoma County Rep. Mike Thompson and Santa Rosa Mayor Tom Schwedhelm.

Asked about Coursey after the speech, Zane kept her message positive, focusing on her own accomplishments rather than attacking her opponent.

“I have experience in county government, and experience matters,” she said. “I think now more than ever, we need the type of advocacy that I bring to this county for our vulnerable populations.”

Zane said increasing mental health services is one of her main priorities.

“The jails have become our new psych hospitals,” she said. “It’s not a great place to provide mental health services, but it has become the default place.”

Zane said she is taking a two-pronged approach to increasing mental health services: pressuring hospitals to provide more beds for mental health patients and finishing construction of a mental health wing for inmates at the county jail.

Several notable supporters, including Thompson and Schwedhelm, attended Thursday’s campaign kickoff.

Thompson gave a short speech before Zane spoke to the crowd. He praised Zane for her advocacy on behalf of fire survivors, homeless veterans and people suffering from mental health disorders.

“Endorsing Shirlee was a no-brainer,” Thompson told the group.

Asked about Coursey entering the race, Thompson said he believes Zane’s experience in county government makes her the best candidate for the seat.

“I know Chris. I know him well. He’s a good man, he did a good job,” he said. “(But) I think she’s doing a great job, and I don’t see a reason to change horses midstream.”

Schwedhelm endorsed Zane before Coursey entered the race.

On Thursday, he said he’s not changing his endorsement.

“I had a conversation with Chris, and I told him I already told Shirlee I’m endorsing her,” he said.

Schwedhelm, like Zane, avoided criticizing Coursey, focusing on praising Zane as the best candidate for the position.

“I’m not going to compare the two,” he said. “She’s a tireless worker and she knows how to get stuff done … It’ll be an interesting contest, but Shirlee clearly has demonstrated her ability to do the job.”

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