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A survivor’s lost joy

EDITOR: It is painful to read so many stories of lives torched by the wildfires. Here is my small contribution:

As a child, I spent summers on my grandparents’ ranch in Kansas, where the wind was ever present, racing over the hills and through the tall grass prairie. Living briefly in Kansas during my freshman year in high school, I ran track and loved the challenge of running into the wind. In the many years since, I have always enjoyed windy days.

Now, a year after having lost our home to the firestorm of October 2017, the wind no longer carries joy. Rather it brings a bone-chilling, furtive anxiety that is post-traumatic stress disorder. The fires destroyed more than our homes. It has stripped us of some of life’s simple pleasures.

CAROLINE JUDY

Santa Rosa

Treatment of women

EDITOR: Oct. 5, 2018 will go down in history as the day that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to two people who heal abused women and who fight against sexual violence perpetrated on women (“Two who fight war rape get Nobel”).

On the same day, the U.S. Senate continued to destroy American democracy by ignoring the claims of such violence from three American women. The U.S. Supreme Court will now include a man of some questionable behavior.

When will we ever learn to believe, to trust, to no longer deny?

DIANE TOMCZAK

Windsor

Getting it right

EDITOR: The backers of Measure M to maintain and operate county and city parks have it right this time. Two years ago, a half-cent sales tax for only county parks lost by a slim margin. Measure M would cost only one-eighth of a penny in sales tax, and it would benefit both county and city parks in Sonoma County.

Measure M would raise $11.5 million annually to maintain our parks, keep them safe from wildfires and open some new facilities that residents have been waiting for. Usage in our aging parks is way up with population growth and tourism. Most other counties in the Bay Area have a dedicated funding source for parks. We do not.

There are 56 regional parks in the unincorporated county and dozens more within our cities, making our county an outdoor paradise for camping, hiking, fishing, team sports, coastal appreciation and much more. It’s one of the important reasons why we love and enjoy this special place.

We need to be excellent stewards of these public lands, and Measure M gives us a reasonable way of doing that.

MIKE REILLY

Forestville

Rebuilding to be ready

EDITOR: On reading the essay by Judy K. Sakaki (“From running for our lives to renewal,” Close to Home, Saturday), I am reminded as to how much our hearts go out to those who lost so much in the October 2017 fires in Sonoma County. But I wonder how much we have truly learned from nature’s lesson.

I am heartened that our local leaders have finally come to the realization that sirens might be a good idea after all. Old-fashioned, World War II, but effective technology that probably would have saved many lives, if not property.

On the other hand, I was stricken by the photograph that accompanied the Sakaki essay. The only surviving portions of the structure pictured were the foundation of concrete and the prominent beams and columns of steel.

There is a lesson there, and it suggests that rebuilding any dwelling or structure with the same flammable materials with which it was originally built is foolish at best. But from observation, that appears to be the predominant practice. It is heartening to note that some homeowners and builders are using steel joists (common in commercial buildings), steel and tile roofs and other fireproof materials.

It can happen again, as it has before.

CHARLES BAKER

Santa Rosa

Barrett for mayor

EDITOR: In our era of extreme — and counterproductive — partisanship, Teresa Barrett is singularly qualified to be Petaluma’s next mayor.

Beyond her long experience on Petaluma’s City Council and her savvy, down-to-earth approach to serving the entire community, it’s her personal integrity that makes her a standout in the upcoming elections.

Integrity is a matter of authenticity, honesty, fairness and reliability; Barrett embodies all four. Moreover, her acute intelligence does, in fact, make her the voice of reason that her campaign slogan ascribes.

For these reasons she has my vote for mayor of Petaluma in the upcoming election.

DONNA BRASSET-SHEARER

Petaluma

Direction for the sheriff

EDITOR: I was glad to see that Sonoma County’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach came out with a strong set of recommendations for the Sheriff’s Office (“Report faults sheriff on inquiries,” Thursday).

We know that communities that have clear policies about use of force have less violence. It’s common sense that a deputy’s record of discipline would be maintained on file for future reference in case of patterns of bias.

We would all like to live in a community where people of all races and ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations feel safe and treated with justice.

Listening and incorporating this feedback is an important step toward those goals.

CYNTHIA DICKINSON

Sebastopol

You can send a letter to the editor at letters@pressdemocrat.com

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