|Cotati council adds new face; Measure U wins; Z falls short
Wiltermood claims seat on CRUSP Board of Trustees
The makeup of the Cotati City Council changed after the Nov. 6 election, but not much.
Incumbents John Dell’Osso and Mayor Susan Harvey were the top vote getters, and planning commissioner Wendy Skillman won a seat in her first run for office.
Dell’Osso (1,540) and Harvey (1,392) garnered 28.3 percent and 25.6 percent of the vote, respectively, while Skillman had 1,367 votes (25.1 percent). Former councilman George Barich had 18.7 percent of the ballots cast with 1,015 votes, while write-in candidate Alden Olmsted nabbed 128 votes (2.4 percent). Skillman claimed the seat vacated by Janet Orchard.
One of the most hotly contested and divisive ballot measures in Cotati’s history – Measure U, which banned roundabouts or traffic circles of any kind within city limits – was overwhelmingly approved 1,494 votes (57.6 percent) to 1,100 votes (42.4 percent).
Because this measure effectively ties the hands of the city council when it comes to road projects, there is a possibility the city will sue to have this measure overturned.
Measure Z, which would have imposed an annual $60 parcel tax for each household to help fund the Rancho Adobe Fire District – fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass 4,397 votes (62.6 percent) to 2,622 votes (37.4).
Rohnert Park community activist Jennifer Wiltermood was the leading vote getter in the race for two seats on the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District board of trustees with 6,701. This also was Wiltermood’s first political campaign, although she took a leading role in getting Measure D passed during a special election in June. Measure D imposes a parcel tax amounting to $89 per year on those living within the boundaries of the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District.
It will be in effect for five years and is expected to generate $5.3 million for local schools.
Ed Gilardi (6,076 votes, 26.0 percent) was the second-leading vote getter in the board race and will hold onto his seat. Wiltermood’s victory meant Karyn Pulley (4,793, 20.5 percent) was ousted from the school board. Michael Bowcut was third in the race with 5,727 votes (24.5 percent).
The Cotati council vote was somewhat predictable, as the city seems to have taken on an “anybody but Barich” attitude when it comes to elections. Harvey had a simpler explanation as to why the council makeup is what it is.
“I think the voters like the track we’re on and they’ve seen we’ve had a balanced budget the last three years,” Harvey said. “And the direction we’re taking the community in is something they approve of and they want to see more of it.”
Dell’Osso believes economic stability should be first and foremost on the agenda for the next council, even if the Downtown Specific Plan (including roundabouts) has drawn the most attention from Cotati residents over the past year.
“People may want to think the Downtown Specific Plan’s the most important issue, but it’s really the budget,” Dell’Osso said. “In looking at the budget over next couple of years…how stable are we? We’ve been relatively stable the past couple of years, but I think if you look five years down the road, and things don’t change, I think we could be in some trouble.”
Also, the northern portion of Old Redwood Highway in Cotati remains a blighted area that could use an economic jolt. Dell’Osso, Skillman and Harvey are all aware that part of the city needs attention.
“I think we’re going to have to work on economic development, and we’re going to have to get some of the empty storefronts filled,” Harvey said.
Said Dell’Osso, “We need to bring more economic vitality into that downtown area. And I think that’s only going to help us in the long term if we do.”
COTATI CITY COUNCIL
(top three on council)
John Dell'Osso 1,540 (28.3 percent)
Susan Harvey 1,392 (25.6)
Wendy Skillman 1,367 (25.1)
George Barich 1,015 (18.7)
Alden Olmsted (write-in) 128 (2.4)
UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
(top two on board)
Jennifer Wiltermood 6,701 (28.7)
Ed Gilardi 6,076 (26)
Michael Bowcut 5,727 (24.5)
Karyn Pulley 4,793 (20.5)
Write-in candidates, 46 (02)
(ban of roundabouts in Cotati)
Yes 1,494 (57.6)
No 1,100 (42.4)
(Rancho Adobe Fire District tax)
Yes 4,397 (62.6)
No 2,622 (37.4)