|New Cotati councilwoman ready to make her impact
Planning commissioner Wendy Skillman climbs city’s political ladder in short amount of time
Cotati Mayor Susan Harvey and Councilman John Dell’Osso welcomed Wendy Skillman to the Cotati City Council with open arms when it was learned she’ll replace the departing Janet Orchard on the council.
Skillman has been a resident of Cotati for only five years, but she’s had a quick ascension in the city’s rough-and-tumble political world. She currently serves on Cotati’s planning commission but will be giving up that position when she is sworn in as the next councilmember.
“It’s great to have someone like Wendy on board,” Dell’Osso said. “I think a fresh, different perspective is something that is always needed, and Wendy will have a different view. Let me say that Janet Orchard has done a tremendous, tremendous job for 12 years. But Wendy will have a different view, and that’s important.”
Skillman, 44, already has issues she’s anxious to tackle, such as increasing the amount of small businesses located in Cotati.
Streamlining the process
“I really want to help streamline the application process for people who are trying to get small businesses in here,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of empty storefronts that I’d like to see filled. I live over by Marvin’s restaurant, and that whole shopping complex is 90 percent empty. It would be great, especially with the Green Music Center opening, if we could get a small place people could stay if they’re here to see a show at the music center or if they have a kid at SSU. We’d like to have them stay here and spend some of their money in Cotati.”
Skillman makes her living as a prosecutor. She currently is not working for Sonoma County, but she helps her friend, who is the city attorney for the City of Sonoma. She fills in for her friend at courthouse appearances in Santa Rosa. Environmental law is her preference.
“The law is one of those few professions where you have to look at both sides of an issue and really be able to argue both sides,” she said. “I really enjoyed that. Environmental law really spoke to me because it’s protecting things for the long term.”
She attended college on the east coast before moving to Sacramento to work for a nonprofit. Five years ago, she decided to settle in Cotati for a couple of reasons.
“My mom and my stepdad live in Sebastopol, so I wanted to live close to them,” she said. “I have an adopted son whose 10, and it’s really nice to have family close by to help out. They actually take care of him a lot after school.”
She also lists the small-town feel of Cotati as one of the city’s major assets. She said she feels comfortable allowing her son to ride his bicycle to a friend’s house.
Jumping right in
When she got to Cotati five years ago, she immediately got involved in serving the community.
“When I first moved here, I signed up with the community environment commission, and they do the tree lighting and the pasta feed with chamber,” Skillman said. “That way I got to know a lot of people in the city who do a lot of work for the city, and I really enjoyed that.”