Gorin, Sawyer face off in forum
WHILE CLAUDIA MENDOZA-CARRUTH translated the questions, candidates John Sawyer, left and Susan Gorin awaited their respective turns.
In what was probably a first, 1st District Supervisoral candidates Susan Gorin and John Sawyer squared off in a bilingual forum Sunday afternoon.
In front of an audience of more than 75 people at the Sonoma Charter School, Gorin and Sawyer answered five questions from five community members that the candidates had received in advance. But that didn’t preclude them from taking verbal shots at each other.
The questions and the candidates’ answers were translated into Spanish.
One of the questions was about the Highway 12 project that has been on hold ever since the state’s redevelopment agencies were dissolved the first of February, following a late December state Supreme Court decision.
Both Sawyer and Gorin promised that the project topped the list of things they would fight for if elected.
Sawyer said there is a chance that some of the money that used to flow to the redevelopment agency will end up in the county’s General Fund.
“The Highway 12 project is the poster child for redevelopment,” Sawyer said. “I’ll try to convince the supervisors to move money from the General Fund to finish the project.”
He said that the state hasn’t given the county a clear understanding of what will happen.
Gorin said that while she has been on the Santa Rosa City Council, she has found ways to aggregate money for projects.
“This is a top priority for either one of us,” she said. “But I have the experience and knowledge to move this through.”
Gorin said she’s talked with area legislators, including Assemblymember Michael Allen, state Sen. Lois Wolk and state Sen. Noreen Evans to work on funding.
“I don’t have faith in the state to work this out,” Gorin said. “But I have experience working with state legislators.”
The pair parried on a bike bridge in Santa Rose over Highway 101, with Sawyer saying he would look to see if some of the money could go to the Highway 12 project, but Gorin said it was a city project and that the funds couldn’t easily be redirected to the Springs.
They were also asked how to balance open space with vineyard development.
Gorin said as mayor of Santa Rosa, she put an urban growth boundary measure on the ballot.
“We have to balance development with our resources,” she said. “What we approve will stay for a long time.
And Gorin pointed out that she has been endorsed by two major environmental organizations.
Sawyer, too, said the environment is important.
“It generates $1.35 billion spent in Sonoma County,” he said. “And $87 million of that goes to the county and state.”
He said the county’s General Plan spells out where vineyards can be. And he added that agricultural spaces act as community separators.
“I’m not in favor of General Plan amendments,” he said. “People should have input at every step along the way.”
The candidates also answered questions about the county’s economy and unemployment, the immigration-related “Trust Act” and whether the county should do anything about the rash of home foreclosures because of delinquent property taxes.
Claudia Mendoza-Carruth was the moderator and translator while questions were asked by Kevin Carruth, Jack Ding, Kara Reyes, the Rev. Ted Virts and two Sonoma Valley High School students, Esther Oros and Anahi Hernandez.