Laurie Gallian is running for her second term on the Sonoma City Council. During her first campaign, she and now-retiring mayor Joanne Sanders were the only candidates for two seats, so they were appointed by a vote of the council.
Gallian is a 31-year resident of Sonoma, she has been a small business consultant providing accounting, billing and payroll services to clients from Marin to Sacramento. Since 2000, she has been finance manager at the Sonoma Charter School. She is married to Ray Gallian, a former Sonoma Planning Commissioner, and has a son who is a lance corporal in the Marine Corps Reserve.
Gallian serves on the Sonoma County Water Advisory Board, the Sonoma County Transportation Authority Board and is a longtime member of Soroptimist International Sonoma Valley. In 2011, she served as mayor of Sonoma.
List the top three issues facing Sonoma and how you would address them:
Gallian: First, it’s budget and revenue. Stabilization needs to happen. We need to make sure the sales tax (Measure J) comes in at projections. And that TID, which uses a 2 percent TOT – will it raise revenue levels. We have to get to the point where we’re minimizing the loss of redevelopment funds, and that means we have to find out how we’re going to end up with the Department of Finance.
We have a plan in place that has been stayed – before we can make plans on capital projects, we have to know what cash we have on hand. By the end of this year we should know.
Second is resource management, land use policies, the Urban Growth Boundary, maintaining a sustainable community. We’re 12 years into a General Plan. How are we growing? What about affordable housing?
Third is due diligence, to staff and services provided by the city. That includes staff and pension costs. We hope we won’t have to cut staff in the next budget. We cannot deal with roads, renovations, etc. until we know if we have access to this money.
What leadership would you provide for building a community swimming pool?
Gallian: A feasibility study is in order. To answer, who constructs a pool, who maintains a pool? Should it be with the Springs, with the city? We need a feasibility study, then we need to review the study, where they recommend to put it, how to pay for it. I would love to see (the pool) on the lot behind Safeway and Sassarini School.
How should we finance street maintenance without the annual $850,000 redevelopment money we lost?
Gallian: Streets are not off the table yet, until I’m told that (redevelopment revenue) objective is no longer possible. On Oct. 15 we are due to get a redevelopment decision. Whatever that outcome, we still have to maintain a maintenance effort, we have to continue. Right now we have $250,000 allocated from the transportation authority, (but) whether we have money from our redevelopment bonds is will provide one important answer.
Do you agree with the ban on dogs in all city parks?
Gallian: Well, this is the issue we’ll be talking about on the Oct. 15 agenda, on Monday, so there’s not too much I can say about it here. But it’s important to know that we have, on this issue, the vetting of the Community Services and Environment Commission, the Planning Commission, plus there was a public forum with SVDOG, facilitated by people who actually have dogs. There are dogs all over the City of Sonoma. Walking precincts, I find a large number of dogs come to the door. Pets are a wonderful addition to people’s lives.
What steps would you take to stimulate business development?
Gallian: In last few months we’ve had several new developments. There is a new film permitting process – we want that to be friendly for them (filmmakers). We’d like to help the business employees learn more customer-friendly training, customer service training. We need to be streamlining permits, we should study different permits when people start a biz, or grow a biz, to facilitate that process. I was very impressed with the last meeting of the economic development partnership at City Hall.
But there’s more to do: we need more wayfairing signs and gateway signs, proclaiming things like Cittaslow, being bike friendly, etc.
Should the City Council debate issues that aren’t strictly local?
Gallian: I think people are very divided on this issue. It isn’t just the issue before you. It’s how the issue impacts the City of Sonoma. I lived and died the night of Dutra (her invitation to Petaluma city representatives to discuss a controversial asphalt plant). I believe I cut my teeth on that issue. It is important to insure that we are well-represented in some issues, things that are important, that have a discernable impact on City of Sonoma.
Would you still support the Tourism Improvement District?
Gallian: I was the one who recommended the agenda item that we have city representation on the tourism district board. We need to give it gentle guidance from the City Council. This is a collaboration. Linda Kelly is the city’s member on that board. She is the vehicle for the public to have a voice on the TID. I’m giving it nothing but a 100 percent chance for success.
Can you explain your vote against a water rate increase?
Gallian: I am on the Water Advisory Committee, I’ve learned this from the ground up. There are two determining factors to the issue. One, the water is supplied by the Sonoma County Water Agency, we get 95 percent of our water from them, so it’s important who you get on that board. Second, the other 5 percent of our water is from wells. We will always be invested in infrastructure.
More partnering with the Valley of the Moon Water District is good (to explore), we need to know how much more we can take from wells, how much more recycled water there can be. But our system is becoming “water hardened,” we don’t know how much more (capacity there is).
To merge with Valley of the Moon, that takes two sets of partners, two sets of rate payers. It’s not an overnight solution.
What’s the last book you read?
Gallian: Most of my subjects right now are in the subject of economics. I’m reading Paul Krugman’s book, “The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008.”
Who’s your hero?
Gallian: My husband. He’s my campaign manager. He’s still keeping romance alive.
What do you do for fun?
Gallian: We haven’t had a vacation in five years. Why would we go anywhere when we live in one of the greatest places on earth? If it was up to me, I would be sitting at Vallejo’s home around sunset, watching the sun slowly sink, gently quieting all the tension and anxiety.