Election day has come and gone, the votes have been counted, and a winner has been declared. But changing the date on your desk calendar cannot alter the philosophical positions that split Sonoma into two camps. Wounds are fresh and the division is still there.
Now, the real challenge begins – how to bring two opposing forces together for the good of the community. Leaders on both sides of the issue say a new dialogue has begun, a conversation about how the community will retain its singular identity while functioning in an environment where tourism pays the bills.
“The divisions in Sonoma are real and they can’t be papered over,” said Larry Barnett, who led the fight to limit hotel development to projects with 25 rooms or less. “What’s important is that they be examined and exposed in a process respecting difference, and not by feeding conflict through dismissive and demeaning behavior. It takes hard work, practice, and occasional failure, but this is something I believe is essential for a healthy society.”
Bill Blum, the general manager of MacArthur Place who was often a spokesperson for the “No on B” side, agrees. “There was a lot of talk about how divided the community was, but most people on both sides had their hearts in the right place, so I’m confident we can work together and find common ground as Sonoma continues to grow.”
Meanwhile, Darius Anderson, whose hotel project was put on hold pending the outcome of the election, will eventually restart the Environmental Impact Report process. But the election has given him time to reflect on how he wants to proceed.