The City of Sonoma completed its revised process of naming members and alternates to several city commissions last week, taking final action at its Feb. 5 City Council meeting.
Final appointments were made to the Community Services & Environment Commission (CSEC), the Design Review and Historic Preservation Commission, the Cultural and Fine Arts Commission and the Traffic Safety Committee.
The seven-member, one alternate Planning Commission had earlier been approved, with members taking their seats in November.
It was turmoil in the Planning Commission selection process that led to a new system for appointing commission members. In years past, the mayor would nominate commissioners from a pool of applicants, with the rest of the council confirming the appointment, or not. But several disagreements over mayoral nominations in recent years led the council to revise the appointment model, taking it out of the mayor’s hands.
The new method was adopted in September, providing each council member the opportunity to name their own choice for each commission from the pool of applicants. But questions were raised at that time which led the council to clarify the appointment process, and the terms of appointments, questions that were discussed at the Jan. 29 meeting and resolved the following week.
One particular question that begged clarification was: What happens to a commissioner, appointed to a four-year term by Councilmember A, if that councilmember loses his or her seat on the City Council, either by resignation or defeat in the next election?
It was decided that a four-year appointment is a four-year appointment, and commissioners serve out their full term regardless of their sponsoring councilmember’s political fate.
Commission appointees must also be qualified electors, either in the City of Sonoma or in Sonoma County, if the commission allows for a non-resident member.
A seven-member commission would have two “at large” members (not appointed by a specific councilmember) but these “at large” members would serve for a two-year term, instead of a full four-year term. And while it has been traditional that at least one at-large member be a non-City resident, that is now optional – all seven members could be city residents, with no necessary representation from outside city limits.
Finally an “ex-officio,” or non-voting youth position for the CSEC was approved, for a city resident between 14 and 18 years of age. That seat has yet to be filled; City Clerk Rebekah Barr said the recruitment process would begin soon.
The city’s application process for the commissions was open for a full month, closing on Jan. 3.
As with the Planning Commission, the first step was to dissolve the previous commissions to start with a clean slate, then appoint new members under the new policy – one choice per council member. In the cases of a seven-member commission, the council as a whole votes on nominations to select the “at-large” members.
The composition of the city’s commissions and committees is as follows:
Planning Commission (7 members, 1 alternate)
Lynda Corrado, alternate
Community Services & Environment Commission (7 members plus alternate)