Editorial: Edwards, Brown, Hundley for Sonoma City Council

On Nov. 4, voters will elect three people to represent them on the Sonoma City Council. Incumbents Tom Rouse and Steve Barbose are leaving the council when their terms expire, while incumbent Ken Brown is running for re-election. Joining Brown in the race are challengers Madolyn Agrimonti, Lynda Corrado, Gary Edwards, Rachel Hundley, Andy Sawicki, Cameron Stuckey and Jack Wagner. All eight candidates are passionate about and committed to creating a better future for Sonoma, but we can only vote for three.

How do we choose?

The Index-Tribune recommends Gary Edwards, Ken Brown and Rachel Hundley. In making these endorsements, we looked at what we felt the city council needed in the way of experience, city knowledge, diversity and energy.

Edwards and Brown are the most qualified in the first two areas.Their experience and knowledge of how city government works far exceeds that of any of the other candidates.

Hundley, a small business owner and attorney, has been in our community for only two years, but she adds a much-needed dimension not only because of her obvious intelligence,small-business and legal acumen, but also because she is from an underrepresented generation in Sonoma.

Hundley was the most prepared of all of the candidates we interviewed, and impressed us with her high level of understanding of a wide variety of municipal issues, something she has acquired through numerous meetings with city officials and reading many lengthy, reports. She believes the city can and should improve the quality of its services in many areas by embracing new technologies and programs. On the issue of water, Hundley says the city can adopt more aggressive water conservation and reuse programs that more easily encourage and incentivize residents to adopt rainwater catchment and grey water reuse systems. At the same time, she would like to see more recycled water used to keep public spaces green. With energy and a strong work ethic, she would bring a pragmatic, common-sense approach to dealing with municipal matters, along with a strong desire to use her intellect to serve the community in the best way possible.

Gary Edwards has become an effective civic leader through years of volunteer service on numerous committees, boards, and service organizations, and currently serves as a city planning commissioner. A smart and successful businessman, Edwards has a well-earned reputation for collaboratively finding solutions to problems, a great attribute for city council service. He believes city government can become more efficient and “customer service friendly” by innovating and exploring the establishment of public-private partnerships to get things done more effectively. A founding member of Citta Slow Sonoma, Edwards is deeply committed to preserving Sonoma’s small town character while also maintaining the tourist dollars that are essential to fund city services. Maintaining that delicate balance is something that is important to Sonomans.

Ken Brown knows city government. He’s been in the middle of it for 16 years.Yes, that is a long time for an elected official to stay in one office, but it is also a measure of his commitment to Sonoma. Experience is important.Knowing and understanding the current arguments for or against an issue is a requirement for elected officials, but institutional knowledge of relevant factors based on years of service dealing with similar issues is invaluable. An open-minded, independent thinker, Brown has been a strong advocate for programs to protect and expand the city’s affordable housing supply, supported enhanced water conservation policies and advocated the retrofitting of downtown buildings to improve their ability to withstand earthquakes and fire. He listens to voters and is one of the most accessible city councilman Sonoma has ever had.

When we looked at the eight candidates for the council, we also considered the two who will remain as council members no matter how the election turns out.If the three candidates the I-T is endorsing were to be elected, the City of Sonoma would be served for the next four years by Laurie Gallian, David Cook, Gary Edwards, Ken Brown and Rachel Hundley.

We believe this represents an experienced, qualified and well-balanced mix that will work collaboratively to implement sound policies aimed at improving municipal services.

We also express the hope that no matter which three win the election, that the remaining five candidates will seek a way to serve the community as members of a commission or in some other way. Each have good things to offer.

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