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Sebastappeal - Sarah Gurney - January 2016


Sebastappeal - January 2016 - Sarah Gurney

by Sarah Glade Gurney

"It Takes Stamina to Make Democracy Work." 

As Sebastopol’s Mayor for 2016, I endorse this quote by a local citizen about our civic process. 

I believe that Sebastopol’s experience of democracy includes input from many more engaged citizens and local businesses than the county’s—and country’s—average. It compels responsibility and responsiveness from those elected to office.

Input takes time and its discussion takes even more time to integrate many points of view and filter them through our community’s values to a decision point. The result that I’ve observed: cheering from our dedicated public, after robust discussions during lengthy Council meetings, “Democracy in action!”

According to me, that’s why Sebastopol is the top-ranked liberal city in Crowdpac’s survey of cities in Sonoma County, according to PD reporter Guy Kovner. We are 56th out of 4,994 nationwide.

Crowdpac’s survey measured financial contributions to state and federal offices. Being a non-partisan city-office-holder in a small town, I prefer to measure local time and energy rather than money. 

Sebastopol has stamina and it’s measured by engagement. We maintain a tradition of door-to-door grassroots campaigning that generates close ties between the voter and the elected—a relationship that endures over the four-year term. I encourage you to keep that relationship vital. Contact me.

2016 as the Year about The Long Term

During the upcoming year, the City Council is likely to make crucial, long-range decisions about many of our community’s key issues:

• Our new General Plan

• The Laguna Preserve Management Plan

• The Pine Grove Square Development Proposal on the Burnett Street Parking Lot

• Our Improved Public Library Facility, proposed by LANTERN

• An updated Wayfinding System for Vehicle and Pedestrian Signage 

• The Requirements of Community Impact Reports.

 The Council will appoint members to the Planning Commission and Design Review Board for four-year terms. Each of these volunteer boards directs the future of development in town, notably for 2016, the possibility of a new hotel or hotels.

 Our electorate will vote on our Urban Growth Boundary [UGB] to define where Sebastopol will develop: outwardly on the ground or upwardly with greater density. 

 Additionally in November, voters will seat two Council Members.

 Our community will determine our financial future by buying locally and generously donating time and money to our local non-profits. 

Out and About

 During my term as Mayor, I will work to be accessible and visible in our community. I am asking for invitations to attend your event, speak to your group, meet your neighbors and listen to your concerns. 

 I’d like to be creative about office hours and their location, other than City Hall, so that I can reach out to more citizens effectively. Any suggestions?

 In recent years, the Council has planned a few off-site meetings. Let me know where I might re-locate one of our Tuesday evening meetings so the Council can connect with another part of our community. It’d be great to see our community from another venue besides the Youth Annex on Morris Street on the eastern edge of town.

Join the 2016 Campaign for a Safer Slower Sebastopol

 Drivers are likely to encounter Sebtowners on the sidewalks motioning with two-palms-down or calling out to them to slow down as they travel through town.  

These signals are part of a new informal citizen campaign to encourage slower, safer speeds throughout town. 40-35-30 mph-none of these speeds is acceptable in our neighborhoods or on our main throughways that are heavily traveled by commuters and tourists. 

Folks want cars to slow down, so they can walk on the sidewalks, in the company of kids or dogs, and cross the streets without worrying about their safety. 

Help change our culture. Drive slowly from your house to your destination and back. Leave 10 minutes early so there’s no need to rush.

Celebrate Community in 2016 and Wave at Hi-Noon 

Local boot-maker and Downtown Association Member, Michael Anthony Carnacchi, encourages business people to step out on the sidewalk every Friday at noon and wave to neighbors across the street and to passers-by on foot or by car. 

Michael advocates for a friendlier Sebastopol: “We all rush to see an ambulance or fire truck when we hear sirens. Why not come out at a happy time instead, to celebrate and connect from the heart?”