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Sonoma County Gazette

Being Part of the Community
and Giving Something Back


Nov 18, 2018
by Carol Russell


When I grew up, and I thought about City Council, I look at the men and women
then thought
– these were people who just wanted to be part of the community
and give something back. . .I looked up to those people.

Ben Wenstrup

Elections are over!  Gus Wolter will be forging on for another four years.Marta Cruz  and  Jason Turner  will be joining Gus,  Melanie Bagby  and  Mary Ann Brigham  on the Council. Welcome and thank you for committing to our community of Cloverdale.And thank you, Gus, for hanging in there.

Additionally, thanks to  Carol Russell  and  Joe Palla  for what you each have given to our community over both your 12 years of service on the Council. Carol and I (Reece, who’s writing this) met 15 years ago, while I was working a  Human Rights Commission table at  Black Bart Day. A few months later I walked into a meeting for Human Rights Cloverdale and there Carol sat. It was the start of a long partnership of giving to the Community – each in our own way.

Three years later, Carol ran for  Cloverdale City Council   as an openly Gay woman. At that time, it was the only city in Sonoma County not supporting Gay marriage. Soon after her election this changed. Today our community is stronger with this step towards inclusiveness, in part due to Carol’s willingness to step forward.

Inclusiveness did not stop there.  Once elected, Carol has worked on a number of county and regional agency boards and organizations to help get Cloverdale connected to both our county and our region. After two tries,  SMART  (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) was voted in and, approximately a decade ago, Carol had the honor of her first appointment by the  Mayors and Council Members Association  as their representative to the its Board. (She promptly got friends walking our town to get out information on the benefits of having a train transport us to Santa Rosa and on to the S.F. Ferry!)

Proud of SMART’s success, Carol works hard to help bring its cool trains   “All the way to Cloverdale!”   while also serving as  Chair of the Sonoma County Transit Authority  and  Regional Climate Protection Agency  boards. Engaging us in RCPA’s sustainability efforts is one way she helped move Cloverdale on to this great Sonoma County team. Along with fellow Council Members, Carol encouraged us to focus on water conservation during the drought and we lead the County in that effort.

Local businesses that bring economic development yet maintain the natural, friendly feel of our city have been another focus especially during the years of economic downturn beginning in 2008 when Cloverdale’s government, residents and businesses worked together as a community to accomplish projects despite the setbacks.

Joe Palla is very much the same way. Earning our thanks, but with a different focus. Joe enjoyed working with the League of Cities (all 480 of them) across California. He brought Cloverdale out beyond the bounds of the County into the world, having a positive impact on city government as he went into the state. Joe has been on the League’s board for the last 7 years and has worked with Mike McGuire, both as a Supervisor and a State Senator, on legislation pertinent to local issues. Jim Wood, our Assembly person, as well as James Gore, Fourth District Supervisor, have helped Joe bring Cloverdale to the table on broader issues.

Joe has worked his whole life in service of his communities - first as a Police person, including Cloverdale’s Chief of Police, and then as a Council Member. He stresses building the infrastructure needed for a community to survive despite financial setbacks such as the loss of Redevelopment money and the 2008 recession.

Locally, Joe has served on and been Chair of the Council’s School Subcommittee. He has collaborated with the schools in getting them a scoreboard, rebuilding the snack shack, refurbishing the tennis courts, and securing the funding via the school district, city and county for a swimming pool heating system allowing for school swimming sports, longer swimming season, extended swimming programs, and warmer water for us older folks.

Thank you, Carol and Joe, for giving so generously to our community for so many years. And to the newbies, thank you for being willing to follow in the footsteps of such extraordinary Council members.


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