Ken Foley Has Questions for Council Candidates
Former Mayor wonders why candidates won't field questions
Ken Foley served two-terms on the Sebastopol City Council in the 1990’s and still keeps track of who is running for the council. In a recent conversation over coffee, he told me that he had sent a set of questions to the candidates via email and only one candidate actually responded. That was Sandra Maurer. He was surprised and said that he’s seeing “the least engagement by candidates” in any council race he can recall.
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He sent to the candidates the following email with a number of good questions:
Thank you for standing for election and your willingness to serve. I would like to know your views and responses to the questions below. Feel free to be as brief or expansive as you like.
The current City Manager is also the City Attorney. When he retires should the city return to a separation of the two positions?
Should the city return to in person meetings for the city council, planning commission and all other city boards and committees?
The city intends to replace approximately 1600 water meters with so called "smart meters". Should this decision be reversed or modified? Please explain.
Which city committees do you want to serve on? Are there any committees that should be eliminated? Any there any NEW committees that should be implemented?
The city has hired a consultant to explore a possible merger with another fire department. What is your position on this potential change?
Should the city also explore contracting with the Sonoma County Sheriff for police services?
How will you keep Sebastopol citizens informed of what the city council is doing?
Should the city relax parking requirements, setbacks and other impediments to promote more housing? Do you support more dense housing such as duplexes, accessory dwelling units in ALL zoning districts?
Do you support converting unused or underutilized commercial buildings to housing?
Should Sebastopol promote housing for all income levels?
I hope to hear from you soon.
Foley sent his email out and he followed up with a second request. Here is what happened:
Sandi Maurer: “She responded and we talked for about 25 minutes.” He appreciated his conversation with her, but he can’t get over her focus on EMF.
Jill McLewis: “She responded to the second request, suggesting we talk over coffee; to which I said name the time and place. She has not replied.”
Dennis Colthurst: “At the FD Breakfast, Colthurst asked to have coffee together and I replied name the time and place. He took my info but has not replied.”
Stephen Zollman: No response.
Oliver Dick: [Correction] Dick responded to Foley’s request by saying he’d drop by for a chat when he was in the neighborhood, but that otherwise “Don't have a lot of time for one on one email threads right now.”
The lack of response seems intentional for some, judging from Dick’s personal blog, where he admits:
“I haven’t responded to any of the special interest groups and non profits who asked me to fill out forms explaining how I would support their positions in return for their endorsements. There are two reasons for this. The first is I don’t have time to research them, and secondly I don’t want to be bound by anything I said I would do if I am elected.”
Ken Foley, who has been out of politics for twenty years, doesn’t represent any special interest groups or non-profits. “I am the public,” he said with a smile. “But I pay attention and have a loud mouth.”
The Trio and The Duo
Foley groups the candidates in two groups: “the trio and the duo.” He thinks this race could use more “umph.”
“I don’t know when council races became so damn boring,” said Foley in our conversation. “I’d like to see more enthusiasm from the candidates. I’d like to see them talking about their ideas and pointing out disagreements with each other.” He’d like to see them answering the kinds of questions he sent them in email.
Foley is glad that change is coming to the city council. (He thinks the council should return to in-person or hybrid meetings.) He also cautioned: “We are losing many years of experience.” He can’t remember a time when so much was up in the air in Sebastopol. The three new council members will join a council that has to hire a city manager and a city attorney as well as a Fire Chief and Police Chief. There are plenty of questions they will have to answer.
“All five of the candidate can be capable and effective council people,” Foley said. “But they will have to step up their game.”
If any candidate wishes to respond to Ken Foley’s questions before the election, we are happy to publish your answers in the Sebastopol Times.