Opinion: Healdsburg Council Race

Opinion: Healdsburg Council Race

Healdsburg City Council ballot:

The direction Healdsburg takes regarding housing, hotels and a wine-based tourism economy will be determined at the polls where 3 candidates for city council are running for 2 seats.

Retiring mayor Brigette Mansell has consistently supported policy that reflects the views of the majority of residents. Leah Gold was elected to fill the remaining 18 months of Eric Ziedrich’s seat in June 2017; she is running as an incumbent for a new 4-year term; she is generally considered a shoo-in. 

 

Gold and Mansell have been mostly aligned, but the council majority often leans in favor of approving policy that favors tourism growth and high-end development—it is generally accepted that these agendas promote gentrification: attract 2nd home buyers, help to escalate home prices and hollow out neighborhoods; and don’t reduce auto or air travel GHG pollution. 

First time candidate, Evelyn Mitchell, is supported by Chamber of Commerce, Sonoma County Alliance, North Bay Assoc. of Realtors, North Coast Builders Exchange, N. Calif. Engineering Contractors Assoc., 6 former mayors (including Mike McGuire) and the largest local lumber, developers, builders and real estate companies. 

(Red Flag) At the candidates forum Mitchell spoke in favor of the controversial Replay Resorts hotel and condo proposed development downtown but has since expressed less supportive views.

 

Ms. Mitchell has a management consulting business and was Board President of the Humane Society. Her stated goals include “balancing the  needs of tourists and locals” and “supporting local businesses and economic climate.”
All 3 candidates support increasing affordable housing. Measure P, if it passes, will exempt the building of 50 multifamily rentals for the missing middle income category from the existing Growth Management Ordinance.

Tim Meinken is running to represent the interests of the residents and local workers (“Residents First”) and is aligned with Leah Gold; both favor limiting hotel development, especially in the downtown core and a diverse economy. Meinken will focus on transit-oriented solutions, well-managed growth that benefits residents, forming a Latino commission, protecting our small-town “charm,” creating neighborhoods, not developments. He advocates taking advantage of city-owned, shovel-ready parcels to build affordable housing ASAP.

 
Mr. Meinken has an MBA in finance and transportation and is a former pension and benefits consultant. He and his wife, Anne Gere, own and run a small local winery that specializes in sustainably grown grapes. He was part of the committee that brought the American Institute of Architects to Healdsburg with the Sustainable Design Assessment Team in August and favors the master planning suggested by the AIA that elevates residents contributions in the planning process. 
 
Meinken got a late start on his campaign due to an intense involvement in the SDAT this summer. Among his supporters are the Sonoma County Democratic Party, Sierra Club, Sonoma County Conservation Action, North Bay Labor Council, IBEW 1245—HBG City Employees, Healdsburg Citizens for Sustainable Solutions, GIMBY (Granny In My Back Yard), and HBG Citizens for Responsible Growth, Leah Gold and a growing grassroots. Mitchell who began campaigning last spring has outspent Meinken 3 or 4 to 1.

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