Outgoing Sebastopol mayor urges end to bitterness
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 10:19 p.m.
Two new members were seated on the Sebastopol City Council Tuesday night, in a meeting where the outgoing mayor made an eloquent plea for the city to reunite after what had been a divisive and bitter election season.
“We are at a crossroads, in the sense that we just finished a difficult and somewhat contentious election campaign,” said Mayor Guy Wilson, who did not seek re-election.
Things were said and feelings were hurt, maybe not by the candidates themselves but by their supporters, and it belied Sebastopol's small-town friendliness, Wilson said.
“As we go forward, there does need to be some coming together. It will be a challenge for the new council to appeal to people's better sensibilities,” Wilson said.
The election winners seated Tuesday were Robert Jacob, 35, and John Eder, 59.
During the reorganization, Vice Mayor Michael Kyes was elected mayor and newcomer Jacob was elected vice mayor.
Jacob and Eder both were opponents of the CVS Pharmacy-Chase Bank branch project planned for the vacant Pellini Chevrolet dealership at one of Sebastopol's most prominent and busiest intersections.
That project polarized the city as it took more than two years and two dozen often emotional meetings to get through the planning process. It was approved in a controversial 3-2 council vote.
The issue also shaped the City Council elections, in which personal attacks were made against some candidates and city staff.
Jacob, founder and executive director of Peace in Medicine, which has medical marijuana dispensaries in Sebastopol and Santa Rosa, received 29.4 percent of the vote.
Eder, a representative of Boise Mobile Equipment in Boise, Idaho, received 25.1 percent, just edging out incumbent Councilwoman Kathleen Shaffer, who received 24.3 percent.
The two other candidates, Kathy Austin and Colleen Fernald, received 18.8 and 2.4 percent of the vote, respectively.
Jacob and Eder are taking the seats of Wilson and Shaffer.
What was overshadowed was the significance of Jacob's election, believed to be the first time a medical marijuana executive has been elected to public office in California.
“It is unprecedented, as far as I know,” said Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML, which advocates for the legalization of marijuana.
The new council makeup now has a majority of members who oppose the CVS project, which still needs to have the council sign off on some final design details and needs sign and lighting plans to be approved by the Design Review Board.
Jacob and Eder join Kyes and Councilwoman Sarah Gurney, who were the two votes on the council against the project.
Wilson, Shaffer and Councilman Patrick Slayter all voted in favor of the project and only Slayter remains on the council.
(You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. )
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