Mike DeWald (@mike_dewald)
After a long day of interviews, the Santa Rosa City Council made it’s choice to fill the vacancy left by former Councilmember Julie Combs. After interviews with 19 candidates, and a four-round voting process, the council ultimately chose Dick Dowd to fill the seat. Following a lengthy interview process, council members were asked to rank their top choices in multiple rounds of voting, with candidates receiving zero or one vote being eliminated with each passing round.
Entering the final round of voting, the council had the choice between Jacqueline Ocaña and Karen Weeks, with the vote ending in a 3-3 deadlock with Councilmember Sawyer, Olivares, and Schwedhelm voting for Weeks and Rogers, Tibbetts, and Fleming voting for Ocaña. Following the vote, the council debated how to move forward. Councilmember Tibbetts spoke to the possibility of re-introducing Dick Dowd into the voting process as a consensus choice while the rest of the council spoke out in support of their respective choices.
Following comments, the council took a second vote, ending with the same result. After a lengthy debate on how to proceed, the council decided against going with a special election as the next available ballot would be in November, just a days before the appointment would be complete. The council ultimately took up the suggestion by Councilmember Tibbetts to reconsider Dick Dowd as a consensus alternative choice. After continued deliberation, Dowd was chosen to fill the open seventh seat on the council.
Dowd, a 44 year resident of Santa Rosa, served on the Board of Public Utilities in Santa Rosa for 25 years and also serves as Chair of the Community Advisory Committee for Sonoma Clean Power. Dowd will serve out the rest of the one-year at large seat on the council before it shifts to a district-based seat.