Saturday, October 25, 2014


Shepherd Bliss

Why I Endorse

Gurney, Glass, and Slayter

For Sebastopol City Council

I endorse and contribute to incumbents Sarah Gurney, Una Glass, and Patrick Slayter’s campaigns to continue their effective service to our larger community as members of the Sebastopol City Council. At this unpredictable time in history, we need the continuity they offer, as well as the diversity of their experiences and perspectives. They have served Sebastopol and the West County well.

During my 24 years living and farming here and attending many City Council meetings, this has been the most effective and progressive City Council. They deserve the chance to continue their good work on behalf of our larger community and the opportunity to implement programs on which they have been working. Change usually takes time. Gurney, Glass, and Slayter work well as a team, which is what we need at this time of economic and political uncertainty.

As an activist opposed to CVS’s proposed downtown store, which Slayter supported, I disagree with him on this matter. However, I have come to respect him. Slayter has proven himself to be a collegial collaborator seeking consensus. He effectively represents an important constituency in Sebastopol and West County. Slayter has proven himself able to represent Sebastopol as a whole. Once elected by a democratic process, one needs to represent the entire town and its surroundings, not just those who voted for the candidate. Slayter cares for Sebastopol. As vice-mayor, he deserves to be our next mayor. I hope that the politically experienced Glass may be given the opportunity to bring her substantial experiences and credentials as an environmentalist to the vice-mayor role.

Patrick Slayter
Slayter was the most visible Council member at the ten-day Village Building Convergence (VBC), which I helped organize. He and his wife Teresa were at the opening and at the last evening of presentations. Architect Mark Landman of Portland’s City Repair, on which the VBC was based, spoke that evening. Slayter is an architect, which is one of the many skills he brings to the Council.
Also, my puppy has learned things from the Slayters' more mature dog, as I have learned things from Patrick.

I have also worked with their challenger, my friend Jonathan Greenberg. I support many of his good ideas, for example on expanding library hours and working to keep the hospital open. This excellent writer describes himself as an “effective whistleblower.” I think Greenberg can be more effective by questioning the City Council than by stepping into a governing position.

Jonathan Greenberg
I wish that Jonathan had run for the Palm Drive Healthcare District Board, which could have provided him experience inside a governing body about both their possibilities and limitations. A common way of getting such experience is to apply to serve on the Planning Commission or the Design Review Board, where one can “learn the ropes.” Perhaps after living here for a while longer and making more of a transition from a big city to a small town and serving in some public role, Greenberg might make a better candidate for an elected position.

There is a big difference between criticizing ideas, which I support doing, and attacking people. I teach my college students not to attack individuals, which is described as the ad hominen fallacy. It would be helpful to elevate political discourse, especially in small towns where we need to build community among people who have political and other differences in order to deal with crises that may come our way.

Jordan Burns
I also support Jordan Burns to be on the Santa Rosa Junior College Board of Trustees. Burns, 30,  impresses me as someone to replace the man closer to my 70 years, who has been on that Board for 29 years. We need some new blood closer to the age of the majority of the JC students. He frequents West County gatherings, at the Grange, for example, and could be a rising figure in Sonoma County politics.

(Shepherd Bliss {} teaches college part-time, owns Kokopelli Farm, and has contributed to 24 books.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to Shepherd for this excellent, and constructive, assessment of Sebastopol's current crop of City Council candidates!
    The current City Council is functioning so collegially, that it is a great pleasure to attend meetings. Following Shepherd's suggestions would continue those very positive interactions, including policies that invite public ideas and participation.


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