Two seats on the Sebastopol City Council are up for election on Nov. 3. Both of the incumbents, Michael Carnacchi and Neysa Hinton are seeking re-election. Challengers in the race are Evaristo "Evert" Fernandez, Diana Rich and Vaughn Richard Higginbotham. Sonoma West Times & News submitted questions to the candidates. Carnacchi's responses are included here in a Q&A format. The responses have been edited for length in some places.
All active, registered voters have been mailed ballots. Completed ballots can be returned by mail (if they are postmarked by Nov. 3) or dropped off at one of 20 secure ballot drop boxes in the County (as long as they are deposited before 8 p.m. on Nov. 3). There will also be 30 in-person voting locations open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 31 to Nov. 2., and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Nov. 3 For a complete list of all ballot drop boxes and in-person voting locations, please visit https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/where-to-vote.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself — what should longtime and new Sebastopol residents know about you? What is one thing that folks who see you around town may not know about you?
For 27 years, I have owned and operated a small Main Street boot making and cobbler business. The average citizen may not know that I was a consultant for Pixar's movie “Coco” which has a family of boot makers as a central theme.
2. Should you be elected, how do you plan to stay engaged with the Sebastopol community?
One thing that people already say about me is that I am engaged and if I am re-elected or not, I will stay engaged with my community by participating in our governance.
3. Current city council members serve on a handful of other boards and subcommittees both across the county and in the city. Do you plan on representing the community on a similar scale? If so, how?
Currently, I serve as Sebastopol's representative as a director on the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency and we are half way through developing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan as mandated by the voters. This has required many hundreds of hours of studying the technical and geological details about groundwater and I am confident that I am the best person to continue this work. I also serve as the alternate director for the Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). If re-elected, I will continue to represent Sebastopol on these important issues.
For the last four years I have worked diligently to build a great relationship with Caltrans which is very important considering the fact that we have two state highways intersecting in our downtown. This a unique advantage to Sebastopol because the monies to improve our corridors come directly from the state. If we are forward thinkers and planners, we can develop a plan for the next round of state funding that will help to improve our vehicle and pedestrian thoroughfare because Caltrans owns our main streets and sidewalks and they are responsible for their maintenance and improvement. Our current relationship with Caltrans is the best that it has ever been, and I will continue to build upon this relationship if I am re-elected. A good example of this is the latest ADA upgrades that make Sebastopol's downtown safer and more accessible to persons with disabilities, elders and pedestrians in general.
4. As cities, counties and states are wrestling with the current and future impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, what do you see as the city’s role in helping combat the impact of the pandemic and resulting shelter-in-place orders?
We have already produced face masks for our citizenry and we have a conscious community who are and will continue to do their individual parts to combat this pandemic.
5. What are the top three issues you see the city having to address in the next year? In the next four years?
We absolutely need to update our City of Sebastopol Emergency Plan that was last updated in 1996. A lot has changed since then and I am currently seated on the Sebastopol Emergency Plan Update Committee where our work has just begun. I will continue to work on this important task that needs to be completed.
6. What do you think makes you a good fit for Sebastopol City Council?
Because for 27 years I have served anyone who wears shoes or boots and this have given me the unique perspective of knowing our community from the ground up and having a close relationship with the pulse of our city. I am also acquainted with nearly all of the city's employees on a first name basis and I have been a hands-on type of councilmember whereby I have developed a great working relationship with all of the departments.
7. Is there anything else you believe readers should know about you or your platform?
Four years ago, I was elected to Sebastopol City Council without receiving or spending money, without seeking or accepting endorsements, and without campaign signs or printed propaganda.
For my 2020 re-election bid, this song remains the same. In our republic, the people have a right to call with their vote upon any person’s services and when they do, it is the duty of the individual to yield their services to that call. I will be honored to serve again if reelected, but I will not actively campaign for the office. As a member of city council, I and my Main Street boot shop of 27 years have always been open and accessible to everyone, to listen to their concerns, take varying viewpoints into consideration, and make decisions based on what I feel is best for our entire community.
Every decision that I make is free of pressure from outside groups or special interests and I will remain an independent voice every day that I serve as your city council member.
If I am re-elected, my promise is this; I will serve at the best of my ability with great resolve to promote our general welfare, and further our pursuit of happiness.