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 Everett Fernandez, Diana Rich and Vaughn Richard Higginbotham. Sonoma West Times & News submitted questions to the candidates. Hinton'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, visit https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/where-to-vote.
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?
I am a third-generation Sonoma County resident. Born in Petaluma, I grew up in Sebastopol. After graduation, I attended college in Idaho on a Pell Grant while waitressing and working overnights at the local radio station as a DJ to cover rent. The radio job turned into a career in radio broadcasting that would span 25 years. I moved back to Sebastopol in 1997, got married and started a family.
One thing: I was a full-time working DJ in radio when my career started although I switched after three years to sales and eventually management when I came back to Sonoma County. I needed to make more than a DJ made to pay my rent in California.
Should you be elected, how do you plan to stay engaged with the Sebastopol community?
I have been an engaged council member. I have a special Facebook page specific to my council work and post and/or share community and council related posts. I attend many local events in Sebastopol including fundraisers, service clubs’ meetings, I host an annual themed Sebastopol Walk to name just a few things that I do on-going as a council member. Lastly, I always publicize my telephone number for the public and I always answer the phone and speak when a community member calls to share concerns or questions with me. I believe engagement and accessibility is a requirement of an elected official.
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 on several subcommittees: Locals Who Make a Difference, Budget Sub-Committee, CalPERS, Park Village, Laguna Stakeholders and the Fire Department Long Term Staffing Goals & Solutions Subcommittee. I represent Sebastopol on the Russian River Watershed Association and the Mayors and Councilmembers Association of Sonoma County Legislative Committee. Additionally, I was appointed to the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District Advisory Committee by the Mayor and Council Members Association. Lastly, I proudly serve as 5th District Supervisor, Lynda Hopkins’ appointee as a Director on the Sonoma County Fair Board. You could say that I like to stay busy, and I enjoy my work on these various boards and committees!
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?
The City of Sebastopol’s role is to help both our residents and our businesses understand the ever-changing Health Orders and provide as much assistance as possible to navigate through this pandemic. The City of Sebastopol must be proactive. I believe we have done this! As a city, we have and need to continue to provide on-going information and education. The city has hired a consultant to help small businesses and non-profits. The City has recently sponsored both the updated façade improvement and zero interest loan programs to support local business. The city is trying to negotiate with Caltrans to provide parklets throughout downtown to support downtown restaurants and I have been involved in that effort. The City of Sebastopol’s role is to be as responsive to our citizens as possible and at the same time we must be fiscally responsible and make sure that as a small city, we continue to watch our resources and budgetary spending to remain solvent in our unpredictable future.
What are the top three issues you see the city having to address in the next year? In the next four years?
Housing and our budget shortfalls as result of the COVID-19 pandemic related to loss sales tax revenues. These two issues along with continued efforts related to reducing waste and lowering greenhouse gases for a positive impact for our climate. Difficult decisions will face the city and the council in the upcoming year and beyond. As I write this, there are fires burning again in our communities. Unfortunately, these natural disasters are happening more and more frequently.
In the next four years? I believe there will be many challenges in the next four years. In Sebastopol one of those challenges will be finding a long-term solution to provide more funding and staffing in our fire department to support our dedicated volunteers.
What do you think makes you a good fit for Sebastopol City Council?
The great part about being an incumbent is people already know you. They know how you approach the work; they know your voting record and what you stand for. I am a good fit on Sebastopol City Council because I practice collaboration and inclusion, not just with my colleagues, but with the entire community in Sebastopol. When I approach issues, I listen to our entire community, not just people who shout the loudest. I approach each issue without preconceptions. I also do my homework in advance and I carefully consider all input. I represent the entire City of Sebastopol and listen carefully to all opinions and feedback from our community. I’m not afraid to voice my views on issues that I believe in and I believe represent the community’s voice.
Is there anything else you believe readers should know about you or your platform?
If I am re-elected for the voters in Sebastopol for a second term, I will continue to work hard for our small cities. I am proud of my endorsements listed below as these are organizations and elected officials who know of my work in the last four years as a member of Sebastopol City Council. This is just a small list — a complete list including Sebastopol residents, community organizers and other elected regional officials is listed on my website.
*Sonoma County Democratic Party *5th District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins *US Congressman Jared Huffman, *Caryl Hart, former Regional Parks Director *Senator Mike McGuire * Assemblymember Marc Levine *Operating Engineers Local 3 *Wine Country Young Voters *Luke Lindenbusch, Sebastopol Planning Commissioner *John Necker *Bleys W. Rose
-Additional endorsements at www.electneysa.com/view-endorsements