Healdsburg City Hall

Virtual meeting starts at 5 p.m. tomorrow

In a special meeting set for tomorrow evening, July 7, the Healdsburg City Council will choose one of four candidates — Alex Silverman, Ozzy Jimenez, Richard Bottarini and Skylaer Palacios — to fill the vacant city council seat for either a 2.5-year term, or for the interim until the Nov. 3 election. 

Starting at 5 p.m., city council will interview all four candidates virtually. Following the interview process the council will determine whether to appoint someone for the interim, or for the remainder of former mayor Leah Gold’s term.

A call for applicants was made last week when council determined that an interview process would be the best way to proceed in order to make the process open and fair for those interested in the position. At the time of the June 29 meeting, Healdsburg residents offered overwhelming support for the appointment of Jimenez, a local business owner.

Councilmembers were initially split on the decision. At first, acting Mayor Evelyn Mitchell and acting Vice Mayor Shaun McCaffery voiced interest in calling a special election for November in order to fill the seat. While councilmembers David Hagele and Joe Naujokas seemed to support Jimenez, they thought an interview process would be the best way to move forward.

After much back and forth discussion, councilmembers decided on opening the position to applicants on June 30. 

Each applicant will be asked the same five questions during Tuesday’s interview process:

  • Why are you interested in this role?
  • What qualifications and experience do you have that can best serve the Healdsburg community and its government?
  • What do you see as the top issues facing Healdsburg now and in the near future and what are your ideas to address them?
  • What do you value the most about Healdsburg and the Healdsburg community and why?
  • The council may decide to make an appointment to either a 4-5 month term (A term that ends in December 2020 during which a special election occurs to fill the remainder of the term) or, a term of 2.5 years (A term that ends in December 2022). Please offer your thoughts about which alternative you would prefer and why. Also please note if you’d be unwilling to consider A or B if the appointment was offered to you and why.

Two of the four applicants, Jimenez and Silverman, said they would be willing to serve the 2.5-year appointment while Bottarini and Palacios are interested in an interim position.

Silverman, a former sommelier at SingleThread, said in his application he’s willing to serve on the council as long as possible to, “Spearhead initiatives and see them through.” He said he’s interested in the role because he wants to give back to the community and provide a “fresh” voice.

He listed the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the top issues facing Healdsburg and added that he would want to establish municipal high-speed WiFi, so that all residents can have internet connection, and a community advisory committee so underrepresented citizens can be heard.

Jimenez, the CEO and owner of Noble Folk, is also interested in a full 2.5-year appointment. In his application, Jimenez said having someone in a full term would provide more stability, continuity and fiscal responsibility. He said he is interested in the role because Healdsburg “Needs strong leadership in these uncertain times.”

He named the affordable housing crisis as one of the top issues facing Healdsburg, along with economic diversity, COVID-19, and the hiring of a new city manager.

Bottarini, who’s served nearly five years on the Healdsburg Planning Commission, said he is only willing to serve an interim appointment until the position is filled through a special election in November. He noted that he has no desire or intention to run for office. Nevertheless, he said he’s interested in the 4 to 5 month-role — should the council choose that route — because he believes in public service and wants to use his abilities for the betterment of society.

He said there are many short-term and long-term issues facing Healdsburg such as cultural diversity, selection of a new city manager, and homelessness, just to name a few.

Palacios, who graduated from Healdsburg High School in 2011 and went on to be Miss Sonoma County 2014 and a local substitute teacher, is also interested in an interim role, but would like to run for council following the short-term position. She said she’s interested in the role in large part, because she wants to be able to listen to the community.

In her application she also said she believes housing is the biggest issue facing the community.

How to comment and watch

Before the interview process gets underway, there will be time for public comment. Those who would like to submit a public comment must join the Webex meeting. 

As per the city’s instructions, to join, enter in the event number, 146 543 8620, in the gray box under the words “Join a meeting” and click “Enter.”

The next screen will display the event Information. In the middle of the screen towards the bottom or in the event status line, click “Register.” Fill in the requested information, first and last name and email address and hit “Submit.”

The next screen will display your registration has been confirmed, notifying you, that you will receive a confirmation email with the detailed event information. On the day of the meeting, open up the confirmation email you received from the event registration and click on the green button that says “Join event.” If the meeting host has started the event; the event should automatically start on your screen. If the meeting host has not started the event, you may need to refresh your screen a few minutes before the start of the meeting and again click on “Join event.”

If you are having trouble providing public comment during the meeting, email Interim City Manager Dave Kiff during the meeting at dkiff@ci.healdsburg.ca.us.

Once in the meeting, open the list of participants and look for a hand icon in the bottom right hand corner of the participant list. Click on the hand icon, it will place you in line to speak. When it is your turn to comment, the city clerk or the mayor will call upon you to comment. 

The meeting starts tomorrow at 5 p.m.

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