There has never been a better time for local residents to think about participating in local democracy.
In the Nov. 8 general election, three Healdsburg City Council seats will be on the ballot: two four-year terms and a two-year term to fill the remainder of Skylaer Palacios’ term.
Palacios resigned in May, and the council decided to continue with only four members until the election. This unexpected decision broke recent precedent. The last time a city council member resigned, the open seat was filled by appointment.
Usually, terms are for four years, and alternate general elections have either two or three terms open. The seats currently held by Evelyn Mitchell and Osvaldo (Ozzy) Jimenez will be the four-year terms. Mitchell was elected in 2018 and has confirmed she will seek re-election, debuting her campaign in this year’s Twilight Parade.
Incumbent Jimenez, currently serving as Healdsburg’s mayor, was appointed to the seat he holds. He is filling out the four-year term won by Leah Gold in the 2018 election. When Gold resigned in mid-2020 amidst racial justice controversies, she recommended that a “person of color” succeed her, and Jimenez was selected to fill out the four-year term.
Jimenez has not yet declared whether or not he will run for the council seat, despite several inquiries from the Tribune, saying in an email, “I’m withholding my announcement until I deem an appropriate time.”
The two resignations that Healdsburg recently experienced—and several more in the other Sonoma County city councils—suggest that the job may not be what it seems from the outside. In both cases, public pressure was blamed for the resignations.
Gold, then the mayor, stepped down in June 2020, when she was dismissive of demonstrators’ calls for discussion about the Healdsburg Police Department’s use-of-force policies. The community backlash led to her stepping down. Gold had previously served as a councilmember.
Palacios, a newcomer to politics, ran in the fall of 2020 as both national and local conversations about social equity dominated discourse. She won election at the age of 25 to become Healdsburg’s first Latina council member.
Her refusal to get a Covid vaccination, however, did not sit well with the other council members or the community, though she cited as a primary reason for her resignation difficulty in finding affordable housing in town.
To be eligible for these offices, an individual must be at least 18 years of age, a citizen of the United States and a resident of the state of California, a registered voter and a resident within the city limits of the city of Healdsburg. Don’t expect to get rich—pay is a nominal stipend.
Prospective candidates should consult the “Tools for Candidates” page on the city website at https://healdsburg.gov/855/Tools-for-candidates for helpful information on office requirements, fair political practices, election signage and other resources.
Nomination and election forms are now being accepted, through Aug. 12, by appointment only at the City Clerk’s Office. Raina Allen, the city clerk, can be reached at 707-431-3317 or by email at [email protected].
If an incumbent does not file for their seat by the deadline, the application period is extended until Aug. 17, to allow more time for possible candidates to file for a potentially more competitive race.