At this coming Monday’s meeting of the Sonoma City Council, the last item on the agenda is a discussion about possibly changing the way the city appoints members to its commissions. At present, the appointment process involves the Mayor and one other council member (rotating among all council members) interviewing all candidates. After that process is completed, the Mayor offers a candidate’s name for approval of the council, which the council may or may not do. Recently, Planning Commission appointments have generated debate about the appointment process among the council.
Possible alternatives might include interviewing all candidates in public at a City Council meeting, and then voting. This is an approach that was used but abandoned in the 1990s in favor of the present method. The public interview process, it was decided at that time, had major flaws; the candidate pool became too small as people were disinclined to be interviewed or questioned in a public setting, and the process became too much of “popularity or beauty contest” in the opinion of the council members at that point in time.
The Mayor has few special privileges other than running the meetings of the council and making commission appointments subject to council ratification. Overall, through the past decades there has been a spirit of cooperation about the process, though councilman Gary Edwards objected to then Mayor Cook’s appointment of Robert Coleman to the Planning Commission; Edwards said there were more qualified candidates available, one of whom is now Councilwoman Amy Harrington. Re-appointments have also been the prerogative of the Mayor, and of late even that has become contentious when Mayor Hundley chose not to re-appoint Ron Wellander to another term on the Planning Commission.
The meeting begins at 6:30 in the Community Meeting Room.