I have received an answer from the Sonoma County Counsel’s office regarding why members to the proposed Springs Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) should be appointed and not elected. At a community meeting October 3, the issue came up, as half the MACs in California are elected. Supervisor Gorin said it was because the county counsel told the Board of Supervisors not to have elections, but she wouldn’t explain the reasoning when asked about the county counsel’s opinion.
I received from the county counsel a copy of the “Sonoma County Municipal Advisory Council Recommended Policies and Procedures” that his office and the county administrator’s office presented to the supervisors at a regular Board meeting in July 2017, and which the board adopted. It contains a simple explanation: “Membership by appointment is recommended because it reduces the likelihood of unfilled positions, costs, and procedural concerns.”
Furthermore, there was an article in the October 20 Santa Rosa Press Democrat about the two MACs being established in the west county. The article describes how west county residents have been provided a community engagement process over the past year to design their MACs, and are being allowed a direct voice in deciding who should be on them. This hasn’t occurred in the Springs. Instead, selected individuals were invited to participate.
I attended the October 3 community meeting believing it was to be an opportunity to give input into the how, what, who, etc. of the Springs MAC. Instead, it was a meeting to tell us how it was going to be. No input was sought, just questions, not all of which got answered. Supervisor Gorin also informed us she would be appointing the MAC members, and would ask “a couple people to help her.” Residents would apply to be appointed to the seven-member council.
The Springs MAC isn’t a done deal yet, as the Board of Supervisors must still approve its by-laws, which Supervisor Gorin is drafting. There’s time for Springs’ residents to take action to have a municipal advisory council that truly is the voice of the Springs. Write Supervisor Gorin and tell her you want included in the by-laws language directing there be an inclusive and transparent public engagement process for appointing MAC members. Language of this nature was approved for the west county MACs’ by-laws. Copy the other supervisors, since they will be approving the by-laws.
I was involved when the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission and later the Springs Redevelopment Advisory Commission were created. Both involved public processes with meetings that anyone could attend and give input. The exclusive manner in which the Springs MAC is being created is unprecedented for our community.
— Gina Cuclis, Boyes Hot Springs