Can a place have soul? Logan Harvey is leaving Sonoma. While I am happy for him and wish him much success, I am sad for Sonoma. It is my belief that people make the soul of a place. Logan has cared deeply about the issues affecting all of us. So, we have lost a bit of our soul.
Then we have the soullessness of Ken and Stacy Mattson. Over the past five years they have bought 48 commercial and residential properties in the city of Sonoma and the Valley. We first heard of their views in 2019 when a now-deleted Facebook page gave us a glimpse into Stacy’s fear and loathing of gay people. Then it was revealed that along with their business partner, Tim Le Fever, they helped form, participated in, and funded anti-gay and anti-woman organizations. Many of us in the community called them out, as we felt these views and actions did not represent the soul of Sonoma.
We were told nothing more than that they wanted to have a discussion. It never happened, despite repeated requests from local news media and the public. I have personally asked several times over the last three years when this discussion was going to happen. I am still waiting.
Logan Harvey has stated that the Mattsons may just be buying property at low prices with the intention of selling when valuation goes up. This may be true, as I can see little or no improvement of these properties. The Mattsons talk a lot about what they will do with these properties, but like the supposed discussion on their social views, we have seen nothing. I would say talk is cheap, but in the case of the Mattsons, they seem to have an endless supply of money.
I asked Gary Saperstein, of Out in the Vineyards, for his views and insight. One of his comments really stood out. “They want as little publicity as possible for their dealings. I also find it interesting that they buy these businesses that they really know nothing about. They are not in hospitality yet they bought the General’s Daughter and Ramekins along with Cornerstone?! Odd… and yet here those businesses sit empty.”
In a capitalist society, those with enough money can pretty much do whatever they want. Those of us with a limited amount of money have to work together to have any financial clout. The word freedom is thrown around a lot. Many will say it is none of our business and that they have the freedom to do what they want with their money. Those of us who want the soul of Sonoma to represent fairness and inclusivity for all people, can pool our resources and simply spread the word on what the Mattsons stand for and not spend our money at their businesses. That is our bit of freedom.
The commercial tenants of Cornerstone should not be held accountable for the views and actions of the Mattsons. I just checked, there are only three retail establishments still open in Cornerstone. Going forward, many businesses may not rent from them, once they know their rent money is going to fund intolerance and injustice.