River areas pick nine reps for municipal advisory committee
Nine finalists were announced this week to sit on the new Lower Russian River Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) that will advise the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on river political issues.
River voters elected the winners from a field of 28 candidates hoping to serve on the new MAC, created by Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins.
“I’m super excited to be working with all of the candidates,” said Hopkins, praising “all 28 community members who put themselves out there to be one of the first representatives” on the new political advisory group.
“Running for any kind of office is stressful, scary and sometimes insane,“ said Hopkins in a media announcement, “but our candidates were incredibly impressive, passionate and fun.”
The nine MAC reps will be officially recognized next month by the Board of Supervisors and sworn in at the first MAC meeting, which has yet to be scheduled but will take place early next year, said Hopkins.
The winners, chosen by voters in their districts, are Lucy Hardcastle and Vesta Copestakes, representing the Forestville area; Jordan Lebovich and Jeniffer Wertz, representing Guerneville; Pip Marquez de la Plata representing Rio Nido; Cynthia Strecker, representing Monte Rio; Mike Nichols, representing the Cazadero-Duncans Mills area; Jeanette Dillman, representing the Pocket Canyon (Highway 116) area; and Claudia Sisomphou, representing Hacienda.
The winning candidates all talked about the importance of team spirit and finding the river’s common community voice at a candidate forum held in Guerneville last month.
“Working together as a team, that’s the key,” said Vesta Copestakes, a Forestville district resident and the election’s top vote getter.
Pocket Canyon resident Jeanette Dillman said her neighborhood for too long has been a political “no man’s land” that’s ready for “a voice at the table.”
Rio Nido district candidates also touched on the need for greater input from politically isolated and under-represented segments of the lower river. Historically, Rio Nido, for example, “has been this little hidden place,” said Rio Nido candidate Pip Marquez. With a population of 1,500, “Our little hidden community needs a voice to be heard,” said Marquez.
Total voter turnout was a little over 9.4 percent, with 8,942 ballots sent out to lower river voters, and 836 returned, according to statistics from the Fifth District Supervisor’s office.
Forestville voters cast 246 ballots; Guerneville, 190; Monte Rio, 130; Pocket Canyon, 123; Cazadero (with Duncans Mills) 61; Hacienda, 44; and Rio Nido, 42, according to the preliminary results.
The MAC will advise the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on local issues but “is not a decision-making body,” notes the county’s River MAC website. “The MAC is tasked with gathering input from the community on matters of concern such as land use, roads, public health and safety, fire protection, law enforcement and regional parks.”
The river MAC will represent roughly 13,000 people in an approximately 50-square-mile area from Forestville to Cazadero.
A separate Sonoma Coast MAC is also in the process of electing representatives.
The candidates and the number of votes they got are shown from high to low.
Vesta Copestakes: 151
Lucy Hardcastle: 106
Gary Harris (alternate): 101
Allison Bordessa Speer: 63
Iain Burnett: 36
Claudia Sismomphou: 17
Chelene Lopez (alternate): 15
Calvin Sandeen: 12
Jeanette Dillman: 35
Bruce MacDonell: 28
Marcy Cooper: 22
Crista Luedtke: 22
Angie Dillon-shore: 9
Kim Holliday: 7
Pip Marquez de la Plata: 24
John Uniack (alternate): 15
Lewis Lee Brown: 3
Jeniffer Wertz: 122
Jordan Lebovich: 82
Ron Redmon (alternate): 69
Brian Applegarth: 38
Brian Ohm: 26
Dylan Ohm: 19
Cynthia Strecker: 64
Kyra Wink (alternate): 37
Chuck Ramsey: 29
Mike Nicholls: 56
Terry Gwiazdowski (alternate): 21
Tom Walls: 4