Sonoma’s new mayor

Tom Rouse, elected to the Sonoma City Council in 2010, is the new mayor of Sonoma.

In the annual rotation of councilmembers, Rouse, the vice mayor, was unanimously voted mayor by his peers. David Cook is the new vice mayor, also by a 5-0 vote.

“I’m excited to be Sonoma’s mayor,” said Rouse, who replaces Ken Brown in the largely ceremonial post for a one-year term.

Rouse said he was very proud to be a fourth-generation public servant. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather all held public office, he said. “I’m sure they’re looking down with a big smile,” he said. “For that, I’m very grateful.”

As mayor, Rouse said he would stress a unified effort to keep Sonoma fiscally strong. The city endured a bad economy and the loss of redevelopment funds, he said, and is now divided over Measure B. “We need to rebuild consensus, mend friendships and move on,” he said. “It’s time to get back to the business of the city.”

Rouse said he would seek efficiencies to shorten council meetings. “It’s not about listening to ourselves speak,” he said. Meetings could be combined, or, if there is no pressing business, perhaps skipped entirely.

Among his many thanks to friends, family and supporters, Rouse noted Brown for his tutelage and friendship, and his wife Michelle. “She’s the rock, the brains,” he said.

The December 2 meeting was not without a bit of intrigue.

Councilmember Steve Barbose nominated Laurie Gallian for the vice mayor slot. After Gallian declined the nomination “for professional reasons,” Brown nominated Cook. Babose then joined in the unanimous vote.

Yet Barbose said he still had an issue with public comments made by Brown at the hospital opening reception on November 16. At the event, Brown referred to fellow guests Tom Rouse and David Cook as Sonoma’s next mayor and next vice mayor. Barbose said the statement suggested that a prior agreement was in place, an arrangement that would violate the state’s Brown act that bars elected officials from discussing city business outside of public meetings.

Barbose said that Ken Brown should therefore remove himself from the mayoral decision. Brown, denying any deal-making, said he was merely offering an opinion, and would not recuse himself. City Attorney Jeff Walter agreed

“I still have an issue with this,” Barbose said Monday night. “I support (Rouse and Cook) but I don’t like how we got here.”

In closing out his third stint as mayor, Brown said “It’s my honor and pleasure to be an elected official in Sonoma. There’s no better place on earthy to serve.”

Rouse, Brown and Barbose are all up for reelection in 2014.

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