Eklund, Farac work best for Novato City Council – Marin Independent Journal

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The City Council of Novato is facing a major upheaval.

Two of its longtime members, Eric Lucan and Denise Athas, are retiring. Lucan leaves the company to take the seat he won as County Supervisor and Athas resigns.

Both were strong veterans on the council.

The longest-serving veteran, Pat Eklund, is running for her ninth term but her first in a county election representing the city’s Southwest. If re-elected, she will be the only Council member with more than two years’ experience.

We didn’t always agree with Eklund or her sometimes idiosyncratic political style, but we don’t question her devotion to the city and its people. At times, she was seen as the council member committed to protecting Novato’s neighborhoods or putting her concerns on the council agenda.

Eklund faces two challengers, the strongest being Nicole Gardner, a small business owner who is running for local council for the first time. She has worked on issues of racial equality and justice as a member of the Novato Multicultural Advisory Commission and as co-chair of the county’s Race Equity Planning Committee. She also volunteered for Moms Demand Action after losing her 20-year-old daughter in a drive-by shooting in Richmond.

Her endorsements include Supervisor Judy Arnold.

The third candidate, Chris Carpiniello, general contractor, is also a political novice. Some voters may be drawn to his right-wing stances, such as calling for repeal of climate change laws, questioning the state’s housing crisis (“They all want us to be like Oakland”), and claiming it is a racial justice policy “Promote racism instead of discouraging it.”

Eklund says Novato “has a bright future” and that she wants to keep working to preserve the town’s small-town character.

While Novato has grappled with a homeless camp in Lee Gerner Park in recent years, Eklund says the dilemma isn’t because the city hasn’t done enough. “Novato has done more to address homelessness than all cities combined,” she said.

Eklund is right.

Gardner should be applauded for stepping up and running, but her résumé in local politics does not match Eklund’s, especially at a time when the veteran’s experience and knowledge is needed. Gardner, a black woman, would offer a different decision-making perspective to an all-white council. But she needs to build her local CV and we hope she gets more involved in city government and runs again.

In District 2, part of Novato’s west-central side, two candidates are vying to succeed Athas: Andy Podshadley, the owner of Trek Winery and former president of the Novato Downtown Business Association, and Rachel Farac, a former city planner commissioner and Member of County’s Mental Health Board.

It’s very tight.

Farac, a young mother, says she is running to give the council a voice for families raising school-age children.

“I’m a mother of two and I take care of the families and the elderly in our community,” she says.

Her endorsements, including Arnold and former Novato council members Susan Stompe and Amy Peele, are impressive. In dealing with homelessness, Farac says there needs to be better collaboration between state, provincial and city resources to address mental health issues and provide shelter and counseling.

Farac supports the rehabilitation of the Fireman’s Fund, which includes a mix of single-family homes and condos, as well as rentals, which she says will meet the needs of families and seniors.

Podshadley references his resume as a local business leader, as a local high school coach, and as a Boy Scout troop leader. He says he’s “connected to the community.” His local business acumen is a plus.

He also supports the re-development of the Fireman’s Fund, but says it should be designed to avoid dividing neighborhoods – more affluent and less affluent areas. He says parks and open spaces should be given plenty of space.

The IJ recommends Pat Eklund and Rachel Farac for the Nov. 8 races for Novato City Council.

Election notes for November are currently being prepared. You can find them as published at marinij.com/opinion/endorsements.

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