Substance still counts

With the end of the campaign season almost here, I wanted to say three special THANK YOUs.  First, to my family, particularly my wife Lauren Parnes, for their daily support of my campaign.  Another to Healdsburg, for reminding us that the BEST politics are local.  When voters are offered a thoughtful candidate who listens well and clearly cares about his community, they will give back - with heartfelt words of encouragement, infectious enthusiasm, hours of their personal time, significant amounts of their hard-earned money... and their votes.  And finally, to veterans, who have given so much of themselves to defend this flawed but precious experiment that we call our country.  Respect their investment by exercising your right to vote.

One of the most pleasant benefits of running for office is hearing folks say really nice things about you in public. I have published samples from the various Letters to the Editor of the Healdsburg Tribune here

For those of you in town, don't forget to stop by Kinsmoke tomorrow after 7:30 to say hello!

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Ideas from the Handlebars

Last Sunday (10/23) I led a group of eager bicycling enthusiasts around town to brainstorm ideas for improving Healdsburg's bike friendliness.  So many great suggestions came up!  I'll do my best to distill them into a quick but meaningful summary.

Improving bike friendliness has many benefits


Reduce parking demand

  • Coordinate with other transportation initiatives to provide effective alternatives to private cars
  • Identify and target significant sources of demand for downtown parking
    • Car rentals from STS (Sonoma County Airport)
    • SoFi and other downtown employers
    • Out of town visitors
    • …?
  • Establish semi-public “Uber Pool” shuttle
    • Fixed pick-up spots at STS, Smart terminal, park & ride
    • Variable on-demand destinations can be anywhere within city limits
    • Subsidized by hotels, major employers, city
  • Create a series of bike or car share lots downtown
    • If visitors can somehow get here without a car, they can use bike or car share to get around - no need to rent a car
    • Residents can use it as an alternative to 2nd car - save high-density parking requirements
  • Partner with self-driving startups / initiatives?

Serve unique transportation needs

  • Day laborers who can't afford a car
  • In-town employees who might not need to drive to work every day
  • Out-of-town employees who commute into town
  • Residents who want to ride for leisure or errands
  • Bay Area visitors who are likely to bring their own car
  • Long-distance visitors who are likely to be renting a car
  • …?


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One Strategy to Address the Parking Problem

Summit, NJ - Population 21,000 - spends $167,000 for free or nearly free Uber rides for its citizens.  Cheaper than a parking lot!

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Joe's Comments from the Candidate's Forum

On September 27, Joe Naujokas participated in the City Council candidate's forum and made a great case for his election!  Here are Joe's opening and closing statements (he delivered abridged version of these prepared remarks). Also here below are some of his contributions to the housing debate that move beyond the Measure R (and current GMO) ordinance.


Thank you all for being here.

I have lived in Healdsburg for the past 23 years. In that time I have seen many changes. I’ve seen changes in myself - I built a career, got married and raised two boys here; and I’ve seen many changes to Healdsburg, now that the world has discovered our “little secret.” I think Healdsburg and I are both generally better off as a result.

However over the last few years I have seen a sharp change in the substance of our growth. Many of us agree that we are losing our “small town feel.”  What exactly does that mean? I have my thoughts on that. For now let me just say this: It’s not too late to keep the Healdsburg spirit alive, but it will take ALL of us to do it.

As a City Councilmember I will play my part by focusing on three goals:

*Expanding access to housing that is compatible with our small-town values and is affordable for a diversity of incomes
*Re-focusing the Plaza and downtown businesses to serve residents and not just tourists - which means first and foremost solving the parking problem
*Expanding opportunities for all residents to enjoy each other's company and make a valuable contribution to the community

I am looking forward to sharing more of my thoughts during our conversation tonight.


On the campaign trail I have heard many different definitions of a place that has “small town feel” - a good place to raise a family, a place where people smile at strangers on the street… Even: “A place that doesn’t have roundabouts!”

I think we can all agree on this: Healdsburg is more than a tourist destination. It is more than a real estate market or a place to be seen. It is a place where thousands of people for hundreds of generations (way before Harmon Heald came) have chosen to call home.

As a home it should be a place where each member of its family feels like they matter. Where visitors feel welcome but also are respectful of their hosts. Where its members help each other to thrive, but not at the expense of their neighbors.

I know we all love Healdsburg - after all, that’s why we’re here. And I know that we CAN keep the spirit of Healdsburg alive. It will take a lot of hard work from a lot of different people - especially voters like you. As for me, I’m ready to do my part by serving on the City Council.

I will invigorate the Council with fresh ideas, independent thinking, hard work and compassion. I will engage with everyone who is willing to work creatively toward a bright, fair, and thriving future for Healdsburg. I will do this because I care.

So vote for Joe. Vote for a Healdsburg for Everyone.



What else besides Measure R will improve our housing situation?

* Use the proceeds from the TOT Affordable Housing tax to fund an “Affordable Housing Czar” position whose directive is to
Secure affordable housing contracts that address Healdsburg's needs and are consistent with its values.
*Monitor and shut down illegal vacation rentals
*Identify zoning and related strategies to
increase the number of affordable units
* Address the excessive number of unoccupied homes in Healdsburg (non-primary vacation homes, VRBO's etc.)
* Stem the tide of loss for affordable housing we already have.
* Limit permits for improvements that push rental properties into a higher price category (from "affordable" to "luxury”).
* Study other tourist communities in California and elsewhere to identify their successes and failures with providing for affordable housing and preserving liveability for residents.
* Give teeth to the Rental Advisory - Develop a Good Landlord Scorecard that publicly rates landlords according to the guidelines set forward by the Rental Advisory.
* Investigate the conversion of Healdsburg’s legal organization from a General Law City to a Charter City
* Begin the conversation of converting the Rental Advisory into an Ordinance.
* Identify other aspects of city government (Electric? Water/Sewer? Police/Fire?) that could benefit from a Charter organization.

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A Watershed Moment for Healdsburg

"Watershed." This weekend I was thinking about both interpretations of this word and its meaning for the future of Healdsburg.

tmnt_trash_375w.jpgHere's how Lord Google defines it:

  1. An area or region drained by a river, river system, or other body of water.
  2. An event or period marking a turning point in a course of action or state of affairs.

As we know, Foss Creek runs through the heart of Healdsburg and is part of the Russian River watershed.  This Saturday I experienced a kind of "watershed moment" by participating in the annual Foss Creek cleanup sponsored by the City of Healdsburg.  That's a picture of me holding one of the "treasures" I found - Yes, that's a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan, and yes it still worked.

As always the cleanup was a showcase moment of civic participation, where government, service groups like Kiwanis and Sunrise Rotary, social organizations like the Healdsburg Community Church and the Cub Scouts, and individuals like myself all join forces to make a difference in their community.  We removed hundreds of pounds of trash from the Russian River watershed that might otherwise have made its way into the river and potentially all the way to the Pacific trash vortex.  Nice work Healdsburg!

I feel that Healdsburg itself is currently facing a watershed moment of its own.  We are like that proverbial drop of water falling from the sky over the Mayacamas mountains, whose ultimate destiny is determined by which side of the ridge we fall upon.  Do we flow down the eastern slopes to the Napa River, or down the Sonoma side to the Russian River? 

Fortunately, unlike the drop of water whose direction is determined almost entirely by external forces, as a community we can exercise some degree of choice.  We can apply our collective will to counterbalance the forces of markets, regulations and economics toward the direction we want our town to go.

The question is, which watershed would we choose?  What is the future that we want for Healdsburg? 

I think we all agree that what we love and want to preserve about Healdsburg is its "small town feel."  But how we define that term is a very interesting question that will help guide us in the choices we make for our future.

I have some thoughts about that question... but enough for now.  It's time to get ready for my day job.


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What Makes Joe Different?

One of my jobs as Campaign Manager is to say things about Joe that he won't say about himself!

At our August 28 kickoff event, many came to find out first-hand what they have already been hearing. Joe is approachable and he's eager to talk and listen. The gears are always turning with this guy and he delights in bringing fresh ideas and insights into the conversation. His thinking is systematic and penetrating but always anchored in a "people first" ethic. His reputation for thoughtfulness, friendliness, and hard work is well known to his acquaintances and it's now spreading through the town like a happy rumor!

Still, he's not afraid to take a hard stand on a contentious issue. When I reported to him that a few of the 'old guard' were unhappy with his recent letter to the Tribune, he responded, "I don't mind losing an election over a position I believe in". Doing the right thing comes first. Which is partially why his campaign focuses so heavily on boldly addressing the housing crisis that is threatening so many of our neighbors. His leadership on this issue is desperately needed.

 At our recent event, Joe put up a large sheet of paper onto which people could write their answer to the question "What does 'small town feel' mean to you?" .With this question, Joe is getting to the core of what is troubling most of us. Most City Council candidates will explain why they are running by professing that they love our town. We all do. Easy. But Joe's motivation is more urgent and it requires him to dig deep. This is his greatest asset, in my opinion.

 It's an important election, and Joe is an inspiring candidate who is uniquely qualified to take our town in a direction we can all be proud of. We are lucky to have Joe's commitment, compassion, and intelligence on the ballot.

Chris Herrod -Campaign Manager

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The Measure R choice is about trust, not housing

By far the hottest topic of this election will be Measure R.  However I believe the fundamental issue is not the approval or rejection of some ballot language.  The real unspoken YES or NO question is this:  Do we trust our city leadership to do the right thing?

I remember not long ago the City Council chambers were overrun by residents demanding that the Council take action about the high prices of housing - prices driven by unrelenting demand and a short if not dwindling supply.  “Do something!” was the desperate plea.

After thousands of hours of collective effort spent by city staff, a special Housing Committee, and the community itself, the Council decided to propose the biggest “something” it could do - something it knew full well was going to be explosively controversial and potentially a political career killer for its members: replace the GMO with a series of rules overseen mostly by the Council.

With the GMO as is, we know we’ll see more of the same:  More hotels, maybe a smattering of low-income housing, rising rents and housing prices, and almost certainly zero housing for middle-income earners.  What happens to the Nu Forest property will be a poignant front-and-center example of that status quo.

Under the proposed GMO replacement provisions, the city will clearly have tremendous power to negotiate with housing developers.  But as Spiderman’s Uncle Ben says, with great power comes great responsibility.  Therefore the essential question for a post-GMO world is this:  Do we believe that our city leadership will fulfill its responsibility to the community when evaluating housing development proposals?

I know the Council’s proposal isn’t perfect - but I also understand the complexities of the issues and I feel it is a pretty darn good compromise between profit and people.  The Executive Director of the Housing Land Trust of Sonoma County even called the Housing Action Plan component "phenomenal."  But most importantly I believe the status quo is unacceptable.

Our choice is not a simple YES or NO on the GMO, but on the fundamental question of whether we trust the leaders whom we vote into power.  If we don’t, then it’s time to begin an entirely different conversation.  

I say let’s give the Council’s plan a shot, and give our elected leaders the faith that they deserve.

And in the meantime, let's focus on electing the right leaders.  Vote for a Healdsburg for Everyone.  Vote Joe.


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