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Fire safety at Oakmont a key issue - Dianna MacDonald to fill Tibbetts’s SR council seat

Dianna MacDonald to fill Tibbetts’s SR council seat


Fire safety at Oakmont a key issue Dianna MacDonald to fill Tibbetts’s SR council seat

By Chris Rooney

Among six applicants, Dianna MacDonald was selected in February by the Santa Rosa City Council to fill the District 3 vacancy created when former Councilman Jack Tibbetts abruptly stepped down two month ago.

The Skyhawk resident has already been sworn in and, as an appointee, will represent the eastern Santa Rosa district until a permanent replacement is elected in the November election.

Already in tune with the machinations of local government, Mac-Donald said she could “jump on the horse while it’s running.” She expected a smooth transition because she felt Santa Rosa’s leadership is a “high-functioning council.”

MacDonald serves on the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women, through which she forged a relationship with Susan Gorin, who represents the First District, including Sonoma Valley, on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. MacDonald also served on the California School Boards Association Delegate Assembly and Creative Sonoma Advocacy team, and is a director on the board of the Rincon Valley Education Foundation and the co-chair of the California State Literacy Task Force.

MacDonald said she expected her relationship with local schools will assist her in attaining educational goals. Housing, a General Plan update, homelessness, and COVID-19 recovery are among the issues she expects to address while in office.

A subject that will most resonate with Oakmont and nearby residents is MacDonald’s drive to boost fire prevention and preparedness. Oakmont very narrowly avoided disaster in two significant fires.

“Oakmont [residents are] well versed and well researched,” MacDonald said, noting the senior community, with a vulnerable constituency, has just two roadways into the large housing tract. She has already set up an appointment with firefighters and safety officials to look into making the area safer should disaster strike again.

While she doesn’t have a lot of firsthand experience working with the Santa Rosa City Council, MacDonald said her public service over the years has had her working within “similar circles.” MacDonald said she has, on occasion, thought about running for office but “Tibbetts did a good job,” and she felt no need to step in. “It was in the back of my mind,” she said. She credited Tibbetts for being “extremely encouraging” of her decision to take his spot on the council.

Like most local and county leaders, MacDonald is faced with the conflicting crises of housing and limited resources. “Everything comes with a balance,” she said, adding that Santa Rosa may need to look at annexation to increase resource availability to balance increases in housing.

“It’s a precious resource,” Mac-Donald said of water. “This council is thoughtful on that.”

MacDonald said she “needs to hear from the public” and take in new ideas to balance the region’s needs. “Nothing comes cheap,” she said. “Nothing is free.”

According to press materials from the City of Santa Rosa, MacDonald is a fourth-generation Sonoma County resident, having lived 40 total years in Santa Rosa and more than 50 years in Sonoma County.

“I am diligent and ready to serve this council and this community,” she said during her interview with the Kenwood Press. “Our mission is to provide high-quality public services, and to cultivate a vibrant, resilient, and livable city. My goal is to help implement the mission for Santa Rosa to be a safe and affordable place to live, and a leader in the North Bay.”

MacDonald is part-owner of North Bay Commercial Services. She served as president of the California State PTA (CSPTA) from 2017 to 2019 and is currently serving as the legislative advocate for CSPTA, where she has sat on committees for finance, arts, and diversity, equity, and inclusion, among others.

As MacDonald’s term is temporary, the filing period for candidates to be duly elected opens July 18, and the seat will be on the November ballot. The elected representative will serve what’s left of Tibbetts’ term, expiring in December of 2024.

Less than a month on the job, MacDonald said she couldn’t say for sure if she would want to run a full campaign and turn her appointment into an elected position.

“I have to get out into the community and get some feedback,” she said.