Two candidates are vying for the Novato City Council seat

Two candidates are competing in November for an open seat on Novato City Council as the city struggles to deal with a range of issues.ca

Rachel Farac, a government consultant and former planning commissioner, faces off against Andy Podshadley — owner of Trek Winery and member of the board of directors of the Downtown Novato Business Association — for the Division 2 council seat.

The seat is currently held by veteran councilor Denise Athas, who has decided not to run again this year in order to spend more time with her family.

Farac or Podshadley will join the board at a time when it is made up of a majority of new members.

The council will be tasked with guiding the city through a variety of issues, including projected budget shortfalls due to rising costs, state housing mandates, fire risk and homelessness, among others.

The council will also be responsible for deciding how to fill Mayor Eric Lucan’s vacant seat next year, whether by appointing a temporary replacement or holding a special election next year. Lucan, who served on the board for 12 years, is stepping down after being elected Marin County Supervisor earlier this year.

District 2

Farac said her experience — including starting a small business with her husband, her experience on the planning commission and her work as a consultant for the federal government — will lend itself to understanding the needs of residents and businesses as well. as well as collaboration with the other members of the council.

“I run because I generally care about the people of Novato,” Farac said. “I want to use my volunteer expertise and my professional life as well as my training. I am a mother of two and care about the families and seniors in our community.

Podshadley is a Novato native who is a member and past president of the Downtown Novato Business Association. He said his deep ties to the city as well as his understanding of business and project management have equipped him with the skills to serve as a city councillor.

“I am a strong candidate willing to commit time to serve District 2 and the community at large,” Podshadley said. “I’m not politically connected, I’m connected to the community. I am ready to work with my fellow board members and serve my community.

To address projected city budget shortfalls resulting from rising costs, Farac said regular staff budget reviews, including updates on revenue streams and city assets, are needed to better inform on the new sources of income to be sought.

“It’s about holding them accountable, meeting the deadlines for which we need these reports so that at the end of the year we have all the financial information we need so that we we can make better decisions,” she said.

Podshadley said multiple years of an unbalanced budget is unacceptable and the city needs to hold at least quarterly budget reviews. To reduce costs for the city, Podshadley said he would be interested in having the city form a nonprofit partner to undertake smaller projects.

“I would also like to rehabilitate some of our vacant properties and put them up for rent and create a program where we can have those properties that bring us income,” he said.

In response to the homelessness, Farac said she thought the city was doing a good job, but said there was room for improvement. She said continued county, city and state collaboration is needed to fund and create mental health programs, providing housing opportunities as well as work and education programs.

Podshadley said he looks forward to using county and state funds to create housing for the homeless. He said the city should also help create or promote a program, like the Homeward Bound of Marin homeless-serving nonprofit, to train young residents for trades.

For the city’s strategies to address climate change, Farac said she would support sustainability measures and cited her vote in the planning commission to recommend not approving a large gas station at Costco. She said she would like more information before deciding whether the city should ban the construction of new gas stations.

Podshadley said the climate should always remain a priority for the city. He said he uses solar power and recycled water in his business. He said he does not support the city’s enactment of a ban on new gas stations, as has been proposed by some local environmental groups, saying it encourages people to drive further and emit more fuel. greenhouse gas. .

The state requires the city of Novato to build more than 2,000 new homes between 2023 and 2031. One of the largest housing development projects to be proposed is 1,100 homes on the former Fireman’s Fund Insurance campus in Novato.

Farac said she supports the project’s proposed combination of condominiums, single-family homes and multi-family homes.

“I think it’s an opportunity here so that we can invite families and our elders can still live here,” Farac said.

Podshadley said that while he supported some of the ideas, he was concerned about the mixing of various types of housing leading to the segregation of the neighborhood into more affluent and less affluent areas. Another concern he raised was the high pressure gas line that runs under the site.

“I think there should be lots of parks and open spaces,” Podshadley said.


Constituency 2 Candidates

Rachel Farac
Age: 39
Occupation: Government consultant
Education: Masters in Public Administration, Indiana Wesleyan University; Bachelor of Science in Management, California State University Chico
Experience: former member and chairman of the Novato town planning commission; member of the Marin County Mental Health Board; advocate for Novato’s climate emergency resolution; co-founder of construction company Pristine Builders Group; flood initiatives consultant to the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Andy Podshadley
Age: 59
Occupation: Owner/Winemaker Trek Winery
Education: AA Business, College of Marin; BA in Business Administration, Sonoma State University; UC Davis Wine Certification Course
Experience: Owner of the former construction company A&J Services; former real estate agent; former district manager of Allied Domecq Wines USA; former chairman of Thrivent Financial; former board member of Mt. Cross Ministries (non-profit); member and former president of the Downtown Novato Business Association; former member of the Novato tourism committee; former high school basketball coach; Boy Scouts of America Troop Leader and Eagle Scout

Elisha A. Tilghman