Gilardi to leave Cotati council
Council decides on how to go about replacing councilwoman
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By Dave Williams  January 25, 2013 12:00 am

It may have been one of the worst-kept secrets in the world of local politics, but Cotati City Councilwoman Pat Gilardi will leave the council today, Jan. 25, to take a job as district director for newly elected Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin.

Earlier this month, reports surfaced of Gorin’s offer to Gilardi, but the councilwoman steadfastly declined comment on the matter. She officially accepted the position on Jan. 14 and her first day on her new job is Monday, Jan. 28. Today also will be her last day as an advertising sales manager for the Marin Independent Journal.

 “I think I’m the right person for this job because of my 15 years of involvement between the planning commission and the city council,” Gilardi said. “I’m familiar with what goes on at local level. I think I bring qualities from that perspective. The process isn’t much different at the county level, but I will need to learn individuals of first district.”

The First District of Sonoma County encompasses the cities of Santa Rosa and Sonoma as well as unincorporated areas as far south as San Pablo Bay and east to the Napa County border.

Because of Gilardi’s departure, the Cotati City Council is faced with the decision to either hold a special election to fill the seat or to fill it by appointment. The last time a candidate was appointed to the council was in 2011, when John Dell’Osso was tabbed to fill the remaining term of Robert Coleman-Senghor, who died because of a tear in his aorta.

The council was expected to adopt a motion to select on option for filling the seat at its meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 23. Gilardi has been on the city council since she was appointed to her seat in 2000. She has served as Cotati’s mayor in 2004 and 2008, and she was vice-mayor in 2012.

Gilardi was unable to attend Wednesday night’s meeting because she was in Sonoma Valley, at the request of Gorin, to meet members of a certain committee.

She said, however, she favors the appointment process rather than a special election.

“I think it’s costly and unnecessary,” Gilardi said. “Most cities use the appointment process, and Santa Rosa’s going through it right now. I think appointing a councilperson is an effective process. If I was still sitting on the council, I’d say to put out a public notice, and I would be on the phone with people I think could help the city.”

She said she has mixed emotions about leaving the council, but she feels the timing is ideal.

“It was difficult to walk away, yet at the same time, city’s in good place,” Gilardi said. “We have a wonderful council and staff, and that made decision a lot easier for me. A good time in my life to do this. When the results of election were announced, the thought first crossed my mind, so I decided to go through the application process.”

By accepting the job with Gorin, Gilardi, 54, also will step down from her appointed position as a director of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA). Gilardi will draw an annual salary of $73,008 and will be responsible for outreach to Gorin’s constituents, scheduling and will representing the supervisor at events Gorin is unable to attend.

“Beyond being a policy expert, she also brings private sector experience and understands the challenges facing the community,” Gorin said in a press release.

As Gorin's district director, Gilardi will be paid $73,008 annually and be responsible for outreach to constituents, scheduling and representing the supervisor at events she is unable to attend.

Gilardi has been a Cotati resident since 1984 and has had an extensive involvement in the community. She is the co-founder of Cotati 4-H and a former Executive Board Officer of Sonoma County 4-H. She also is a former board member for the annual Cotati Accordion Festival, a former two-term PTA president,  and a former three-year member of the city's planning commission, and frequent volunteer at many community events.

Gilardi grew up in Marin County and attended the College of Marin. She married another Marin native, Ed Gilardi, in 1983. After living on the family dairy ranch for a short time, the couple moved to Sonoma County in 1984. They have two adult children, Marissa and Anthony.

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