New council member Don Williams and incumbent Gary Kraus were sworn in at a Calistoga City Council meeting Tuesday, with Williams immediately offering a different opinion than the council has seen for several years.
Williams took a wide lead early on in the November election to win one of two open city council seats with 1,217 votes.
Though initially tied in a very close race for the second seat, Kraus finished with 708 votes to fellow incumbent Jim Barnes’ 671 votes. This will be Kraus’s fourth term.
Incumbent Mayor Chris Canning also won in the election, after running unopposed.
Williams and Kraus will serve for four years, Canning for two more.
Outgoing councilmember Barnes was given a proclamation for his six years on the city council and as a key volunteer in the community. He was thanked for his efforts including work and maintenance to the Veteran’s Memorial, and contributing his financial expertise.
During the city council election campaign, Williams called for slower growth and less development for the town. He most recently spoke in favor of a smaller project than the planning commission approved for a 78-unit apartment complex on Lincoln Avenue.
At Tuesday’s meeting Williams was the sole dissenting vote on two motions. The first one called for the city to spend $30,000 for a study on a city improvement project to put in a pedestrian crosswalk on Silverado Trail between Solage Calistoga and the Silver Rose resort project across the street. While City Manager Dylan Feik explained the two resorts will most likely fund the actual project, Williams objected to the city picking up the cost of the study. The measure passed 4-1.
Williams was also the sole dissenting vote to approve a “parklet”, or moveable platform park, near Washington Street and Lincoln Avenue. Mayor Chris Canning said that parklets are very common in cities like San Francisco. Vice Mayor Michael Dunsford added that “We’re in a competitive industry and it’s important to invest in and improve the downtown area.”
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Construction cost is estimated to be $25,000.
Williams argued that “This is an easily walkable town,” and with issues like high water rates, the money could be better spent. The measure passed 4-1.
Other measures that passed unanimously included a new electrical vehicle charging station at the fire station adjacent to the Post Office, off of Gerrard Street. This will allow using power from the Fire Station and avoid the expense of a new service drop from PG&E.
Also approved were repairs to the recycled water irrigation pump station on lower Washington Street; authorization for the purchase of new replacement vehicles for FY 2018-2019; and renewal of dental plan benefits for city employees.
The council also selected Michael Dunsford to continue in the position of vice mayor. Williams had suggested that fellow council members Kraus or Irais Lopez-Ortega take the position, but both declined.
Williams also objected to the re-appointments of Paul Coates and Scott Cooper to the planning commission, saying there is an impression that “a small group of folks run the town, are in charge and make the decisions,” and called for new members Douglas Allan and Sean Behrens.
Williams was overridden by a vote of 4-1.
Also at the meeting, City Clerk Kathy Flamson was honored with a proclamation for her years of service to the community. Flamson started working for the city in 2013 as executive secretary and worked her way up to city clerk. This was her last city council meeting as she will be retiring at the end of the year.
Mayor Canning also declared Dec. 31 Kathy Flamson Day in Calistoga.