Jill Techel’s lengthy run as Napa mayor will end next year – and one of those hoping to succeed her will come from two seats away at City Hall.
Two-term Councilmember Scott Sedgley on Tuesday confirmed his candidacy in the 2020 mayoral race, on the same day Techel announced she will leave the post at the end of the current four-year term, her fourth.
Another member of the Napa council is leaving the door open for a run at the mayor’s chair. Doris Gentry, who was elected to the council in 2016, said Thursday she is “researching all the avenues” for a 2020 campaign but has not yet decided whether to run against Sedgley.
Sedgley, who was first elected to the City Council in 2012, said he decided to run for mayor shortly after the Nov. 6 elections, following talks with Techel and a promise of her support.
“Our current City Council is relatively new, I’m a senior council member, and think I would be a good choice to fill that role as we move into the next four years,” he said of his experience on a body that has gained three new members in the last two elections – including Liz Alessio and Mary Luros in November.
“It’s still two years away, but I thought I should let the community know that I’m willing to take on that responsibility and do it to best of my ability,” Sedgley said.
“It does seem early (to declare),” Sedgley said, “but that’s the reality of today’s climate: You make your wishes known and you start working toward that goal.”
He said he consulted the mayors of Napa County’s other four cities before making his candidacy public.
If chosen as mayor, Sedgley said he could better serve Napa as an advocate for the city’s interests in developing regional solutions to traffic congestion and housing shortages across the county and Bay Area – as well as for increased protection of the woodlands surrounding the city’s two water sources, Lake Hennessey and Milliken Reservoir.
Techel, meanwhile, decided Napa’s recovery from the 2014 earthquake had progressed far enough for her to leave behind her City Hall career, which has lasted more than two decades and began with two council terms before she was first elected mayor in 2004.
“We were just getting over the quake and I felt staying on another four years could ensure we get ourselves back on our feet,” she said of the 2016 race, in which she ran unopposed. “There actually was a lovely community feeling that we could do it together that motivated me in 2016 to stay and make it all happen.”
By running for mayor instead of another term as a council member, Sedgley will open a potential seat for a newcomer to political office – a development also supported by Techel in light of the new candidates who ran for office in 2018. Alessio won a council seat in her first electoral campaign, and the field included three contenders younger than 40 – Luros, who was returned to the council after serving for 22 months in 2015-16; Bernie Narvaez; and Ricky Hurtado.
“Scott’s wanting to do this, he’s been around, he knows people and I’m very confident he will be a great leader,” Techel said. “It also frees a spot on the council, and we see there’s energy for the next generation of leaders to come forward. Sometimes it’s just the right time to step aside and let that happen.”
Although Gentry was not on last fall’s ballot, state-required Form 460 finance reports show her campaign organization – currently named Friends of Doris Gentry for City Council 2020 – collected $42,075 in donations from Oct. 21 to Dec. 31, more than at least four of the six contenders in the November council race.
Updated reports for Narvaez and James Hinton had not been filed as of noon on Thursday, when the deadline for the filing period was at 5 p.m.
“After the last election, I can see cost of everything radically increasing,” Gentry said Thursday. “Whatever I run for, I need a strong nest egg to achieve it. I want to be in a sound position to be successful.”