Coffman, Harris seats on City Council up for vote in Nevada City
Two seats are up for grabs for City Council in Nevada City – the county seat of fewer than 3,000 that recently has struggled with a budget deficit and controversy over medical marijuana dispensaries.
Terms expire at the end of the year for incumbents Barbara Coffman and Sally Harris.
Coffman, a lawyer, has said she will not run again, preferring to be a one-term councilwoman.
Harris said she will announce her intentions for office closer to the Feb. 16 deadline for candidates to declare.
Candidates must file for the leadership roles at City Hall, instead of at the Nevada County Elections office. No papers will be accepted until Feb. 16, Deputy City Clerk Corey Shaver said.
Whoever is elected will join a five-member panel facing challenging times.
The city has cut spending, laid off or furloughed employees and closed City Hall one day each month to close a $200,000 shortfall.
Yet the city, where crime most frequently consists of drunk-in-public arrests on the weekends and loitering complaints, also recently received a $500,000 federal stimulus grant to hire two police officers and a police department clerk.
Largely dependent on tourism for sales tax income, Nevada City has been hurt by the recession.
Leaders were elated by the decision of Amgen Tour of California organizers to start their bicycle race in the Gold Rush town.
Another looming unknown is the fate of Grass Valley Group, another revenue mainstay that manufactures high-definition video switching equipment for the television industry.
The Group’s parent company, Paris-based media giant Thomsen SA (recently renamed Technicolor by shareholders), is reorganizing under bankruptcy protection. Thomsen put the Group up for sale last year, and a deal recently fell through.
One controversy, however, appears settled: Council members split to reject an ordinance allowing and regulating medical marijuana dispensaries after heated discussions across several months last year.
No candidates have come forward saying they would run for council – a volunteer post that receives no pay – although speculation about possible candidacies abound.
Harris was elected in 2004, served through 2008 and did not run for re-election in the 2008 primary for personal reasons.
Later that year, Councilwoman Sheila Stein resigned. Harris was appointed, then elected, to fulfill Stein’s term.
City Editor Trina Kleist contributed to this report.
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