Who’s running?

The six who’ve declared—and the big question mark— for Chico City Council

Steve Bertagna may have one Chico City Council seat in limbo, but the three others that come open this year already are spoken for—doubly so, in fact.

Mayor Andy Holcombe and Vice Mayor Ann Schwab will go for second terms in November, and Larry Wahl will seek a third. Three challengers have filed intent-to-run paperwork with the city clerk: Ali Sarsour, Mark Sorensen and Jim Walker.

Sorensen’s candidacy is no surprise: He narrowly missed a seat in 2006. That was his first bid, and he ran as part of a slate endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce; now he’s chamber chairman.

Walker figures to get support from progressive power brokers. He hasn’t run for City Council but successfully ran for the CARD board, and he’s a long-time park commissioner.

Sarsour jumped into the fray May 1. He chaired the now-defunct Parking Place Commission and is president of the Chico Area Interfaith Council. Interestingly, prominent progressives and conservatives consider him in their camps.

Among the incumbents, Schwab seems most certain for re-election and two years as the sustainability mayor. Mayorship may have raised Holcombe’s profile, but stances on several developments and the disorderly events ordinance have raised the hackles of some ‘04 supporters. Wahl, the No. 4 vote-getter in ‘00 and ‘04, has cast himself as the council’s true conservative—and played the part of contrarian.

Of course, one incumbent remains to be counted. Bertagna says he’ll announce his decision June 17. Poke him, prod him, and you’ll get a sense of what he’s thinking … at that moment, subject to change.

Chico politicos expect he won’t run. Reasons abound, namely the time council service takes away from his family and business. Also, he’s confident in City Hall leadership—Bertagna is, after all, “absolutely Dave Burkland’s biggest fan on the planet"—and acknowledges “there’s always unfinished business” when an official leaves office.

So it’s a safe bet he’s riding off into the sunset … just don’t put your money down just yet.