North Bay leaders to tackle fire-recovery strategies

Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane (PD FILE)

NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL , NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

On Nov. 16, North Bay Business Journal will host a conference focused on fire-recovery efforts in the North Bay.

The Impact Project: Rebuild conference, to be held from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country hotel in Santa Rosa, represents a new fire-recovery focus of the Journal’s Impact Sonoma event that had been in the planning for several months.

The event will also include an update on the launch of SMART commuter rail service from SMART General Manager Farhad Mansourian.

Also presenting will be state Senators Mike McGuire and Bill Dodd, as well the chairs of the boards of supervisors in Sonoma and Napa counties, Shirlee Zane and Belia Ramos, respectively.

A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales and sponsorships will go to the North Bay Fire Relief Fund.

“This is an opportunity for business leaders to hear the latest information on these early stages of the fire recovery and to pull together as a community,” said Journal Publisher Brad Bollinger. “No one is under any illusions about how long this is going to take. But hearing about what’s happening now and in the planning stages will give us hope that we are moving forward.”

Here are biographies of the presenters:

Bill Dodd

State Senator, Third District

Elected in November of 2016 to represent California’s 3rd Senate District, Dodd is a fifth generation Californian and lifelong resident of the district, where he grew up on a small family farm in Napa County. California’s 3rd State Senate District includes all of Napa and Solano Counties, along with portions of Sonoma, Yolo, Contra Costa, and Sacramento Counties.

Prior to his election to the State Senate, Dodd represented the 4th Assembly District. In the Assembly, Dodd helped establish the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, promote career technical education, and create the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument – preserving over 330,000 acres of the California Coast Ranges in Napa, Yolo, Solano, Lake, Colusa, Glenn and Mendocino counties.

Prior to his election to the Assembly, Dodd served on the Napa County Board of Supervisors for 14 years. His accomplishments included the completion of Napa’s flood control project, which protects thousands of properties from flooding, restored 900 acres of environmental wetlands and produced $1 billion of investment in local businesses.

Prior to his time in elected office, Dodd owned and operated one of the largest full-service Culligan Water ope rations in California, and served as president of the water quality industry’s state and national trade associations. Heis a graduate of California State University, Chico.

Mike McGuire

State Senator, Second District

McGuire is a third generation Northern Californian, whose family farmed prunes and grapes in the Alexander Valley for nearly a half century. Raised by his mom and grandma, McGuire worked in the radio and television industries.

McGuire was first elected to the Healdsburg School Board when he was 19, one of Northern California’s youngest school board presidents.

In 2004, McGuire was elected to the Healdsburg City Council (he was the city’s youngest mayor).

In 2010 – during the depth of the recession – McGuire was elected to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. His office lists his accomplishments as helping to lead efforts that turned years of deficits into a multi-million dollar surplus and brought forward the county’s economic recovery and jobs plan that made Sonoma County one of top counties in job growth in California.

McGuire’s further accomplishments include investing historic levels – $160 million – in local roads, bridges and highways. He has been a champion for strong public schools, including co-founding the Career Technology Education Foundation that has invested over $1 million in career training classes in local high schools, according to his biography.

McGuire has always been a tireless advocate for our environment attended Santa Rosa Junior College and graduated from Sonoma State University.

Belia Ramos

Napa County Board of Supervisors Chair, District 5 representative

Ramos, who lives in American Canyon, was born in Napa and raised in St. Helena and Pope Valley. She calls all of Napa County home.

Ramos is a business owner, professor of law and a community advocate.

She attended St. Helena public schools from kindergarten through high school. She graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California in 1999 and UC Hastings College of the Law in 2004. Upon her admission to the State Bar of California, Ramos worked as a civil litigator and employment counselor, advising Fortune 500 companies on labor and employment policies and procedures.

In 2008, Ramos founded Raise The Bar, LLC, a writing company that prepares applicants for the California Bar Exam. She has been a bar tutor since 2006. Prior to that, Ramos served as a grader for the California Bar Exam. She also teaches writing at the University of California Davis School of Law. In 2012, Governor Brown appointed Ramos to the 25th District Agricultural Association, known as the Napa Valley Expo/Town & Country Fair.

From 2010-2016, Belia served as a member of the American Canyon City Council, where she focused on transportation, economic development, public art, public safety and community engagement. Her community involvement includes the incorporation and governance of nonprofit organizations, such as Napa Valley Crime Stoppers and others.

Belia resides in American Canyon with her three children.

Shirlee Zane

Sonoma County Board of Supervisor, District 3 representative

Zane was first elected in 2008. Prior to taking office, Zane served as the CEO of Sonoma County’s Council on Aging , a private nonprofit corporation that provides services for seniors countywide.

According to her county biography, Zane launched a Behavioral Health Mobile Support Team to assist law enforcement on 911 mental health and substance abuse calls. She has worked closely with the district attorney and community providers to open and fund the first Family Justice Center to provide wraparound services to victims of domestic abuse.

She serves as vice chair of the Aging Subcommittee on the Human Services and Education Steering Committee for the National Association of Counties (NACo).

Zane is also a director for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transport (SMART) and the Sonoma County Transportation Authority/Regional Climate Protection Authority.

Zane provides direction for the County in addressing solid waste issues. She Chaired the Solid Waste Advisory Group and serves as a Director for the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency .

Zane has more than 25 years of experience working in health and human services as a family therapist, minister, hospital chaplain, special education educator, and inner city social worker. She holds a masters in theology from Chicago Trinity Divinity School and an masters in family counseling from Sonoma State University.

Ms. Zane is a fluent Spanish speaker and has worked abroad in Caracas, Venezuela. She has served on a number of boards and commissions, including the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Elderly and Disabled Advisory Committee.

Chris Coursey

Mayor, City of Santa Rosa

Coursey was a longtime reporter and columnist for The Press Democrat, after previously working as a journalist in Colorado. At the Press Democrat, he covered crime, government and politics, and chronicled major events. In 1999, he began writing a news column that focused on the issues and concerns of Sonoma County residents.

He left the paper in 2007 to become spokesman for the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit district. He left that position in 2011.

Coursey ran for council in 2014, vowing to be an independent voice on the council, and was easily the top vote-getter, winning 19.6 percent of the vote compared to 15.4 for John Sawyer and 15.1 percent for Schwedhelm.

The son of a military officer, Coursey attended six different schools by the time he graduated from Regis Jesuit High School in Denver, Colo. When he came to Santa Rosa at the age of 25, he had lived in 12 cities and five states.

His campaign biography states that Coursey married and had two children. After he divorced, he raised the children as a single dad. Married again in 1993, Coursey and his wife Theresa, blended their two families. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and died in 2010, the biography reported. Coursey established a freelance writing and public relations business.

Farhad Mansourian

General Manager, Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) District

Mansourian oversees a district with a $30 million budget and 180 employees.

Earlier this year, the district launched operation of the SMART train, a commuter rail line between Santa Rosa and San Rafael.

The $600 million transit system was 15 years in the making. California’s Legislature created SMART in 2002 and Marin and Sonoma county voters in 2008 approved a quarter-cent sales tax to subsidize the rail service. SMART began restoring the moth-balled Northwestern Pacific rail line in 2012.

The line was created to provide commuters some relief from the congestion on Highway 101. Eventually, the line has been planned to extend from Cloverdale to Larkspur.