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City of PetalumaCandidate for City Council

Photo of Dennis Pocekay

Dennis Pocekay

9,770 votes (14.3%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Turn over every stone looking to increase the supply of affordable and workforce housing; build it near transit hubs
  • Investigate new revenue streams in seeking fiscal sustainability for Petaluma city government
  • We want Rainier, but we need traffic relief now; we need to improve public transit and bike paths, to get cars off our roads



Profession:Physician/Professor/Community Volunteer
Substitute Teacher, Math & Science, Petaluma School District (2009–2016)
Stakeholder, Stakeholder Advisory Group, Sonoma County Climate Action 2020 — Appointed position (2013–2015)
Petaluma City Youth Commissioner, Petaluma City Youth Commission — Appointed position (2011–2013)
Physician (often Chief), Occupational Med/Orthopedic Med, TPMG, San Rafael, CA (1990–2009)
Staff Physician, Internal Med; Chair, Diagnostic Services Utilization Comm, TPMG, Santa Rosa, CA (1982–1988)
Director, Admissions/Triage/ED; Attending Physician, Nursing Home Care Unit, San Diego VAMC (1979–1982)


UC Berkeley M.P.H., Environmental Health (1989)
Creighton M.D., NA (1976)
Stanford M.S., Applied Mechanics (1972)
CalTech B.S., Engineering (1970)

Community Activities

Assistant Clinical Professor of Public Health Sciences & Internal Medicine, UCDavis School of Medicine (2011–current)
Mentor (Board 2011-14, Board Chair 2012-13, Bocce FundRaiser Chair 2012-), Mentor Me, Petaluma, CA (2010–current)
Member, Steering Committee, Petaluma Co-coordinator, North Bay Organizing Project, Santa Rosa CA (Petaluma Housing & North Bay Rapid Response subgroups) (2016–current)
Member (Director 2008-10, Education Committee 2008-15), Western Occupational & Environmental Medicine Association (1991–2016)


I was born in Richmond, CA.  While still in elementary school, my grandparents moved with the Ford Motor Co. to San Jose.  My brother and I, and a male cousin, would visit them for 2 weeks every summer.  We would inevitably end up fighting and wrestling, and my grandmother would exclaim “If you kids don’t stop it, I’m going to ship you all to Petaluma”.  Petaluma was the edge of the flat earth to my family in those days, in part because someone had to drive my great-grandmother, via ferry to Marin, to Petaluma, to buy chicks at the hatcheries, every 6 months. 


With this information as background, my wife and I moved to Sonoma County in 1982 to begin medical careers with Kaiser Permanente in Santa Rosa.  We moved to Petaluma in 1991, just prior to the birth of our daughter Gina.  My effort at this time was focused on being available to and taking excellent care of my patients, and on making Kaiser the best place to get medical care in Sonoma County.  But I was also a member of the Department of Medicine at Santa Rosa Community Hospital, taught residents, and served as Chairman of the Department in 1987.


I left Kaiser in 1988 to study Occupational and Environmental Medicine at UC Davis, and returned to Kaiser San Rafael in this specialty in 1990.  My positions there (and in Petaluma) between 1990 and my retirement in 2009 included Chief of the Department of Occupational Medicine (San Rafael and Petaluma), Physician Lead for Occupational Health and Safety Services and Disability Management (Northern California), and member of the Board of Directors of the Western Occupational and Environmental Medicine Association (WOEMA).


My political work during the years I practiced was sparse, and included work with the SF group Committee for Health Rights in Central America, and intermittent support of a variety of Single Payer proposals.  When I retired in 2009, I wanted to teach, and also to become more involved in environmental issues, as well as issues of diversity and inequity. 


As for teaching, I have taught Biology and Anatomy and Physiology at Casa Grande high school as a long-term substitute.  I have also served as Assistant Advisor to HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) students; in this capacity, I have helped them prepare for statewide competitions and advised on health careers.  At UC Davis, I taught undergraduate Introduction to Public Health between 2012 and 2017.  I am still an Assistant Clinical Professor of Public Health Sciences and Internal Medicine at UCD, and teach there approximately 2 days per month.


I also began venturing into politics after retirement.  In 2011, I was appointed by the City Council to a 2-year term on the Petaluma City Youth Commission.  I was again appointed by the Council to represent Petaluma on the Stakeholder’s Advisory Group of Sonoma County Climate Action 2020, and served from 2013-2015.  In 2014, I was nominated by Mayor Glass to fill a City Council vacancy, which was eventually filled by current council member Gabe Kearney.


Over the past 2 years, I have become increasingly active in politics, doing volunteer work on the Bernie Sanders Presidential Campaign, on passage of and access to the End of Life Option Act, on the North Bay Rapid Response Network, on Single-Payer Health Care in California, and on Just Cause Eviction in Petaluma.


I have won occasional academic and medical awards, but I am proudest of those given me by students.  I have twice been named Preceptor of the Year by medical students at the UCD student-run and free Paul Hom Asian Clinic, and I was awarded a Certificate of Honor by the UCD Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS).


Lots of folks ask how I got to medical school with an undergrad degree in engineering.  In the 1960’s, I was able to get through high school and college without ever taking Biology.  Literally the week after receiving my engineering degree, I saw the word “bioengineering” for the first time, and then decided to read a biology textbook before beginning grad school in engineering.  When I started grad school, I asked several prospective mentors if they would be willing to mentor me in a bioengineering PhD project.  They all said “if you want to do that, you should go to medical school”.  Once I got to medical school, it seemed that everyone planned to do research, and I learned that I liked taking care of patients.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Teresa Barrett, Petaluma City Councilmember & Mayoral Candidate
  • Sonoma County Democratic Party
  • Sierra Club

Organizations (11)

  • Operating Engineers Local 3
  • SEIU 1021
  • Sonoma County Conservation Action
  • Coalition for a Better Sonoma County
  • Petaluma Progressives
  • We Love Our Neighbors
  • Petaluma Tomorrow
  • Indivisible
  • Our Revolution North Bay
  • North Bay Labor Council

Elected Officials (2)

  • Julie Coombs, Santa Rosa City Councilmember & Supervisorial Candidate
  • David Glass, Petaluma Mayor

Individuals (27)

  • Dan Monte, Assembly Candidate
  • Nancy McFarland
  • David Keller, Former Petaluma City Councilmember
  • Scott Andrews
  • Margie Helm
  • Chip Atkin
  • John Mutz
  • Greg Reisinger
  • Stephen Tynan
  • Cynthia Clarkson
  • John Crowley
  • Trisha Zimmerman
  • Linda Judah
  • Martin Bennett
  • Amy Humz
  • Sam Tuttelman
  • Tonya Oarnak
  • Kamala Brown
  • Maria Perez
  • Bob McFarland
  • Carol Barickman, Nurse Mid-Wife
  • Carmen Diaz
  • George Beeler
  • Gloria McAllister
  • Charles Latham
  • Terry Iddins, MD
  • Cheryl Negrin, FNP

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

See Bernie Sanders and Robert Reich.  

We all do better when we all do better (P Wellstone).

We're all in this together (many).

Position Papers

#MeToo (I Believe Her)


Responsibilities of men toward women in this era of #MeToo.

Given what is happening with the Supreme Court appointment battle currently going on, and in light of a question posed to me during an appearance about #MeToo, I have some things to say about the role of men in this moment; they apply whether you are an aspiring City Council Member or a private citizen.  The treatment of Kavanaugh’s accuser has been reprehensible. She was victimized once as a teenager and a second victimization is taking place, right now, in front of us all, on the news. We must encourage women to tell their stories, and we must “hear” them, with respect, fairness, and humility. We must also stop to consider whether there are currently more punishments for reporting a rape than for being a rapist.


As a physician, I have worked with many more women than men, and I am better for it.  On a local level, one of my biggest concerns with respect to choosing a new manager of our hospital is that the new administration may make decisions that are not best for women, but fall in line with their own religious beliefs.   We absolutely cannot allow anything to stand in the way of a woman’s right to choose. In addition, we should support the groundswell of women running for offices and leading the Resistance. We need to nurture all our future leaders, not exclude half of them.  I respectfully tip my hat to D’Lynda Fischer and Teresa Barrett for everything they are putting into their own runs for office.


Women live and breathe the smaller day to day indignities that most males rarely think about.  I’ve never dealt with the humiliation of someone telling me I would look prettier if I smiled (at least until I ran for office).  Most of us know that women in conversation are interrupted more often than men. And though I have been physically assaulted once, no one asked what I was wearing.  I don’t think I have ever seriously said “boys will be boys”, because it means over half of the population has to put up with being treated poorly, and it gives men a pass to act inappropriately.  And what are the effects, on our high school aged daughters, of seeing adults let men off the hook, while shaming our women’s dress and behavior. These experiences mold and shape women in a way that, as a man, I can never fully understand.  What I can do is be more aware of how women are treated, call out boorish behavior, offer a “wait, let her finish” when needed and not let other men think my silence is approval. In fact, because I know I have failed on this in the past, let me pledge to call out boorish behavior in the future, even when no woman is present to experience it.


No matter how the campaign ends, it’s clear that there is no going back to ignorance and acceptance of the status quo.  Women are saying “Enough!” and we men should respect and applaud the moment. Women should be confident in the knowledge that they have allies; this is the minimum they should expect from us.  And given the esteem I have for the women in my wife, my daughter, all the women who helped me to care for people and all the other women who taught and re-taught me how they wished to be treated, I promise to deliver nothing less.  

Let's Talk Issues


This paper covers my take on the issues of affordable housing, government transparency, and traffic.

When I first got into this race, it was disappointing to hear the advice that I shouldn’t highlight issues and try to propose solutions.  By doing that, I might offend someone and lose their vote. This led me to ask myself, then what’s the point? And what voter wants to vote for someone without knowing a candidate’s guiding principles?  That’s like waiting until after you’ve given someone a job to conduct an interview. Well, that just doesn’t sit well with me.

I am proud of what I stand for and am not afraid to say what that means.  We’ve encouraged you to speak to your friends and neighbors about my campaign.  Today, I’d like to encourage you to discuss the issues that would drive my voting on the CIty Council.

Affordable Housing:  Housing that is affordable for those with incomes below the area median.

  • 15% of units in market rate developments should be affordable

  • Extend the emergency 10% cap on rents beyond 12/4/18

  • I pledge to pass a Just Cause Eviction ordinance

  • Prepare for a growing population with smart development, centered around transit hubs

  • Fund more affordable housing by raising the TOT to 14%

  • Pass an affordable housing bond measure, $250 per year for 10 years, for a home assessed at 1 million dollars

Transparency & Government Efficiency:  Petalumans demand that information important to city government not be withheld from them, except when absolutely necessary.  

  • Not every issue that MAY be discussed in closed session, MUST be discussed in closed session

  • The Council should not repeatedly “kick the can” down the road 6 months, simply to avoid embarrassment, or in the hope that a decision will become easier over time

  • Residents need to know where the council is headed with respect to the fairgrounds

Traffic Stress:  Long commutes and time spent in traffic can lead to impatience, resentment, and anger, as well as stress, decreased exercise, obesity, and hypertension.

  • Do not repeal SB 1 (gas tax)

  • Increased use of traffic engineering principles, including timing of stoplights

  • Improve public transit

  • Revisit ride-sharing, for around-town errands as well as commuting

  • Improve bike paths and safety

These are just a small number of the issues that continue to come up in conversations with neighbors and fellow citizens.  In future emails I’ll expand my thoughts on more of the issues that face us here in Petaluma.


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