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City of PetalumaCandidate for City Council

Photo of Kevin McDonnell

Kevin McDonnell

Civil Engineer
11,110 votes (16.2%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • HOusing Policy - Housing Policy is everything - it is affordablity; it is availablility; it is environmental sustainability and health
  • Transportation - People connect transpofrtation is cars and traffic; that is only part of the subject. We must encourage and incentize alternatives to car. But we cannot ignore ts. We must grow with biking and walking as prime transportation modes
  • City Finances



My Background

I was born and raised in San Francisco.  Being the second oldest of ten brothers and sisters was formative to who I am; being responsible is second nature – I was writing checks at the grocery store when I was ten!

My wife, Melissa Hatheway, and I realized even back then that Petaluma was the best place to raise a family. We moved into our Petaluma home on Super Bowl weekend 1985.  We’ve raised our four children here, enjoying all the good things that family-friendly Petaluma has to offer.

We were drawn to family activities; joining Little League, soccer, scouts, church and school groups.  It’s heartening to acknowledge the many lifelong friends we’ve made by being active in these groups.  We consider ourselves fortunate to live in such a vibrant, friendly, youthful community.

Petaluma Youth Soccer League, President

By 1989, I was coaching and refereeing soccer.  Some clever leaders in the soccer league knew that I would be a committed volunteer and tapped me for a League Board position.  Through the early 2000’s, I led Petaluma Youth Soccer League providing a positive community service for over 2500 kids each year.

Even after my own children were grown, I continued to coach and organize the program.  It’s satisfying to know that you are contributing to a program that provides a positive influence for young people. 

Park Advocate

In the early 2000’s, I met people who, like me, believed that the City’s park and recreation resources were inadequate and deteriorating.  I helped start a group that advocated for improved parks conditions; we appealed to the City Council for resources.  Through this experience, I learned two things – the City has limitations and there’s power in advocacy.

Measure X, Co-Chair

There were others in the community working for recreation improvements.  Activists from the swim community, the newly formed lacrosse leagues, and others agreed the only means forward was through a ballot issue.  I co-chaired Measure X on the ballot in 2012.  That Parks and Recreation Measure received 63% of the vote, just short of the two thirds needed to pass.  However, that public support and the evident need for improved recreation facilities in town, the City has found a way to complete everything on our list!  A great thanks to the citizen team that worked so hard to see the Petaluma Community Sports Complex get built.

Recreation, Music and Parks Commission, Chair

I am chair of the City’s Recreation, Music and Parks Commission to continue to advocate for the needs of our community.  I’ve had opportunities to meet with and encourage the proponents of various citizen-driven projects. Projects have included improvements by Daily Acts at the Library Park, the lease of Cavanaugh Center to Mentor Me, and grant applications to the County Open Space District to fund new parks in Petaluma or grant applications for improvements at Shollenberger Park.  All these projects were citizen driven and needed the support of city government.  This gave me an increased appreciation for the huge impact that our fabulous residents have in making Petaluma a beautiful and vibrant community. As Councilperson, I’ll work to foster more of these public-private partnerships.

Petaluma Youth Commission

I am also fortunate to be a member of the Petaluma Youth Commission.  The stated purpose of the commission is to “be an advocate for the well-being and development of youth through age 21 in the City of Petaluma and in the five areas of their mission: health, safety, recreation, jobs, and community engagement.” Participating in Youth Commission activities has helped me form closer connections to our young people.  I believe that I am helping grow a future generation of Petaluma leaders.

Petaluma Public Arts Committee

For three years, I was a member of the Petaluma Public Arts Committee.  The Committee has oversight on the city requirement that new commercial development install art on their property or contribute to a public fund.  The art seen now at many new developments (Brewsters Garden, Lagunitas, etc.) was reviewed and approved while I was on that Committee.  While I was involved, the Committee entered a process to select a significant installation of Public Art to utilize the accrued funds.  When I first joined the Committee, I was the only non-artist on the Committee.  My background as a civil engineer came in handy. I pushed for a fixed project budget and a fixed project timeline. 

Know Before You Grow

After the meltdown and mortgage crisis of 2008, I became actively interested in housing in Petaluma.  There was growth but people weren’t happy with the results.  It also appeared that people didn’t engage unless the growth was in their backyard.  The public in general had no early influence or engagement in the direction that the development occurred.  I began to educate myself on what makes for “good” growth in a town and to evaluate Petaluma’s process.  I formed Know Before You Grow to help other people understand the process -to get “engaged and educated early.”  These forums, are all citizen-driven. They present new housing topics and explore creative ways of re-thinking the ways that towns typically grow.  As we move forward with the large challenges of housing and transportation facing us, we need a public forum like this to build public consensus on solutions.

The era of sprawl is over, an unsustainable model that has resulted in an infrastructure that the city has no resources to maintain.  New projects will require “infill”, the use of vacant and underutilized properties within the city’s core, along with “transit-oriented development.”  Know Before You Grow is helping our citizens become aware of these new realities and encouraging them to become part of the process that will determine Petaluma’s future.

Municipal Civil Engineer/ Project Manager

In my 30 plus years of engineering, I have built many municipal projects.  I was project manager for the first Recycled Water Treatment Plant in the north bay area.  I was responsible for design, construction and budget for $10 million per year of municipal infrastructure improvements.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

City council must communicate with the public - both be open and listening, as well as the chief explainer of the existing Councilperson and council must be transperent in its actions.


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