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November 7, 2017 — Local Elections
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Town of FairfaxCandidate for City Council

Photo of Barbara Coler

Barbara Coler

1,209 votes (18.53%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Living within Our Budget
  • Maintaining and Improving our Aging Infrastructure
  • Protecting our Ridgelines, Open Space, Small Town Qualities AND Providing Adequate Housing



Profession:Environmental Scientist/Incumbent
Owner, Environmental Consultant, Coler Environmental Consulting LLC (2014–current)
Councilmember, Town of Fairfax — Elected position (2013–current)


University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS Bachelor of Science (Honors) & Master of Arts, Biological Sciences (current)
University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS (current)
University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS Bachelor of Science (Honors) & Master of Arts, Biological Sciences (1984)




Barbara Coler is an incumbent on the Fairfax Town Council serving the last 4 years and as Mayor in 2015.  She was appointed May 2013 and then elected November 2013 (as the top vote getter).  She is a scientist with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in biological sciences.  She serves on several Boards:

Marin Clean Energy (Executive Board and Board member); Marin Telecommunications Agency; Community Media Center of Marin; Countywide Community Development Block Grant; Marin County Assessment of Fair Housing; and several Town committees, notably Affordable Housing; Climate Action (former); Open Space; and Age Friendly.  She is also a member of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Hearing Board (alternate).






Barbara has demonstrated her commitment to public service and protection of public health and the environment – with more than 20 years running statewide hazardous waste site cleanup and permitting for Cal/EPA and 5 years enforcing air quality regulations for the nine counties of the Bay Area Air District.  She is currently the Administrator of a significant climate change program for CAPCOA, the non-profit which represents the 35 California Air Districts.


Barbara is a long time resident of the west end of Fairfax and is an avid hiker and biker.  She is a 21+ year Fairfax resident (with 28 years in Marin overall).















Political Beliefs

Position Papers

My Priorities



My priorities if reelected include the following (see below).


Living within our Budget – My highest priority is ensuring we achieve long term economic vitality and that we provide high quality, locally-controlled public services to all Fairfaxians.  I have worked hard to lead and seek passage of reasonable local tax measures – all funds stay in Fairfax.  I am a “hawk” on the Town’s budget, ensuring we stay lean but provide quality services.  Fairfax has taken action: trimming pension benefits for new hires and all Town employees pay their share into pension plans; reduced department budgets; all new employees pay a share of their health benefits; the Town recently refinanced its pre-2013 pension liability which will save more than $1 million over 16 years; and we have kept positions vacant to save money.  Fairfax has the lowest public employees per capita of any small town in Marin and we provide locally controlled community policing 24/7 at low cost.  Because the Town has very few staff, we also use consultants judiciously to augment staffing to provide specialized expertise.  Using this approach allows the Town to address broader and more technically challenging projects, without incurring the additional costs of having full time staff with benefits. 


Maintaining and Improving our Aging Infrastructure – I led efforts to ensure the Town has adequate funding for infrastructure projects through highly successful campaigns for local tax measures.  Some successes through my efforts have funded: street repairs impacted by mud slides; the reconstruction of the Pavilion parking lot; the creation of a sidewalk repair cost-sharing program; initiation of improvements of our pedestrian evacuation trails; and installation of traffic beacons at critical pedestrian crossings.  I have focused the Council’s attention and funding is now allocated this fiscal year for repair of downtown sidewalks and conducting extensive street pavement repairs.  My goals are to implement critical disaster and other hazard mitigation projects and to ensure we have adequate lighting, roads, sidewalks, and pedestrian walkways and that we conduct other projects which may pose safety concerns to our residents.  We must continue to proactively plan for the future by identifying needed public works projects, funding and grant opportunities.


Protecting our Ridgelines, Open Space, Small Town Qualities and Providing Adequate Housing – Fairfax is defined by its vast open space and beautiful ridgelines.  We must protect our open space, our ridgelines, wildlife corridors, ecology and the visual landscape.  We must preserve and protect our biological and cultural resources.  To this end, I worked hard on the campaign to raise $1.3+M for the acquisition and restoration of Sky Ranch - 16 acres of open space which connects hundreds of miles of trails stretching from the Golden Gate to Point Reyes.  We must prevent any unreasonable, excessive development or construction on our open space and ridgelines or any projects which could mar or otherwise impact our visual landscape.  We must continue to acquire open space and preserve our existing open space for our Town.  However, we cannot ignore the mounting affordable housing crisis.  In addition to preserving the uniqueness and small town character of Fairfax, we must ensure we have adequate and affordable housing.  We can achieve these objectives by protecting our existing cost-effective housing stock and seeking opportunities to add additional appropriately scaled units.  We can allow grandfathering of existing “illegal” second units, providing a streamlined approach for junior second units, approving lower scale multi-unit smaller complexes, and utilizing other infill approaches, all within our local control.  Ensuring we have adequate housing for young families, seniors and our workforce can be achieved using approaches which do not significantly change the character and look and feel of our Town.  During my tenure as Mayor, we adopted a streamlined junior second unit ordinance, an emergency homeless shelter ordinance and updated our Housing Element, which utilized a  Fairfaxian “home grown” infill approach to meet our housing needs. 

Supporting our Fight against Global Warming and our Environmental Sustainability Ethics – During my tenure on the Council, we adopted our Climate Action Plan and created our Fairfax Climate Action Committee (CAC).  As a member of CAC for the first 3 years, I ensured the Council took up measures within the CAP (e.g., adopting rigorous water conservation measures, adopting several PACE funding programs in 2015; planning for LED streetlight retrofits, obtaining a grant to fund a MCE Deep Green incentive for 100 Fairfax residents); I also developed a Scorecard which documents Fairfax’s many climate action accomplishments from the 1980s to date).  We must also attain these goals by preserving and acquiring open space, providing biking and adequate pedestrian trails and promoting other low carbon modes of transport (telecommuting, encouraging use of internet tools, buses and other non-single occupant commuting), fully implementing our climate change plan, and promoting zero waste by living by our motto “reduce, recycle & reuse.

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