Important Dates


John Sawyer: 5,991 votes (56.8%)
Lee Pierce: 4,539 votes (43.0%)
Write-In Candidate(s): 21 votes (.2%)


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Please click the links below to view the latest news on John Sawyer:

Sawyer wins, The Press Democrat, November 6, 2018

In District 2, meanwhile, incumbent John Sawyer won his fourth City Council election, receiving 59 percent of the votes with all of the precincts counted. Councilman Lee Pierce had 40.8 percent of the votes to represent the southeastern district that includes the Bennett Valley, Kawana Springs and Doyle Park neighborhoods.

Sawyer, a fourth-generation Santa Rosan who owned the now-shuttered Sawyer’s News business downtown, was first elected to the council in 2004 and is its first openly gay member.

“Very pleased,” Sawyer said of the results. “We’ve got a lot on our plate coming up in the next few years.”

PD Editorial: Sawyer, Fleming for a new era on the Santa Rosa City Council, The Press Democrat, September 23, 2018

Sawyer stands out in District 2. With three terms, he is the senior member of a young City Council that is expected to lose two veterans in 2020. With the city’s reserves nearly exhausted after last year’s fires and tough budget choices ahead, his command of City Hall finances is a public asset.

Sawyer also deserves credit for his role, as mayor in 2015-16, in restoring civility and fostering cooperation on what had been a fractious council.

For the Santa Rosa City Council, The Press Democrat recommends John Sawyer in District 2…

Santa Rosa City Council slashes development fees for downtown housing projects, The Press Democrat, September 25, 2018
Santa Rosa is set to slash fees charged to builders in a bid to spur a new wave of high-rise housing development, part of a long-term overhaul of the city’s core envisioned more than a decade ago. The City Council voted 6-0 on separate resolutions Tuesday night that together will result in immediate, sharp reductions in development fees tied to new housing for parks and infrastructure…It was the latest step in a series of City Council actions this year that are intended to speed the production of multi-family housing in the downtown area, now with a renovated transit center and a reunited Old Courthouse Square. Council members were united in their praise for the measures, which come amid a housing crisis exacerbated by wildfires that last year wiped out more than 3,000 homes in Santa Rosa and 5,300 countywide. “I am ecstatic that this is before us,” said Councilman John Sawyer. “I’ve been waiting for decades to be able to support this kind of proposal. It will be a game changer.”

Housing bond, sales tax make November ballot in Santa Rosa, The Press Democrat, July 24, 2018
The decision by the City Council to place two different tax measures on the Nov. 6 ballot represented just how stretched the city finds itself as it battles both an acute housing crisis and a bleak budget picture, both of which have deepened by the October wildfires. “It is clear to me that not only is housing desperately important in our community,” Councilman John Sawyer said. “We also need to help the community understand the desperate financial times we find ourselves in.”

Santa Rosa approves $447 million budget to spur fire recovery, The Press Democrat, June 19, 2018
The council briefly considered closing down the Bennett Valley Senior Center, which had been identified for possible closure. Moving those services for seniors to the Person Wing of the Finley Community Center was estimated to save about $54,000 annually. But council members were uncomfortable pulling the plug on the center without the seniors being notified and able to weigh in on the move. Council member John Sawyer said seniors should be given the chance to address the council and not feel like they were “a ball being batted around.”

Roseland annexation finalized as Santa Rosa poised to grow by 7,400 residents, The Press Democrat, October 4, 2017
“I’m so pleased that after a lot of hard work by a lot of people, we’ve been successful,” said City Councilman John Sawyer. “It’s the right thing to do.”…After some initial friction between the city and county, Sawyer and former Supervisor Efren Carrillo helped hammer out a workable cost-sharing agreement in 2016. A rebounding economy that boosted government coffers played a role, as well.

PD Editorial: A win for Santa Rosa, Sonoma County and Roseland, The Press Democrat, November 16, 2016
We write a lot about seeking common ground and compromising for the common good. So it’s incumbent on us to take note when government officials do just that…“We were able to work out an agreement that fit for both the county and city in the long term,” he (Santa Rosa Mayor John Sawyer) told Staff Writer Kevin McCallum.

Santa Rosa, Sonoma County forge deal on funding annexation of Roseland, The Press Democrat, October 26, 2016
Santa Rosa and Sonoma County struck a historic financing deal Wednesday that paves the way for Roseland and four smaller county islands to officially become incorporated into the city. The cost-sharing agreement, which took more than two years to hammer out and had proven a stumbling block to past annexation efforts, was hailed as “momentous” by Mayor John Sawyer. “It’s a very important decision to make and one that we did not come to lightly,” Sawyer said. “We were able to work out an agreement that fit for both the county and city in the long term.”

Santa Rosa expands homeless program, The Press Democrat, October 12, 2016
Mayor John Sawyer said that while other communities around the state are either “in denial or behind the eight ball” in dealing with the homeless crisis, Santa Rosa was showing leadership on it. “Kudos to the staff. Kudos to our faith-based community and all those that have been involved in creating this great program,” Sawyer said.

Santa Rosa, Sonoma County moving closer on Roseland annexation deal, The Press Democrat, August 20, 2016
Behind the scenes, significant progress has been made on resolving a key tax-sharing dispute between the two sides, so much so that there is optimism a deal could be struck in the coming months, Mayor John Sawyer said Friday. “There has been major movement,” Sawyer said. “The city and the county have moved closer and closer and closer, and now we are very close.”

Santa Rosa, Catholic Charities delivering showers to homeless, The Press Democrat, February 12, 2016
“This is one piece of a larger puzzle of connecting people to vital services they so need and deserve,” Mayor John Sawyer said. He praised the city, which began discussing the purchase of the trailer eight months ago, as working at “hyper-speed” to get the trailer up and running.

Santa Rosa City Council signs off on final Old Courthouse Square design, The Press Democrat, January 26, 2016
While that construction deadline is tight and many questioned the rush, Mayor John Sawyer, the longest-serving council member and a retailer who owned a downtown business for 35 years, reminded the audience that the project has been debated in some form for three decades.

Santa Rosa City Council advances project to reunify Old Courthouse Square, The Press Democrat, September 22, 2015
Mayor John Sawyer, whose family owned a downtown business for 66 years, said he remembers when the former courthouse was demolished and the square bisected. He said he felt the city had lost its heart in the process. “I believe it’s time to replace that heart with a usable space for our citizens,” Sawyer said…Sawyer similarly stressed the importance of making the downtown livable again, saying the reunited square will be the “front yard” for new downtown residents and it needs to be attractive, comfortable and inviting…“This to me is an investment in the future.”

Santa Rosa to spend $415,000 on homeless outreach effort, The Press Democrat, August 11, 2015
Mayor John Sawyer said investing in aid to get people off the streets saves money in much the same way keeping people healthy and out of emergency rooms keeps health care costs down. “Upstream investments are not a waste of money. It will cost us less in the long run,” Sawyer said.

Contract approved to build Bayer Neighborhood Park and Gardens, The Press Democrat, July 22, 2015
Santa Rosa awarded a $5.3 million contract this week to construct a long-awaited park in the heart of the city’s Roseland neighborhood…The company expects to begin work on the agricultural-themed project in August and finish next year…“This is a very special project,” Mayor John Sawyer said. “It’s a major asset not only for the neighborhood but for the community at large.”

John Sawyer picked as new Santa Rosa mayor, The Press Democrat, December 2, 2014
John Sawyer was named the new mayor of Santa Rosa by his City Council colleagues Tuesday night and Chris Coursey the new vice mayor, a surprise outcome that some said signaled the council is committed to a fresh start after years of caustic political strife…“My election as mayor was reaching across the aisle. His (Coursey’s) election as vice mayor was reaching across the aisle,” Sawyer said.

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John knows the lack of affordable housing in Santa Rosa has made it more and more difficult for young people, families and seniors on a fixed income to afford the cost of living here. He recognizes that increasing the supply of housing is the clear, sustainable solution to address this crisis. As a member of the City Council, he has voted to approve several housing projects to increase housing stock in the city, with a focus on infill and transit-oriented projects which provide a higher density of homes near major vehicular and public transit/rail corridors. John believes the Downtown core is the prime target for this type of density.


As Mayor of Santa Rosa, John made the annexation of Roseland a priority. After years of debate and discussion, he worked with county officials to reach a revenue-sharing agreement which ensures the county invests in the future of Roseland in perpetuity. This creative solution allowed the annexation to move forward giving thousands of Roseland residents political representation and services which their neighbors within city limits had enjoyed for decades. With the annexation complete, the city and county have been collaborating to revitalize the site of the long-abandoned Sebastopol Road Shopping Center (next door to the Dollar Tree) into a vibrant, mixed-use community including affordable housing, retail shops and a large community gathering place.


As a 35-year business owner of Sawyer’s News which opened in 1945 less than a block from the site of the original Courthouse, John has a deep understanding of the history of the bifurcation of Courthouse Square (which he remembers happening as a young man) and the long-held goal of reuniting it. Shortly after John was elected Mayor, he rolled up his sleeves to ensure the City could finally realize a decades-long vision to reunify the square and jump start efforts to create a more vibrant downtown. Instead of dwelling on a design that was considered opulent and unnecessarily costly, John supported a common-sense endeavor to simplify the design and build consensus around an affordable, pragmatic alternative to keep the project moving forward. Under John’s leadership, the City Council unanimously approved a scaled-down version of the Courthouse Square reunification plan. The new square was dedicated with great fanfare in April of last year. It now serves as our city’s central gathering place and marks the beginning of the transformation of our City’s “heart!” It is fast becoming the “place to be.”


With our ongoing housing crisis and the start of service on the SMART commuter rail line and a crackdown on encampments on the old rail corridor, Farmers Lane and the Joe Rodota Trail, the homelessness crisis has reached a flash point. John has been a major advocate for maintaining the City Council’s housing first policies. He supports connecting homeless residents & our most vulnerable citizens to important services and providing our neediest residents with opportunities to receive the important help they so desperately need.


John has collaborated with our firefighters and police officers to ensure they have the resources needed to keep our community safe and effectively do their jobs. John has enjoyed the support of local firefighters, who were on the front lines during the devastating October wildfires. He has also long had the support of the Santa Rosa Police Officers Association for his work with peace officers to protect our residents from the threat of crime & violence. In addition, John has been an avid supporter of the efforts of the Santa Rosa Violence Prevention Partnership, supporting our community’s youth and families.

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Endorsements (horizontal scroll)

Thank you for your support in re-electing John Sawyer to the Santa Rosa City Council!
Election Night Results – Click Here To View

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“John Sawyer is a proven leader for Santa Rosa through his work as a City Council member, Vice Mayor and Mayor. He’s active and understands the issues Santa Rosans face. As the longtime operator of Sawyer’s News, he is an experienced businessman and fixture of our community. I’m proud to support him.”

 - Mike Thompson, U.S. Congressman

“John has proven himself to be the steady hand and consensus-building leader we need on the Santa Rosa City Council. His background as a longtime business owner, Mayor and lifelong resident provides him with both the institutional knowledge and level head we need to address the many important issues facing Santa Rosa in the years ahead.”

 - Pam Chanter, Santa Rosa Resident and Chairwoman, Sonoma County Economic Development Board

“John Sawyer has been an effective and pragmatic member of the Santa Rosa City Council. He builds consensus and maintains a calm and collective temperament no matter what issue comes before us. John has the right skill set needed to continue leading Santa Rosa toward a brighter future.”

 - Tom Schwedhelm, Santa Rosa City Councilmember and former Police Chief

“John Sawyer has worked tirelessly to improve and sustain the quality of life for families, seniors and our small business community. I’ve known John for many years and he continues to be engaged, involved and deliver for the needs of Santa Rosa. I’m joining with hundreds of neighbors and community leaders in support of his re-election to City Council.”

- Mike McGuire, State Senator

“As a graduate of Montgomery High School and Santa Rosa’s public schools, John Sawyer has always been supportive of our children and next generation. He has been there for our teachers, children and families by advocating for safe streets, parks and neighborhoods, and his good work on the Council has earned my vote for him to continue serving.”

 - Elaine Guaraglia, Bennett Valley Resident and Retired Teacher

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Click on the images below to see the full-size versions:

John is honored to work with seniors to ensure a sustainable future for Santa Rosa residents.

As an early supporter of upstream education initiatives, John is committed to our children's success both inside and outside the classroom.

Vote John Sawyer for City Council!

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