Your reporting on the recent sale of the Sonoma Gazette to Sonoma Media Investments (SMI) suggested the transaction would create a "near-monopoly on print media in Sonoma County." Your article also referenced the oft-mentioned University of North Carolina report on the struggles and closures of thousands of newspapers across America.
For that reason, we applaud Vesta Copestakes for her 20 years of community publishing. We'd also like to mention for the record that Sonoma County is home to six other local newspapers, not owned by SMI. Four of those newspapers are owned by us at Sonoma West Publishers. They are Sonoma West Times & News, Windsor Times, The Healdsburg Tribune and Cloverdale Reveille. The other two separately owned papers are the Rohnert Park Community Voice and the Independent Coast Observer in Gualala and Sea Ranch. All six of these newspapers have local ownership.
As Vesta showed, living in the communities you report on provides a more knowledgeable and responsive news product. The loss of any one of these local newspapers, as the North Carolina study concludes, would greatly diminish the local communities themselves. The NC report calls these "news deserts." We just wanted to add for the record that Sonoma County remains a place of "news oases."
Sonoma West Publishers
Latinos in Sonoma County
There are currently around 140,000 Latinos in Sonoma County and we will get a better idea after the 2020 census count. If you visit Epicenter and watch the youth soccer matches on the weekends, you will see a majority of Latino youth participating. The largest ethnic group in elementary schools in Santa Rosa is Latinos.
Santa Rosa has never had a Latino elected representative at the Assembly, Senate or Congressional level. Today, County Supervisors: none.
The Santa Rosa City Council had an opportunity to "appoint" a woman to fill the term of departed Julie Combs. They failed. How do you have two finalists as women and go backwards in the process to anoint a male? Fallback to needing "experience." Eleven months left in the term; how much experience is needed?
2020 will see another round of City district elections. The hope is that we will finally see representation of a community that has long been underrepresented.
Our youth need to see leaders who reflect them. See themselves in those types of positions. Our current political leadership does not reflect this. As much as I admire and respect Mayor Schwedhelm, he can't speak to this group. One of the women for consideration of the council could.
Whatever excuses are now being made are just that—excuses. Santa Rosa deserves better.
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