ALBANY -- Rochelle Nason has been named to the Albany City Council to finish out the term of Peggy Thomsen.

The vacancy was created when Thomsen, who was serving her fourth term as mayor, died June 8 at age 74.

Nason, who has lived most of her life in Albany, was selected by the City Council at its July 7 meeting, beating out Nick Pilch and Peggy McQuaid, the other two who applied to fill the seat.

Her environmental experience with the League to Save Lake Tahoe was cited by one council member as a reason for the choice.

"I'm happy, I'm looking forward to the challenges, I'm flattered because the other two candidates were both extremely strong and I share Mayor (Joanne) Wile's view that they would be strong candidates in November," Nason said. "I'm looking forward to serving on the council."

The choice was made through a process that included nominations by all sitting council members and multiple rounds of voting. Nason received four votes during the first round of voting, when each sitting council member was allowed to vote for two candidates in an attempt to reduce the field to a final two. Pilch and McQuaid each received two votes. It then took three rounds of voting to select Pilch as the other finalist, the tie being broken when Wile switched her vote from McQuaid to Pilch. The last contested vote went 3-1, with Peter Maass voting for Pilch, and the council then unanimously passed a resolution appointing Nason to the seat.

"Of course I'm disappointed," Pilch said, but added, "Rochelle is great. She shares my values. I think she's going to be wonderful."


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McQuaid likewise said that "I think it's fair to say disappointed because it's something that I wanted to do. But it's certainly not the end of the world. I was really honored and humbled by how many people wrote me letters (of support) and came tonight and were supportive. That's just amazing to me."

McQuaid said she will run for a seat in the fall. Pilch has run twice previously and hinted that he would seek a seat this fall as well.

Nason's appointment will last through the November election. At that time, three seats will be up for election -- the remainder of Thomsen's term, which runs through 2016, and two full four-year terms.

McQuaid clearly had the overwhelming support of the public that weighed in -- both in terms of letters and emails of support sent to the city and public speakers at this week's meeting. Pilch also had some support, while Nason had no one speak on her behalf.

However, Wile said during the voting process that, "the strongest issue before us is going to be the transition plan for the Albany waterfront, so I'm going to be voting for the person with the strongest environmental record." Nason served as executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe for 18 years. Pilch cofounded Albany Strollers and Rollers and McQuaid has served on several committees for the city.

Second units, traffic measures

The council also approved amendments to the city's Municipal Code regarding "secondary dwelling" units, sometimes known as "in-laws."

The amendments are intended to legalize already existing units and permit and facilitate the construction of more to help expand the city's housing stock. The changes included eliminating the 12-foot height limit for detached second units, allowing the reduction of setback standards and clarified parking requirements.

The council also approved a traffic calming plan for the 800 block of Washington Avenue. Among its other aspects, the plan institutes a parking ban with a red zone on Washington between Pierce and Cerrito streets. The street is too narrow to allow parking on both sides while leaving enough room for emergency vehicles to pass.

Some residents currently park their cars halfway on the sidewalk to allow enough room for emergency vehicles, but that blocks the sidewalk.

Other changes will install bulbouts at Gateway Avenue and a raised crosswalk.

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