Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Peake’s appointments to the city’s boards and commissions raised some eyebrows when the list was released in an agenda report for the P.G. City Council meeting taking place tonight, Jan. 18. In one case, it appears he snubbed his political opponent in the Nov. 7 election, Mike Wachs.
Wachs joined the election to run against Peake, despite being relatively new to P.G., having moved there in 2020. He told the Weekly last fall he ran because he didn’t think it was right that Peake would appear solo on the ballot, giving voters no choice. He mounted a campaign by knocking on doors, greeting people at the town’s weekly farmers market and advertising, but lost with nearly 35 percent of the vote.
Still wanting to contribute to city governance, Wachs says he applied to four different boards and commissions: Planning; Economic Development; Beautification and Natural Resources; Recreation. Wachs received zero appointments. He says he wasn’t surprised.
“Over the course of the campaign it seemed like leadership had a particular way of interacting with dissension and anyone who goes counter to their views,” Wachs says. “In the end, it was the outcome that I didn’t hope was true, but I thought might be true.”
In addition, Wachs’ mother-in-law applied to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force and was not selected.
The chair of the DEI Task Force, Tina Rau, was also rejected in her bid to remain on the task force, in a surprising move by Peake who rejected two other members who wanted to retain their seats. He did appoint one woman, Marie Hunter, who in her application called into question DEI principles.
Rau ran for council in the Nov. 7 race and lost by just 52 votes behind a competitor, Debby Beck, who came in third, thereby securing the third seat on the City Council. (Beck has not been a supporter of the DEI Task Force in the past.)
Rau also applied to join the Economic Development Commission but was not appointed. One person who was appointed to the EDC was Peake supporter Michael Gibbs, a founder of the conservative group PG Lives. Rau’s wife applied for a post on the Traffic Commission and was rejected.
Peake did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The mayor’s appointments are not automatic, they must be approved by the rest of the P.G. City Council. It’s on the agenda for tonight, Wednesday, Jan. 18. The meeting is at City Hall, 300 Forest Ave., and online. (An agenda with instructions for how to participate is available here.)
Wachs says he’ll apply again in the future. “As long as there are openings and I believe that I can help in some way I’ll keep applying,” he says.
“Some of the people who have been appointed are really heartening,” Wachs says, because he believes they want to do what’s best for the city.
“I wasn’t really offended with the personal outcome for me, because it's what I expected,” Wachs says, adding that for a city that bills itself as “America’s Last Hometown” where people know each other, “ it’s sad in that respect.”