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    Barry's Avatar
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    Mike Reilly, former Sonoma County supervisor and California coastal commissioner, dies

    Mike Reilly, former Sonoma County supervisor and California coastal commissioner, dies
    THE PRESS DEMOCRAT December 27, 2019, 8:25PM

    Retired Sonoma County supervisor Mike Reilly, for decades a genial yet resolute champion of the people who inhabit a great swath of the lower Russian River watershed — and of the land itself — died Thursday. The longtime Forestville resident was 75.

    Politically liberal, Reilly worked in human services before he won election to a vacant seat on the Board of Supervisors in 1996. Through three four-year terms, many of the issues nearest his heart involved equal treatment of under-served residents and vigilant stewardship of natural spaces along the Sonoma Coast and elsewhere in the county.

    Reilly’s passion for conservation led to him serving 12 years on the state Coastal Commission, for two years as its chairman, and on the board of the California Coastal Conservancy.

    “He was a fierce defender of the coast and its resources,” said former county Supervisor Tim Smith.

    Smith, a 20-year veteran of the board who lives in Santa Rosa, said Reilly distinguished himself also by the open and respectful way he treated even his political adversaries, and by how thoroughly he researched the issues that came before him.

    “Everybody liked working with Mike,” Smith said. “He was smart, did his homework, came prepared all the time.”

    And, said the former central-county supervisor, it was unmistakable how much Reilly cared for the county’s Fifth District, which takes in western Sonoma County.

    “He was sort of the mayor of west county,” Smith said.

    The current vice mayor of Sebastopol, Una Glass, witnessed Reilly work through the more than two years that she served as his district aide and the many more years that they were colleagues on the board of the conservation group Coastwalk California. Reilly was still the chairman of Coastwalk when he died.

    “What I can say about Mike is that he read his packet,” Glass said. As a county supervisor and a coastal commissioner, she said, Reilly wasn’t at all one to ask staff members to tell him what to think but instead he pored over research and data, and made up his own mind.

    Glass reflected further, “He was kind of your classic Irish politician.” She said Reilly was renowned for his common, friendly touch and for treating everyone well, but standing tough for his convictions.

    “He was just unpretentious,” Glass said, “an unpretentious person who cared a lot about making the right thing happen.” And, she added, he had no qualms about accepting the money needed to make such things happen.

    Glass remembers Reilly saying more than once, “We’re going to take money from the devil and do the work of angels.”

    Continues here

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