History of Dennis
Growing up in Richmond, CA, I worked in our family’s neighborhood grocery store until leaving for college. As a child, when my brother and I would rassle and roughhouse, my immigrant grandma would tell us, “If you kids don’t stop it, I’m going to ship you to Petaluma”. Ironically, my wife and I shipped ourselves to Petaluma to raise our family.
I was only the second person in my family to go to college. I started off in engineering, but switched to medicine because I preferred taking care of patients. I met my wife, Dr. Donna Norquist, while studying medicine and we came to Sonoma County to begin our careers. We raised our children, Sean 31, and Gina 29, here in Petaluma where my grandma came to buy chickens for her grocery store. I coached my daughter’s elementary and junior high soccer and basketball teams where we had both first place and last place teams and I received the gift of witnessing young women learn valuable lessons about themselves.
After retiring from medicine in 2009, I wanted to teach and become more involved in the community than I could with a busy practice. I became a mentor for Mentor Me and later served as Chair of their Board of Directors. I taught Biology and Anatomy and Physiology at Casa Grande High School as a long-term substitute and was an Assistant Advisor to health occupation students. At UC Davis, I taught Introduction to Public Health and worked as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Public Health Sciences and Internal Medicine.
Gradually my public service transitioned into political commitments. I completed a 2 year term on the Petaluma City Youth Commission representing Petaluma on the Stakeholder’s Advisory Group of Sonoma County Climate Action 2020. During the past 5 years, I worked as a Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer; worked for passage of and access to the End of Life Option Act; supported and defended immigrant rights; advocated for single-payer health care and for local Petaluma campaigns on a $15 minimum wage and a just cause eviction ordinance.
Two years ago I ran for a seat on the City Council, motivated by a commitment to defending our right to a healthy future for ourselves and our children. That future must include a thriving local economy to provide a secure livelihood, affordable housing, safe streets, and a determined response to the climate emergency. I may have lost by 342 votes, but I didn’t lose my dedication to preserving the unique character of our city by ensuring that growth benefits the citizens of Petaluma more than the developers.
I am running once again with continued devotion to these same principles. We now face even more threats to our wellbeing: COVID-19, the climate emergency, a looming financial crisis, the threat of even more wildfires, racism and worsening affordable housing availability. To effectively face these disasters, we need a robust City Council that addresses root causes, not symptoms. Just as I advocated for my patients to receive the appropriate and best care possible, I will advocate for a healthy, resilient and inclusive Petaluma.