2nd District Elbow Toss

by Nick Welsh

The four candidates vying for the 2nd District supervisor seat struggled to define their differences on slippery issues of growth control, congestion management, and maintaining the South Coast quality of life at a Monday night debate hosted by the League of Women Voters and the Citizens Planning Foundation. Das Williams presented himself as the second coming of Bill Wallace — a former county supervisor who was the godfather of Goleta’s slow-growth movement — and promised to fight the pro-growth board majority. Joe Guzzardi — the no-growth county emergency planner — countered, saying the real future Williams envisioned for the South Coast resembled Manhattan, replete with high-rise buildings, abundant taxicabs, and buses that run every 10 minutes. Williams conceded he supported the latter as a method of alleviating congestion.

Dan Secord — the sole Republican contender and a former Santa Barbara city councilmember — sought to counteract his “Developer Dan” tag; he pointed out that during his 17 years of public service, he’d been culturally steeped in one of the world’s slowest growth communities, and said he supported preserving the Gaviota Coast, Goleta Beach, and More Mesa. But Williams interjected that Secord — as a coastal commissioner — had voted for development on More Mesa. Williams and Secord were briefly united in the belief that growth and congestion are caused by the chronic imbalance between jobs and housing.

Janet Wolf — a former Goleta School boardmember — plugged coveted endorsements she recently secured from the County Firefighters and Women’s Political Committee. Wolf was also the most outspoken supporter of a controversial plan to build affordable housing for firefighters, nurses, and other responders on agriculturally zoned land in the Cathedral Oaks and Turnpike areas. Guzzardi — who works for the County Fire Department — charged Wolf’s endorsement was arranged by sitting supervisor Susan Rose, and claimed he was the only candidate not beholden to special interests. He said the South Coast’s political leaders have rolled over for developers eager to cash in on population growth. The election is June 6. Barring the unlikely event that any candidate wins a simple majority, the top two vote-getters will go head-to-head in November.

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