No Contest: Voting 101

No Votes Needed: With Montecito residents often crawling over each other for prestigious board positions, it seems newsworthy that on November’s ballot there are no challenges to report for any of Montecito’s special district board seats. No election will be necessary at the Montecito Water District, whose three openings were filled by the three lone applicants, newcomers Sam Frye and Richard Shaikewitz, and incumbent Robert Puddicombe. At the Montecito Sanitary District it’s the same story. Judith Ishkanian, who was recently appointed to fill a mid-term board vacancy, captures an unopposed full term of her own. At the Montecito Fire District, incumbent John Venable is easily reseated, with nary a challenger in sight.

Historically, Montecito special district ballot contests are rare. The most recent election where voters made the difference was at the Montecito Water District in 2002. The Sanitary District hasn’t seen an election since 1995, and the last voter ballot election for Montecito Fire District board members was nearly 30 years ago, in 1977!

So why are there no challengers to force an election? The serious and hard duties that are required by these important community services scare off a lot of retiring Montecitans. Additionally, the requisite public announcement of openings, sometimes only posted on district doors, goes largely unnoticed. Also, many board vacancies occur mid-term, a fact that allows district boards to curb election costs and defuse the unknown by having personal knowledge of the fill-ins. Once appointed, the proxies become incumbents, and a pretty sure bet to be seated in any ensuing election.

That said, with 15-year veteran board member Robert Begley recently stepping from the Montecito Sanitary District, there is a seat on that board available. General Manager/District Engineer Diane Gabriel says she welcomes applicants: “There is nothing we would like more than to have a good selection of candidates.” The Sanitary District board will hold an appointment hearing on Monday, October 9, at 1 p.m. Anyone seeking application information may contact Gabriel at 969-4200. However, the seat is not a sure bet because Montage already hears there is one well-known community leader, with district experience, who’s got an eye on the sanitary seat!

Your Vote Counts Here: Election news also comes from the Coral Casino. Nominations are open for four seats on the club’s Membership Committee. Melinda Mars is stepping down to tend to projects closer to home, and the three-year terms of John Wilczak, Marie Larkin, and John McGowan all come to an end. McGowan, the club’s embattled and construction-weary current president, says he’s reluctantly anteing up for another term, but anxious to spearhead more positive social club innovations. He reports the club construction is moving swiftly and that the July reopening of Team-Ty looks to be on target.

In other election news, Montecito mom Suzy Cawthon throws her hat in the ring for the Santa Barbara School Board race. The Montecito Association extends its board nomination date until Friday, October 20, at 5 p.m. And Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver make a fundraising swing through Montecito at Genevieve and Ivan Reitman’s dinner on October 30. The ticket price is a Halloween hair-raising $10,000 per person, but well worth it, as the Reitmans always serve such nice food!

Green Light for Spinach: Only Lucky’s showed the strength to serve spinach throughout the E. coli scare. “We never stopped serving it. We know our supplier and we tracked our products all the way along. I’ve been eating loads of it,” reported a very healthy-looking Lucky hostess. Tres Lune, Via Vai, and Piatti are all still spinach-free, but Vons in Montecito hoisted it back on the shelf.

art_fund.jpgArt Advancement: Montecito residents Gene Sinser and Patty DeDominic have been elected honorary co-chairs of the Arts Fund’s annual fundraiser on October 8. Sinser has been active on the group’s board of directors, where he served as treasurer and headed the Individual Artist Awards committee. Additionally, the Sinsers have hosted a number of special events for the Arts Fund at their very dramatic and artistic Montecito home. Sinser is former head of Gene Sinser Gallery in Los Angeles and has been active with the Roads Committee of the Montecito Association. His wife Patty DeDominic is the founder, CEO, and chairman of the PDQ Careers Group of Companies, one of Los Angeles’ largest privately held staffing services.

image001.jpgTragic News: Westmont College reports that recent grad Will Wiersma, 23, was killed in a car accident on Monday on Interstate 110 near Coachella. The car, in which Wiersma was riding, apparently swerved to miss a coyote and went off the road. Westmont said Wiersma was returning to Santa Barbara, where he was about to begin a new job with a with Commission Junction, an internet marketing firm. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Westmont, where he majored in political science and was president of his freshman class.

Montecito in Motion: Montecito Fire District’s Geri Simmons posted a final Day fire report and breathed a sigh of relief that her mother, who lives in the fire’s path, suffered no damage. Geri posted a great global fire tracking site for your future use:

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Plastic Bags? Throw ‘Em Away

Santa Barbara County makes recycling rules tougher in face of exacting standards.

UCSB Ranked Number Three in UC System

Cal and UCLA took the one and two spots.

Pini Property Fights Continue

As an epic attorney battle continues in the Dario Pini receivership, a tenant is getting fed up.

MTD Takes Stand Against Prop. 6

The bus company is concerned about the state funding it relies upon.

County Half-Jokes It Wants Cannabis ‘World Domination’

A government executive implores growers to get legal before time runs out.