As the preliminary election results began rolling in around 8 p.m. last night, November 4, 3rd District Supervisor candidate Steve Pappas and his family and friends shared a moment of elation. He was up slightly as the initial absentee ballot count was reported. Cheers were squealed in the living room of his Los Olivos home - the excitement was palpable but measured.
His wife, Lori, expressed her concerns. “I’m nervous for Steve,” she said, as a chorus of boisterous kids and friends buzzed around her. “His heart is really in this. He’s not running for a political machine; he’s running because his heart and soul is in it.”
Pappas’s mother, Connie - affectionately called “Ya Ya” by all present, which means “Grandma” in their family’s Greek tradition - poured out support for her son. “I’m very excited for him,” she said after his early lead was announced. “Something in him really sincerely wants to do this. Truly, truly he’s concerned about the environment and this area. It’s amazing how devoted he is to this area and how much he believes in what he’s doing.”
The man of the hour, Steve Pappas, was at ease in his country home and seemed to be enjoying his time surrounded by supporters. He explaind, “I was relaxed the whole day. We’ve done everything that we wanted to do. When I woke up this morning I couldn’t think of anything that we didn’t do, or I would have done differently. I have no regrets.”
He also expressed his satisfaction in the clean and respectful campaign he and his team ran. “I’m most proud of the positive campaign we ran, and I credit Doreen Farr on her clean campaign too,” he beamed. “Together, we set an example of how politics should be: focused on the issues, not mudslinging.”
When asked about the importance of Isla Vista in winning the supervisor position, he explained, “The student vote is going to make a big difference. It is a major factor just like Goleta, Santa Ynez, and Vandenberg. It’s like having three worlds under one universe, and I’m jumping from planet to planet.” Pappas admitted it has been a challenge to speak to all of the wide range of political leanings and issues important to each segment of the county, but a challenge to which, no matter the outcome of the election, he feels he has risen successfully.
His godson, Dustin Pappas, a 21-year-old UCSB student who helped garner support for Steve Pappas among students, said that the most important aspect of the campaign was “breaking away from party politics and letting people know that Steve wants to do good for the community apart from any political ties.” Steve Pappas also acknowledged his independence from any political party as his strongest selling point to the community and what could have tipped the scale in his favor last night.
As the results continued to roll in, the mood became more somber. His opposition candidate, Doreen Farr, supported by many environmental groups and the county’s large Democratic Party machine, took an 11 percent lead in the race as the Goleta and Isla Vista precinct votes were added to the total count. Over the next few hours, Pappas slowly decreased the margin of Farr’s lead down to 3 percent, but toward midnight, he was still down by 821 votes.
“We’ll see how it goes from here. I knew it was gonna be close, but I still feel like we could win,” Pappas stated optimistically, despite trailing in ballot counts.
His friend and Native American liaison Tautahcho Muhuawit also expressed his lingering hope for Pappas’s bid. “Steve is for all people, not just one type of people,” he said. “He’s there for the good of all. I see similarities with him and Obama. They both speak from their hearts but also know how to use their educated brains.”
Maybe Obama’s good fortune in the presidential race will rub off on Steve Pappas’s campaign as the ballots continue to be tallied, but for now, it looks like Farr will take the prize of 3rd District Supervisor.