Goleta City Council candidates Margaret Connell and Ed Easton came under fire this week as a series of negative mailers blasting the two for their alleged support of the city’s current revenue neutrality agreement and higher density housing along the Hollister corridor began appearing in Goleta mailboxes. One side of the leaflet depicted UCSB’s new graduate student housing complex - which is not within the Goleta city limits - still under construction, asking ominously, “Is this the future you want for Goleta?” The ads were paid for by a PAC called the Coalition for a Healthier Goleta, which filed at the Santa Barbara County election office on September 30, but about which not much information is available.
“In the last week, Goleta voters have been deluged with thousands of dollars in negative and misleading advertising,” said a visibly incensed Connell at a press conference on Tuesday. “Voting by mail began a week ago, and the public still has no idea who or what this group is or the source of its money.” Both Connell and Easton were adamant that they are not in favor of the current agreement, and that increasing density along the Hollister corridor was something all members of the Goleta City Council voted for to satisfy the state housing mandate.
Although the Coalition for a Healthier Goleta paid for the mailers, and, according to information available at the County Elections Office, has purchased nearly $10,000 worth of television advertising from CableTime of San Francisco, no other financial information was available for the group as of press time. All that is known is that it is classified as a general purpose committee, with Treasurer David Gould, of the David Gould Company - a Los Angeles-based political finance consulting firm - the only name listed. A call to the Gould Company was met with a brusque response and did not shed any more light on the mysterious PAC. Neither of the candidates opposing Connell and Easton - Jean Blois and Don Gilman - said they had had any knowledge of the PAC or its ads. Gilman stated that he had even made some calls to see who was behind it. “I was disappointed,” he said. “I don’t do that kind of politics.” Blois said that she likes to run a positive campaign.
Aside from the phone number for the PAC’s out of town treasurer, an address and phone number associated with Roy Zbinden - who challenged Councilmember Jonny Wallis in the last City Council election - is the only direct contact information listed for the group at the state election office. Zbinden was unavailable for comment. The address given for the PAC on the mailer - 5662 Calle Real #238 - is a P.O. box at the UPS store in Goleta, and was also the location Connell and Easton chose to hold their press conference.
Automated calls were sent out by Goleta PAC this week as well, with some having a message similar to the curious mailers, and others in support of Blois and Gilman. However, Goleta PAC - a group staffed by current and former members of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce - has available at Goleta City Hall a full report of donors and expenditures associated with the City Council race. “We won’t stand for lies, we don’t stand for secrecy, and we don’t expect Goletans will either,” said Easton at the press conference.