Isaac Garrett made it official late Tuesday morning, announcing his mayoral candidacy in front of City Hall. A realtor by profession long active with the NAACP, Garrett pledged to rein in city spending, pursue district elections, and support affordable housing. Additionally, Garrett has argued that no one and no entity whose livelihood is directly affected by City Hall should be allowed to make contributions to council candidates. This would bar developers and public employee unions, among others, from donating. Garrett’s entry into the race brings the number of mayoral candidates to six. The others include councilmembers Iya Falcone, Helene Schneider, and Dale Francisco; homeless activist Bob Hansen; and Chamber of Commerce president Steve Cushman. Promoter Justin Michael, who vowed to wow the youth vote out of political somnolence, failed to turn in enough signatures of registered voters to qualify for the ballot this November.
Meanwhile, Olivia Uribe, the 24-year-old standard-bearer for Santa Barbara’s populist left in the crowded race for the Santa Barbara City Council, announced that she was dropping out of the election for personal reasons. Her Friday announcement came as a shock to supporters and foes alike. In a prepared statement, Uribe explained that because she no longer had her job with SBCAN, an activist organization focused on affordable housing, social justice, and environmental politics, she must now find employment. Exactly how Uribe came to be unemployed, however, has been the subject of much tight-lipped, clenched-jawed, “no-comment” discussion.
Uribe had worked for SBCAN since 2007 and previously served on the nonprofit’s board. Relations between her and the organization were officially severed at a meeting last Wednesday night. Uribe denied she was let go for improperly using SBCAN’s mailing lists to solicit campaign support. (Tax law prohibits nonprofits from becoming embroiled in electoral campaigns.) “None of that has any validity whatsoever,” she said. “The only person who can talk about personnel matters is me, and I don’t have anything to say.”
Uribe-who, if victorious, would have been the first Latina elected to City Council-had garnered the endorsement of the Democratic Party, whose slate of endorsements-which also included Helene Schneider for mayor and Grant House and Dianne Channing for council-was not without considerable controversy. Candidates David Pritchett and Cathie McCammon, both longtime party activists, challenged the outcome and the process by which the endorsements were made.
Pritchett engaged in a public war of words with party chief Daraka Larimore-Hall that some party activists applauded as candid and refreshing, and others dismissed as unseemly and undisciplined. As an SBCAN boardmember, Pritchett stated that he could not discuss the terms and conditions under which Uribe severed her ties with that organization. Pritchett also said, “As a lifelong Democrat, I’d be honored to have the [Democratic Party’s] endorsement, and I believe I’d fulfill the objectives they had in mind by choosing Olivia in the first place.”
Larimore-Hall said he did not know at the time the invitations [to present candidates’ platforms] were sent out, that McCammon was running.
With Uribe out, the party will reexamine its endorsements. Larimore-Hall said the executive committee decided to meet in the next few days to endorse McCammon, Pritchett, or Harwood “Bendy” White. He said the Democratic Party would endorse the candidate most in sync with the values espoused by Uribe, which he described as a commitment to sustainability and affordable housing, among other things. Uribe opposed Measure B, the proposed height-limitation initiative that would limit new buildings downtown to no more than 40 feet. Uribe critics contended that she was too green, too inexperienced, and too politically correct to attract the breadth of support needed to win. They also complained her candidacy would fragment the liberal environmental voting bloc.
Uribe said she’s not sure what she will do with the $9,000 she has remaining in political contributions. “That’s what everyone wants to know,” she commented. “Maybe I’ll keep it around for the next time I decide to run.”