Mayoral candidate Steve Cushman has urged rival Dale Francisco-a member of the Santa Barbara City Council now running for mayor-to drop out of the race so he can have a clean shot at beating out Democratic mayoral candidate Helen Schneider. In a letter to Francisco, mailed after a meeting between Francisco and Cushman last Thursday, Cushman said that even if Francisco were to win the mayoral contest, he’d still represent just one vote on the council. But if Cushman won, Francisco would retain his council seat and there’d be two pro-business candidates opposed to “the massive giveaway of city funds to the unions.” Francisco was amused but unmoved by Cushman’s suggestion. “That’s absurd,” he said.
“[T]hese actions, unless denounced by you in public as you did privately with me, will discourage future candidates like you or me from becoming part of the political process.”
Cushman exhorted Francisco to repudiate the avalanche of negative political ads unleashed by Preserve Our Santa Barbara, a political action committee funded by Texas real estate billionaire-and part-time Montecito resident-Randall Van Wolfswinkel. Cushman termed the ads “slander” and “untrue venom,” adding that they’re depressing voter turnout. Thus far, turnout in the city’s first mail-in-only election is running at 17 percent. Cushman claimed 40 percent of the ballots should have been turned in already. In the letter to Francisco, Cushman stated, “[T]hese actions, unless denounced by you in public as you did privately with me, will discourage future candidates like you or me from becoming part of the political process.” Preliminary figures indicate that Democratic voters outnumber Republicans and Declined-to-States roughly by a margin of 3-to-2-to-1, and that the vast majority of those who’ve cast ballots are 65 or above. The effective deadline for mailing ballots in is October 30. After that, city election officials recommend voters drop their ballots off in person at City Hall. The absolute deadline to vote is 8 p.m. on November 3.