The race for Goleta City Council is officially on, as Reyne Stapelmann, who was named a planning commissioner earlier this year, announced her candidacy this week. The real estate agent, who has lived in the Santa Barbara area since 1999 and in Goleta since 2002, explained, “Since I’m already entrenched in what is going on here in our town, I think I’d probably be a good candidate to move that a step up.”
Stapelmann’s candidacy makes her only the third entrant in a race for three seats. Councilmembers Roger Aceves and Michael Bennett are running to retain their offices, but no one had thrown their hat in ring to replace outgoing councilmember Eric Onnen until Stapelmann’s announcement this week. The Independent has also learned that Paula Perotte, a former president of the 15th District’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), has also pulled the papers necessary for a campaign and is planning to run for the city council seat as well. Her formal announcement will come sometime soon.
With the deadline for filing being this week, the lack of candidates had some in the community worried whether someone would step up, and Stapelmann admits that pressure from others was part of her decision to enter the race. One of those was surely Bennett, who appointed her to the planning commission in 2009 after a long search to fill that role. In a prepared statement, Bennett called Stapelmann “thoughtful, open-minded, and very rational,” adding, “She does not jump to conclusions, but focuses on all the facts before making a decision.”
The candidate offered a similar assessment of her decision-making process. “I like to hear all sides,” said Stapelmann, who believes her job in real estate offers a “unique window” into the everyday lives of Goletans. “I try to make a very good decision based on all the information that’s out there. It’s a challenge.”
During her term on the Planning Commission, Stapelmann said that there has not been much conflict — in fact, she said that all of the decisions have been unanimous, and chalks up the city’s current state of low volatility to the adoption of what she calls a “very workable” general plan. That short track record without major decisions will certainly make it hard for political watchdogs to pigeonhole Stapelmann as either pro-business or pro-environment. And she’s happy that way.
“I like to straddle the fence,” said the lifelong Democrat who lives near Stow Grove Park. “It’s important to defend and protect our environment yet it’s also important to be able to have a job, because if you don’t have a job, the chances are that you’re not going to be able to afford to live here. I do believe there is a balance.”
Though the New Jersey native has only been a resident of the area for 11 years — her former husband’s work took them around the world, from Mexico City and Stockholm to Toronto and St. Louis — Stapelmann’s five adult children (two of whom are her current husband’s children) all attended school in the area: they’re a mix of Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, and Santa Barbara high grads, with two UCSB grads thrown in as well. “I can only say the school system here is fantastic,” explained Stapelmann, who values Goleta’s “suburban family neighborhoods, urban conveniences, and agricultural heritage.”