If it wasn’t for Paula Perotte officially announcing her campaign this past week, there wouldn’t have been a race for Goleta City Council at all. Becoming the fourth candidate in a November 2 ballot box battle for three seats, Perotte will be challenging the two incumbents, Roger Aceves and Michael Bennett, who are running to retain their seats, as well as political newbie Reyne Stapelmann, a real estate agent who made her campaign official two weeks ago.
For Perotte, a Goleta resident for 27 years who worked her way up the Parent-Teacher Association ladder to become district president from 2007 to 2009, the decision was “a natural transition to the next step.” She explained, “The bottom line is that I think Goleta is an incredible place to live and raise a family. I care about it, and I’d like to preserve its wonderful character.” And she’s running with a decent head start, thanks to endorsements from Councilmembers Ed Easton and Margaret Connell as well as county Supervisors Doreen Farr and Janet Wolf.
Perotte is the mother of two daughters, both Dos Pueblos High grads, and her husband’s family once owned the Magretech floppy disc-related business on Hollister Avenue. She is currently a parent partner development coordinator for the Community Action Commission, a job that involves working with the parents of special needs children across the county to “navigate through whatever system they may be involved with.” Her rise through the PTA started at the Santa Barbara level, then evolved to being district president overseeing Santa Barbara County’s 64 schools, and now finds her working, albeit less intensely, at the state level on issues of “community concern.”
Despite the respectable pedigree, Perotte does admit that others helped convince her to run, although she did make the final choice herself. “I just kept waiting to see if maybe there was someone else, then I thought, ‘No, this is the right time for me.’” While she says she’s “never done anything like this,” Perotte has been involved with getting legislation about safe routes to schools passed, explaining, “I just love that process of government.”
The registered Democrat, who grew up in San Dimas before the 210 freeway overtook the orchards of her childhood, believes that her experience and leadership at the PTA is good evidence of how she’ll behave on the council if elected. “I’m a good listener, so one thing I could do well was get everyone at the table and facilitate everyone working together,” she said of her PTA years. “We all felt like a team. It didn’t feel like any one person was in charge.”
Supportive of both the environment and local business, Perotte is quickly getting a lesson in everything from UCSB’s long range development plan to the drama surrounding Bishop Ranch, whose owners want to develop the the 240-acre plot of agriculturally zoned land. Luckily for her, Perotte said, “I’m a quick learn and I do my homework.” As to the future of Bishop Ranch, Perotte points to the exhaustive General Plan process. “Goleta residents and leaders make it clear through the Goleta General Plan that Bishop Ranch should continue to be zoned for agriculture,” she said. “They took a lot of time coming up with that General Plan, and as far as I understand, we’ve met our housing needs for the foreseeable future.”
However, Perotte refuses to be pigeonholed one way or another on any issue. “With all of the issues, I want to listen,” she said. “I have an open mind, I’m fair, and I want that discussion to continue.”
Overall, she’s looking forward to her first city council campaign and hopes that she can make a difference while also encouraging others to become more involved in the City of Goleta. “I like Goleta, so we have to be aware of what we have and where we’re going and what we’re doing with Goleta,” said Perotte. “That’s why I was really excited when Goleta became a city. We could listen to what everyone wanted and really govern our own destiny.” And if all goes well for her, she’ll be one of the folks shaping that destiny in the years to come.