And They’re Off

City Council Race Gets Underway

Thursday, April 25, 2013
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Lesley Wiscomb, a former Wall Street bond trader and retired landscape architect, announced she’s running for the Santa Barbara City Council in this November’s election. Wiscomb has served on the city’s Parks & Recreation Commission for three and a half years and has been urged by partisans of the left and the right to consider running. She’s a registered independent and was supported at her press conference by Dale Francisco, the council’s reigning conservative, as well as planning commissioner and former mayor Sheila Lodge. Wiscomb suggested her financial background would equip her well in dealing with the budgetary challenges ahead, while her experience in landscape architecture will help her preserve Santa Barbara’s small-town character. She said she is running as an individual and not part of any slate. Wiscomb noted that she and Francisco did not always see eye to eye. He strongly supported Measure Y, which would have allowed a new housing development off Las Positas Road, but Wiscomb, a Mesa resident and activist, said she strongly opposed it.

Up for grabs this fall is the mayor’s seat, as well as three council positions. Mayor Helene Schneider is already amassing campaign endorsements from the likes of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee, and it appears unlikely she will face serious opposition. Two council incumbents are seeking reelection ​— ​Frank Hotchkiss on the right and Bendy White on the left. One seat ​— ​the one occupied by Councilmember Grant House the past eight years ​— ​will become vacant when House is forced to step down because of term limits. Two former councilmembers ​— ​Gregg Hart and David Landecker ​— ​have stated they plan to run. Both have well-established ties to the Democratic Party. Hart now works for the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, an agency sometimes at odds with City Hall over the distribution of road-infrastructure resources. Landecker recently retired as executive director of the Environmental Defense Center. He was forced to resign from the council more than 20 years ago after he was caught switching price tags on garden shears.

Planning Commissioner Michael Jordan, another registered independent who’s been long active with the downtown business community, has also indicated his intention to run. Megan Diaz Alley, another Parks & Recreation Commissioner associated with the progressive-environmental community, is likewise preparing for the race. Also expressing serious interest is Jason Nelson, who served as campaign manager for Steve Cushman when Cushman, then the head of the Chamber of Commerce, ran for mayor four years ago. Since then, he has served in the military in Afghanistan.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

We need more people with sound fiscal and business experience on city council. This will be an important election for our city's future.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2013 at 8:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

and fewer people with social planning agendas...

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2013 at 9:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

And fewer people blatantly in the pockets of city employee unions.

This election it will be best to list the qualities one wants to see on council first, and then evaluate the candidates who best match those needs.

Here goes my list in no special order:

---strong fiscal oversight skills,
---understands large business operations,

---understands balancing city mission between efficient personnel management, public services and city infrastructure needs,

---public record of prior civic engagement,
--- team player,
---not exploiting position for higher political aspirations,
--- seasoned and/or mature,
---not an narrow agenda ideologue,
---not compromised by special interest group donations or endorsements
---capable of saying no, as well as yes

foofighter (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2013 at 9:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

yes, by all means no social planning. let's just let things happen at random.

and of course not compromised by being endorsed by someone foo doesn't like.

pk (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2013 at 3:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

what do you mean when writing "social planning agendas"?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2013 at 6:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No bozos and no nanny-states = no more social planning agendas The choice is not just allowing random happenings in its place. Always with the false dichotomies, eh?

We have written ordinances, a public process for change, and a mutual compact to co-exist together in this town to honor a set of agreed standards.

What we don't need is more unelected city staff running fast and loose with their own self-serving agendas that circumvent and trump the exercise of the governed. This should not be hard to understand.

Leadership, civic engagement and independence at the top; not political pandering at the city council level is the solution. Vote independent this time.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2013 at 8:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Defining "social planning" as being equivalent to "bozos" and "nanny states" is about as unthinking and absurd a false dichotomy as one could imagine.

Somehow it also isn't too hard to imagine foo voting for the most conservative, anti-"public employee union", pro-"business experience" candidate and claiming that his choice had nothing to do with "special interests" (a group that would of course include the other guys but not his guys) but was all about choosing someone who was independent, nonpartisan, and had no "narrow agenda" ideology, as if foo's positions were God's neutral, objective views of how life is supposed to be. I'll be voting my partisan ideology; foo will be voting his. One main difference between us is that I'm sensible and self-aware enough to realize and admit it.

pk (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2013 at 9:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I am curious why some people advocate for candidates who seem not to stand for anything nor want to do anything specific if elected.

Just a tip: being backed by Westby and Francisco is partisan, but they just will not admit which political party principles they are.

Clearly they are assembling a slate for Wiscomb to prop up Hotchkiss.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2013 at 9:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Anyone wanting to get elected will serve best if they don't come on council with a specific, narrow agenda, because a council member's role is to work with fellow council members on a mutually shared agenda.

But this also means bringing their own independent insights into the fuller council discussions, before any final council decisions are made.

This is the meaning of the people, by the people and for the people. So yes, you do want to know where they are coming from on critical issues that are important to you. But that is only the start of the work that needs to be done once someone is actually on the council.

Best this time to elect council members for known qualities of character, rather than for promises to deliver partisan political payoffs. Guard against that. Watch who endorses and who makes the major campaign donations as this race unfolds. Past will be prologue.

It is far too early to be drawing lines in the sand for any of the new faces in this race. It is going to be a very energizing election which is exactly what this city needs right now.

Right now start thinking first about what you want for the city and then only secondarily, who is the best person to help get it there. Try to be a pro-vote; not an anti-vote.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2013 at 10:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Are you implying John Adams that the esteemed Frank Hotchkiss is but a mere puppet of Dale Farncisco's? And once Francisco is gone Hotchkiss will be fumbling in the dark and will need someone to guide him? You're just trying to discourage Hotchkiss' mayoral chances, surely even he knows he could trounce Francisco in the race.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 26, 2013 at 1:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"What we don't need is more unelected city staff running fast and loose with their own self-serving agendas that circumvent and trump the exercise of the governed."
-- foofighter

I don't understand how your complaint about staff has anything to do with elected positions. Is any candidate running on a platform of reining in "fast and loose" staff?

Can you provide a specific example or two of "fast and loose" staff?

SezMe (anonymous profile)
April 26, 2013 at 3:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

oy, foo, yur makin little sense, mate,..."This is the meaning of the people, by the people and for the people" -- hey, now that's very deep, where'd you get it?? And, what alliteration with
"elect council members for known qualities of character, rather than for promises to deliver partisan political payoffs." What political handbook do you pull these from, I know it isn't Saul Alinsky? Too many lines in the sand and tired cliches.
JA's got it, I think, it's "a slate for Wiscomb to prop up Hotchkiss."

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 26, 2013 at 3:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

pk took you apart, foo, give more of your poor, huddled masses of are utterly partisan, and haven't the honesty to admit it. Hey, stay with Ayn Rand, you can be John Galt, eh?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 26, 2013 at 3:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

staff run amok may best be demonstrated by a traffic department that insists on building bulbouts when 1) there is no evidence (as admitted by the traffic department) that they improve safety) and 2) they clearly endanger bicyclists by forcing them into the car lanes at bulbouts. Council could and should rope these bozos in.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
April 26, 2013 at 8:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

General Plan was classic staff run amok; driving a very large wedge of alienation and a sense of powerlessness between the city and the electorate.

Look more at the alienation of the electorate to get your clues about where the city might need to go; rather than inside the city itself. That way there will be fewer post-election surprises.

City needs good and well paid staff to function efficiently and professionally. That is not the issue. The issue is whether the residents think they are being adequately served.

Residents have more votes than staff so good to pay attention to what people on the street are thinking and saying and respond to this appropriately, rather than with reactive hostility. Thus better understanding what it means to have governance of the people, by the people and for the people.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
April 26, 2013 at 8:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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