Dem Committee Announces Council Race Endorsements

Selects Helene Schneider, Bendy White, Gregg Hart, and Megan Diaz Alley

Thursday, May 9, 2013
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The Democratic Central Committee endorsed Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider for reelection in this November’s City Council race as well as incumbent Councilmember Bendy White. In addition, the committee voted to endorse former councilmember Gregg Hart, who last served in 2003, as well as political newcomer Megan Diaz Alley, now approaching her first year on the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee.

But the real tension in last week’s vote was whether Hart or former councilmember David Landecker ​— ​who stepped off the council in 1989 ​— ​would get the party nod. Both are skilled and experienced players with deep roots with the local Democratic Party. Hart, a moderate policy wonk who works for SBCAG ​— ​the government entity responsible for distributing millions of dollars of state and federal transportation dollars each year ​— ​was the first candidate to announce his intentions this year. He scored the highest number of votes and took on doubters who questioned whether he could represent both City Hall and SBCAG if elected. Had Hart not gotten the endorsement, he would have withdrawn from the race. Landecker ​— ​who until recently served as executive director for the Environmental Defense Center ​— ​stated he was not surprised by the outcome and that he wasn’t necessarily bowing out. “I am definitely running,” he said, “today.”

Had experience trumped youth, the party would have found itself endorsing three middle-aged white males for the three council seats, not a likely outcome given the party’s leadership and direction. Instead, the voting members chose Alley, who moved to Santa Barbara in 2006 after a brief stint in the movie business in Los Angeles. Alley was raised in the Midwest, the only child of second-generation Mexican-Americans. She currently works for SEE International and before that worked for the Community Environmental Council. She was recruited and encouraged to run by Councilmember Cathy Murillo, and like Murillo, Alley said she would give political expression to immigrants, women, renters, and those just starting to raise a family.

While the party endorsement carries weight, it does not constitute a political slate. In fact, Mayor Schneider and Councilmember White expressed doubt that they’d endorse anyone in this upcoming race other than each other. Up for grabs this election is the mayor’s seat as well as three council positions. Thus far, no one has challenged Schneider. Councilmember Frank Hotchkiss is also running for reelection and should have the backing of the Republican Central Committee, on which he sits.

While several other potential candidates have expressed interest in the race, so far only Lesley Wiscomb ​— ​a three-year veteran of the Parks and Recreation Commission ​— has held a public event to declare her intentions. Wiscomb was initially encouraged to run by both Democrats and Republicans, but her candidacy was ultimately embraced by council conservative Dale Francisco and planning commissioner and liberal Sheila Lodge, who share an aversion to increased residential densities and a skepticism that such densities generate the affordability their “smart growth” proponents contend.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

So Megan's entire qualifications are that she is an actual American that happens to be from Mexican parents and, in her words, "said she would give political expression to immigrants, women, renters, and those just starting to raise a family."

Thanks for bringing excellence to our little town...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 12:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No, surging italian, those are her highly abridged qualifications when distilled down to a single sentence by a haggard news writer on a tight deadline.

When next year she is sitting in the chair currently occupied by Frank Hotchkiss, you can have another nice day then.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 1:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Instead you might try illuminating the rest of us but that of course requires substance which you typically avoid.
So you are blaming the copy writer for her lack of voluminous credentials rather than the inability of this female or the Dem's to communicate for this fluff piece?
Or are you instead stating that anyone that is an American of Mexican descent is good enough win an election in this town?

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 3:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Italiansurg, Diaz-Alley's comments are one of the main reasons I left the Democratic Party. For all of their talk about equality, the party plays the divisive race card and endlessly offers their Messianic approach of "we'll save you" while of course they wouldn't dare address the real problems affecting those they *claim* to represent.

"Immigrants"? Does that include people from Russia, China, etc. Please, somebody tell me *why* there is a difference in the experience of some immigrants from that of others, and if you say "institutionalized racism", please give tangible example instead of hyperbole.

I acknowledge racism exists, but the multiculturalist approach we see here doesn't work. Moreover, lots of white males struggling as well, just check out the homeless veterans sleeping in the streets.

As for me, I'd like someone who can represent *everyone*'s best interests, and not just play to a select few while actually making the problems their hypothetical constituents even worse, even if they in all innocence really believe the approach they are taking will work. (Despite it's ongoing failures)

billclausen (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 3:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm not sure I would describe Nick Welsh as haggard... hectored maybe..

Frank Hotchkiss' entire political future rests on this upcoming election. In fact if he seeks re-election to Council it's over but if he runs for mayor.. Francisco has just way too much baggage for the average voter and much less the average "Conservative" who doesn't want to be identified with the bigotry and narrowmindedness that has come to characterize Dale Francisco to the public.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 4:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I left the Dem's when they:
Started using "diversity" to exemplify how we are different, and;
Started handing out entitlements instead of trying to insure equal access and opportunity.

As a "little l" Libertarian the politics of this country seem as bizarre and unproductive as the politics of my former country.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2013 at 1:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

For what it's worth, I too am a "little l" Libertarian.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2013 at 2:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How about an informal survey. If the mayoral race was held today and there were only two candidates in the race: Frank Hotchkiss and Dale Francisco, which would you to vote for?
I think most people would choose Hotchkiss. But you know the system is entrenched for the Republicans as it is the Dems and Hotchkiss will probably play along and let DF run and lose his council seat. FH has a better chance at mayor than council re-election.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2013 at 3:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It looks like Frank has a very good chance at winning when he's up against these Democrats. These Democrats have not been able to elect a full slate in recent SB City Council history.

local (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2013 at 3:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There's never a full slate of Dems because there are always so many more Dems than Republicans on the ballot the vote gets diluted and snakes like Francisco slither in. Only CNN thinks the world is 50/50 black/white blue/red.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2013 at 4:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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