With the final tabulation in for last week’s Santa Barbara City Council election, first-time candidate Megan Diaz Alley — the most outspokenly progressive of all the 10 candidates — improved her showing, coming in fifth rather than sixth. While Alley managed to eke out a 17-vote advantage over Lesley Wiscomb, another first-time challenger, it was still nowhere near enough to place her in the winning circle. The top three candidates remain unchanged: incumbent Bendy White with 8,884 votes, former councilmember Gregg Hart with 7,829, and incumbent Frank Hotchkiss with 6,570. Liberal challengers David Landecker and Alley came in fourth and fifth with 5,642 and 5,489, respectively, followed closely by Wiscomb and Jason Nelson with 5,472 and 5,274 votes.
Democrats gathered last Thursday night to celebrate and lick their wounds simultaneously. The celebrating was for maintaining the four-to-three edge they currently enjoy on the council, the latter for blowing their chance to defeat the more conservative Hotchkiss. Four Democrats ran for three open seats, thus splitting the vote. Mayor Helene Schneider posted the most lopsided reelection win in recent history by beating challenger Wayne Scoles 73 percent to 26 percent. With no defining issues or clear slates of candidates, turnout was a lackluster 38 percent, with 4,700 of the 17,659 votes cast turned in the last two days of the election. That’s typically a time dominated by Democratic Party operatives.