It is less than two weeks before the primary election and the attack ads have begun to flow. I have received three flyers this week from the Carbajal congressional campaign attacking fellow candidate Helene Schneider over her position on the Highway 101 widening project. The ads claim that her actions delayed and increased the costs of the project. In fact, Schneider was concerned that the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the widening did not address the impacts on intersections in the City of Santa Barbara. Earlier this year, Judge Thomas Anderle agreed and ruled that the EIR be recirculated to review these points. Schneider’s stand was not against the future 101 widening but with the people of Santa Barbara, to ensure that impacts on city streets and intersections were adequately addressed.
She read the report carefully and did not accept its conclusions. As a councilmember and mayor of Santa Barbara, Schneider has always done her homework and reviewed issues critically, a characteristic that would be welcome in the Halls of Congress. It appears unlikely that the debate over environmental details will delay the 101 widening since the design plans are months away from completion. It will simply allow for a better project in the end.
Democratic and Republican congressional campaigns are pouring money into this race — an open seat — and it is vital that it remains in Democratic hands. Mayor Schneider and Supervisor Carbajal are both good progressive candidates, but Schneider has more ideas on how to make significant change. Voters will see nine choices for the 24th Congressional seat. Join me in voting for Helene Schneider this June 7.
Ed. Note: Margaret Connell is a columnist for this paper.