The People Have Spoken: Local Election Plays Out as

by Ethan Stewart

Ominously tagged with the devilish dateline 6/6/06, Tuesday was
Election Day for Californians. With several significant local
primaries, and a proposal to split Santa Barbara County in half on
the docket, turnout at the polls was markedly light; about 46
percent of registered voters county wide cast ballots, and nearly
60 percent of these were absentee. While there were no jaw-dropping
returns Wednesday morning, there was enough percentage-point
jockeying on Tuesday evening to keep the camp fires burning late in
many of the candidates’ post-election party sites.

Santa Barbara County officials counted 182,860 votes, and —
though approximately 9,000 absentee ballots remained to be tallied
as of press time — the results are clear. In the highly anticipated
2nd District county supervisor race, sole Republican candidate and
former Santa Barbara City Councilmember, Dan Secord took home top
honors with nearly 31 percent of the vote. Fewer than 400 votes
behind him was affordable housing advocate and former Goleta School
Boardmember Janet Wolf with 29 percent of the votes. The two will
square off this November for the right to replace retiring Susan
Rose. Rounding out the losers’ bracket was Santa Barbara City
Councilmember Das Williams with roughly 21 percent of the vote, and
Joe Guzzardi just behind him with about 19 percent.

For Secord — who hosted the most jovial post-election bash of
the evening at the Endless Summer Bar-Café in the Harbor — the
results came as no surprise, as he remarked shortly before 9 p.m.,
“I never really thought of myself as an underdog … We’re going to
run a nice campaign in November.” For Williams, the defeat had to
sting as the young local Democratic star had bucked popular opinion
within his party to make a run for the supervisorial seat, despite
time remaining on his City Council term and an arguably more
attainable 3rd District seat up for grabs in 2008. Williams dropped
in at Wolf’s party at the Beachside Bar-Café in Goleta to give her
a congratulatory hug, saying, “I’m going to work as hard for Janet
as I would have worked for myself.” Guzzardi and his supporters
rode out the disappointing evening at Harry’s Café on upper State
Street; they found a silver lining in the final count by pointing
out Guzzardi’s close rivalry with Williams, despite having spent
about one-fifth as much money on his campaign.

If there was any surprise Tuesday night, it had to be the
results of the countywide sheriff’s election. The contest for top
cop was ostensibly the most bitter local race, and though incumbent
Sheriff Jim Anderson weathered the storm to take home nearly 37
percent of the vote, he still stands to face “good guy” Lompoc
Police Chief Bill Brown this November. Brown — who most experts
agreed had no chance at all — came in with nearly 25 percent of the
vote, squeaking past former sheriff Jim Thomas’s 22 percent;
Lieutenant Butch Arnoldi came in with 15 percent. Thomas and
Arnoldi pledged to back Brown. “Hey, if you’re an incumbent
sheriff, and only one-third of the voters say they want you to stay
on the job, you’re in real trouble,” said Thomas. Brown — who
celebrated at Penelope’s, a Lompoc tea and gift shop — summed up
his victory by saying, “I’m going to have a glass of wine, kiss my
wife, and then start all over.”

Despite its high profile, Measure H — the proposal to split
Santa Barbara County and form a new northern Mission County —
proved to be the resounding loser on Tuesday night. With 82 percent
of county residents voting against it, the proposed split met a
similar fate to its previous incarnation in 1978. Santa Maria
businessman Jim Diani — who spearheaded the Measure H effort — said
he was surprised by how lopsided the results were, but conceded, “I
think the people have spoken.” He added that he had “no incentive
to address this again in the near future.” Eighty-one percent of
would-be Mission County residents also opposed the initiative.

Rounding out the remainder of local races, incumbent 5th
District County Supervisor Joe Centeno raked in 72 percent of the
vote, eliminating the need for a runoff against his challenger
Yvette Andrade. Christie Stanley also won her bid to replace
longtime District Attorney Tom Sneddon with nearly 69 percent of
the vote, while Doug Hayes garnered 16 and Gary Dunlap brought in
about 15 percent. Lastly, Judge Arthur Garcia beat out Kevin Ready
for the superior court judge seat with more than 60 percent of the


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