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Mule Kick

Close Calls and Dem Victories Tag Election

by Ethan Stewart

Mirroring a nationwide trend, Santa Barbara County voters turned
out in force this past Tuesday and largely voted in favor of
Democratic candidates. Faced with a laundry list of local and state
propositions, a gubernatorial race, the 2nd District supervisorial
contest, Goleta and Carpinteria City Council races, and two seats
up for grabs on the Santa Barbara School Board, nearly 122,000
county residents cast ballots (roughly 65 percent of registered
voters), including more than 22,000 in the City of Santa Barbara.
When the smoke cleared early Wednesday morning, there was a new
sheriff in town, a surprisingly powerful counterrevolutionary
movement in Goleta, a Wolf on the Board of Supervisors, old and new
faces on the Santa Barbara School Board, and a new mandate for
Santa Barbara city cops to make marijuana their “lowest enforcement
priority.” [Editor’s Note: As of Wednesday afternoon, 24,000
absentee ballots and 3,000 provisional ballots remained uncounted
countywide.]

One of the closer races was between Democrat Janet Wolf and
Republican Dan Secord for the nonpartisan 2nd District seat on the
County Board of Supervisors. Beating Secord by a measly 905 votes,
Wolf took home just under 13,000 votes, or slightly less than 52
percent. Addressing a small group of family and friends, Secord was
hardly sullen in defeat. The former Santa Barbara city
councilmember offered thanks and commented with a heartfelt smile,
“Lord knows we did a good job in an uphill battle.” Wolf shied away
from declaring herself victorious Tuesday night, despite her
opponent’s de facto concession speech. Addressing a left-leaning,
raucous crowd at SOhO, Wolf — joined onstage by her husband and
three daughters — reflected on the “challenges” of her campaign
before promising the 200-plus attendees, “We will see change.”

At press time, the biggest upset of the night appeared to be
that of incumbent Sheriff Jim Anderson at the hands of Lompoc
Police Chief Bill Brown (pictured above right). Brown’s lead of
more than 5,500 votes — or 53 percent — was insurmountable. Being
an outsider to the department, Brown commented that his first
action as sheriff would be to write all the deputies a personal
letter asking for their input on key topics. Rounding out a
bruising campaign pitting two men who clearly did not respect one
another, the Brown victory marks the first time in the last 100
years an incumbent Santa Barbara county sheriff has ever lost.

Out in the Good Land of Goleta, an amazingly close City Council
election seems to have doomed the city’s newfangled General Plan to
the paper shredder. Shocking even themselves, campaign partners
Michael Bennett and Eric Onnen took first and second place in the
council race, turning what was once a 4-1 majority in favor of the
General Plan — which champions urban agricultural preservation and
growth control — into a 3-2 majority the other way. At press time,
it appeared environmentalist Cynthia Brock would be the only
survivor of the three incumbents, taking the third open seat by
just a few dozen votes ahead of Roger Aceves, with current
councilmembers Margaret Connell and Jack Hawxhurst coming in last.
After victory speeches at Zodo’s bowling alley by Bennett and
Onnen, the CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, Kristen
Amyx, took the stage, thanking the two victorious candidates “for
the very hard work you are going to do for us.” Bennett and Onnen
have said that the first thing the new majority will do is rewrite
the General Plan to allow for more development, especially housing
on agriculturally zoned lands. Nevertheless, they maintain that
they are in still in favor of “slow, managed growth.”

The slow-growth slate that’s run Carpinteria City Hall for the
past 16 years further solidified its hold as Brad Stein — now
entering his fifth term — was reelected mayor, and two newcomers
long associated with the slow-growth slate, Gregg Carty and Al
Clark, won election. Losing out in the process was Councilmember
Greg Gandrud, a Libertarian-minded Republican and an outspoken
supporter of freeway widening. Clark noted he won despite a
last-minute mailer holding him responsible for the closure of Main
Elementary School, freeway congestion, and air pollution. “That
sounds like a pretty good platform,” he joked. “I think I might
switch over to the other side.”

In the Santa Barbara School Board race, incumbent Bob Noel
defended his seat by winning nearly 32 percent of the vote, with
Kate Parker taking the other available seat with nearly 29
percent.

As for measures, Santa Barbara City voters resoundingly approved
a plan to make marijuana-related offenses the lowest priority of
the SBPD. Measure P passed with nearly 65 percent approval. Measure
D — a countywide initiative to fund various transportation
projects — needed a two-thirds majority, but received only 54
percent of the vote, despite the fact that winners like Wolf and
Congressmember Lois Capps had lobbied heavily for it.

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