We endorsed Janet Wolf when she first ran for county supervisor four years ago, believing her to be an unusually good fit for the district — encompassing most of Goleta and parts of Santa Barbara — she represents. If anything, Wolf has exceeded our expectations.
What first impressed us about Wolf was the thoroughness with which she prepared for supervisors’ meetings. After that, we were struck by the independence of her thought process. Although Wolf won election with considerable help from other supervisors — Salud Carbajal most notably — she clearly marched to the beat of her own drum.
Wolf led the charge to reverse the unhealthy concentration of executive authority, approved by the previous board of supervisors, in the hands of county administrator Mike Brown. She demanded a degree of fiscal accountability and transparency that Brown was not comfortable providing. When Brown dragged his feet with facts and figures about top administrators’ pay, as he often did, Wolf demonstrated a degree of doggedness that served the entire county — not just her constituents — well.
When it comes to public safety, Wolf doesn’t just talk a good game. She pushed tirelessly to secure a new Emergency Operations Center, replacing the make-shift trailer that itself had to be evacuated during one of the recent fires. At a time when county dollars are in painfully short supply, Wolf helped the county take advantage of Santa Barbara’s private philanthropist community to minimize the costs associated with so vital a public infrastructure.
On land use, Wolf cast the lone vote demanding that Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso prepare a complete environmental impact report on his plans to rebuild the Miramar hotel, still a festering demolition site. When the Los Angeles Times reported Caruso was investing his money elsewhere, while leaving the Miramar an unsightly pit, Wolf was not bashful about asking him the uncomfortable questions in public. That’s to be applauded. With Wolf on the board, we are confident that planning efforts to protect and preserve as much of the Gaviota Coast as is possible can proceed in a sincere, good faith manner.
As Wolf’s opponent, Dan Secord, has correctly noted, there’s no shortage of budget pain confronting the County of Santa Barbara, and nothing but grim choices ahead. But to accuse Wolf of falling asleep at fiscal switch, as Secord has, is patently unfair. Under her prodding, the county supervisors are now more intimately and aggressively engaged in budget deliberations than before and much sooner in the year. Public employee unions — which have contributed substantially to Wolf’s political campaigns — have voluntarily agreed to major concessions at the bargaining table. And Wolf was hardly quiet in her objections to a new swimming pool in Cuyama, which her fellow supervisors approved even though there’s not enough money in the budget to maintain the pool, let alone build it.
In the months ahead, the county will have to hire a new chief executive to replace Mike Brown. That selection will set the tone and tenor of county government for years to come. Of similar importance, new supervisorial district boundaries will have to be drawn up in response to new census information. We’re confident that Wolf will attack these challenges with the same intelligence, dedication, and independence that she’s demonstrated throughout her first three years in office.
Please re-elect Janet Wolf.