As part of a protracted campaign to regain the Santa Barbara City Council majority in November, the local Democratic Party held a day-long organizing fest at the Goleta Community Center, where attendees heard from two definite council candidates, one very big maybe, and three newcomers who were thinking a lot about it.
The definite candidates were Cathy Murillo — former reporter for The Independent — and Deborah Schwartz, a city planning commissioner and daughter of former county supervisor and political warhorse Naomi Schwartz. The big maybe was former Santa Barbara councilmember Iya Falcone, who was forced to drop out of the last mayoral race because she failed to collect enough valid signatures for her nomination petition. Also speaking were Blanca Flor Benedict; Daniel Ramirez, who works for El Puente school and as a K-LITE disc jockey; and Robert Burke, known best for his philosophical soliloquies before the City Council.
All three had asked to be appointed to the council this winter to fill the vacancy created when Das Williams left the council after seven years to take his seat in the State Assembly. The council opted to replace Williams with restaurant owner Randy Rowse, much to the consternation of many Democratic Party activists, who have since focused on fielding a formidable slate this November. That’s when Councilmembers Dale Francisco, Michael Self, and Rowse — more politically conservative — must run for reelection.