One reason candidate Steve Pappas has not reported late contributions to his campaign for 3rd District Supervisor, yet has a continuing presence in web and television advertisements, is an independent expenditure committee under Platinum Performance, the veterinary clinic run by Pappas supporter Doug Herthel.
Platinum Performance has spent $104,728 since April 20. Pappas has not reported any late campaign contributions. In the weeks leading up to the election, candidates must report any contributions in excess of $1,000 within 24 hours of receiving the funds.
Most of the money paid for television and newspaper ads, including full-page color placements in the Santa Ynez Valley Journal, a newspaper owned by Pappas supporter Nancy Crawford-Hall. Crawford-Hall herself has given Pappas $110,000, which is more than 70 percent of his total campaign contributions. Platinum Performance also gave $992 to Pappas for clothing from Nordstrom.
Crawford-Hall poured more than $500,000 into Pappas’s failed 2008 election campaign and subsequent lawsuit contesting that election, which he also lost. Pappas lost to Doreen Farr by 806 votes out of more than 36,000. He is currently appealing a judge’s decision that he owes Farr $525,000 in legal expenses.
Farr, meanwhile, is in a fight to hold onto her seat, considered to be the most competitive — and most important — county seat up for grabs. The 3rd District is widely regarded as the swing district, and also represents the most diverse district in the county. As they say, “As the 3rd District goes, so goes the county.”
The two candidates could be in for a long night as the ballots will be coming into the county election headquarters in Goleta from as far as Guadalupe and Vandenberg Village. As of Saturday’s count, 3rd District Republicans have turned in 3,161 ballots while Democrats have returned 2,625. No-party-preference voters have sent in 868 ballots. County officials are hoping for 35 to 40 percent turnout rate. Countywide, 41,164 out of 107,301 vote-by-mail ballots have been returned. That’s roughly 6,000 to 7,000 more than last year’s primary. In the 2008 primary, 98,143 total vote-by-mail ballots went out, with 69,535 returned.
Observers think the low turnout favors the more conservative candidate, in this case, Pappas. Farr, as she did in 2008, will need a strong turnout from UCSB and Isla Vista, two places where she carried the vote by a wide margin to be successful. Students make up a large percentage of the population in both areas and are still in school. Both candidates have been busy campaigning on campus in recent weeks.
Both sides have lost the congeniality that permeated the 2008 campaign. Farr, who no doubt has had enough of Pappas’s legal wranglings while she is trying to operate in office, has attacked Pappas for being absent over the last four years with no regard for the county board goings-on. Indeed, he often comes across as not well-versed on important county issues, perhaps most well-represented by a candidate questionnaire on Noozhawk, where he did not answer five questions (out of only 21 total) on serious matters facing the county, only saying he “would need more information on the topic to formulate an opinion.”
While Pappas has said he is trying to steer clear from the lawsuit and focus on the issues, his advertisements have featured warnings from people like former UCSB baseball coach Al Ferrer that students take heed to ensure their vote is not stolen from them. Other advertisements allege Farr has “misled” voters.
Farr will begin her election night in Buellton and will be making her way to an election party at Holdren’s in Goleta. Pappas will be watching the returns at his home.
Meanwhile, incumbent 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal will have no difficulty cruising to victory Tuesday evening despite another name on the ballot. Carole Lieff was never considered a viable candidate, and though she eventually dropped out of the race, her name still appears on the ballot. Carbajal will be at Casablanca Mexican Restaurant on lower State Street.
The race for the 4th District seat may very well end up heading to a November runoff. Conservative incumbent Joni Gray — a 12-year veteran who has run into various obstacles leading up to Election Day, including questions about her involvement in the Lompoc Housing and Community Development Corp. debacle — faces a challenge from the right in rancher Peter Adam, and from the left in former Lompoc mayor Joyce Howerton. Should no candidate receive more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters would square off in the November general election.
Gray’s 4th District seat is the only county seat out of the five where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats, giving either Gray or Adam a strong leg up should either of them make it to the runoff and have to face Howerton.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Vote-by-mail ballots can be dropped off at any polling place within the county. Check independent.com once results start rolling in shortly after 8 p.m. for results and reactions.