Jay Freeman — an Isla Vista activist and founder of a multimillion-dollar tech company — announced this week he is jumping into the 3rd District Supervisor race. His candidacy — challenging Santa Ynez Valley residents Joan Hartmann and Bruce Porter — increases the chances the winner will be determined in November rather than June. In 2012, twice as many 3rd District voters cast a ballot in November compared to June. To win in June, a candidate must receive 50 percent of the votes plus one.
The 3rd District, currently represented by Supervisor Doreen Farr, is vast and diverse. It spans from Isla Vista, along the Gaviota coast, and over the mountain to the Santa Ynez Valley. In person, Freeman, 34, is tall and has a thick beard and long hair. He is from a suburb outside of Chicago and came to the area to study computer science at UCSB in 1999. In 2008, he founded the software company Cydia, an app that allows users to customize features on their jail-broken Apple devices — or a “pimp my ride” for tech geeks.
Freeman is known for rapid-fire public comment; Supervisor Peter Adam recently suggested he lay off the coffee. Freeman has been, as he put it, “omnipresent” in Isla Vista politics for the past year and a half, but active since 2003. Last year, I.V. residents met weekly to hash out Assemblymember Das Williams’s AB 3, which will establish a community services district (CSD) if approved by voters in November.
When asked why he does not run for CSD boardmember, Freeman stressed the district will not necessarily be approved. He added, “Throughout the entire process of all of the different meetings we’ve had in Isla Vista, we’ve always been reliant on [Supervisor Doreen Farr] to get us the resources that we need. With Doreen stepping down, it becomes a very important question: Who will be the 3rd District Supervisor?” He added he wants to use his interactions in I.V. — negotiations with UCSB, for instance — to examine the entire 3rd District.