Goleta School Boardmember Susan Epstein at De la Guerra Plaza for a rally on International Women's Day
Paul Wellman

The day after Santa Barbara County Supervisor Janet Wolf announced she would not seek re-election, Goleta school boardmember and Democrat Susan Epstein filed a “candidate intention form” to succeed her in the 2nd District.

Epstein said the form allows her to legally talk to people about running and to accept contributions. “I’m grateful for all the support I’m receiving,” she said in an email. “I plan to have an official announcement soon.”

Santa Barbara City Councilmember Gregg Hart, a Democrat, is also known to be interested in the seat but has not officially filed. He has not denied plans to run.

Republicans, meanwhile, are scrambling to find someone to support. GOP central committee chair Tom Widroe said several people have shown interest but no one has committed.

They don’t have much time; the primary election is next June. If multiple candidates decide to run, the race would likely be decided in a November runoff. The filing deadline is March 14, 2018.

Democrats have a more than comfortable advantage. They make up 47 percent of registered voters, while Republicans represent just 24 percent. Decline to state voters also make up 24 percent. The district includes Eastern Goleta Valley, Hope Ranch, and parts of the City of Santa Barbara. A total of 51,501 voters live there.

Given the disparity, several Republican sources said Republicans might want to coalesce around a moderate Democrat. A conservative has not won the 2nd District supervisorial seat since the late Jeanne Graffy was elected 23 years ago. In 2006, Wolf beat conservative Dan Secord by 4.6 percentage points. At the time, Democrats had less of a voter registration lead.

In other 2018 Santa Barbara County races, Auditor-Controller Theo Fallati — who was appointed to the position after Bob Geis retired in February 2016 — filed candidate intention papers to run for the seat. Geis held the position for 25 years. Fallati did not return an email request for comment.

Jen Christensen — who ran for the 1st District seat last year — said she is “seriously considering” running for county auditor-controller. She said a number of people have encouraged her “particularly in light of the serious and ongoing issues with that department.”

District Attorney Joyce Dudley and Sheriff Bill Brown both filed candidate intention forms to retain their posts.


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