District elections have been a great success in the City of Santa Barbara. The last time the City Council had three members on it with a Spanish surname was in 1857.
A number of people played key roles in the original transition to district elections in 2015, and the more recent effort to hold a special election in the Westside’s District Three and to place a charter amendment on this November’s ballot that will result in future vacancies being filled by election. Jacqueline Inda served as leader of the special election effort, and she was assisted on the District Elections Committee by Sebastian Aldana. The wisdom and perseverance of retired Judge Frank Ochoa were also essential. Other plaintiffs in the original lawsuit against the city that established district elections were Frank Banales and Ben Cheverez. They were represented by legal mastermind Barry Cappello and supported by former City Councilmember Leo Martinez.
There is no question that district elections are leading to greater diversity on the Santa Barbara City Council.