Gregg Hart left such big shoes to fill on the Santa Barbara City Council that no fewer than 12 applicants have filed paperwork seeking the council’s appointment to replace him on the dais. Hart was elected to the county supervisors in November with nearly four years left on his term. The council is scheduled to name a temporary replacement in two weeks. Voters will decide in November his permanent successor. Of the 12, only one — Grant House — has served on the council before. The others bring with them a rich and varied range of professional and political experiences.
Gina Fischer works for 3rd District County Supervisor Joan Hartmann and has been active in Democratic Party field operations; Scott Wenz of Cars Are Basic has been a vocal critic of alternative transportation strategies that seek to de-emphasize the primacy of the automobile; Mark Whitehurst publishes Santa Barbara’s Voice Magazine; Bonnie Raisin, a longtime conservative activist associated with Republican causes, has run before and has a record of speaking before the council dating back nearly 30 years; Connie Speight, a Realtor, has worked with the Rape Crisis Center and done elephant rescue work with the zoo; Brittany Heaton has a senior position with County Public Works and chairs the Neighborhood Advisory Council; Matthew Nehmer is executive director of the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law; Julia Lara is a program director with the Foodbank and serves on the Behavioral Wellness Commission; Gabriel Escobedo works for UCSB as intramural coordinator; Meghan Harmon is an attorney; and Kate Carter founded LifeChronicles, a video production service that focuses on people in their later years.
The council has scheduled a special evening session to hear presentations from the applicants on February 5; the appointment has been scheduled for the following week. Four votes are necessary. The appointment lasts only one year. Voters will select a permanent replacement during the November election in which three other council seats are up for grabs.