With this November’s Santa Barbara City Council elections nearly three months away, two candidates have already won for lack of any opponent: incumbents Meagan Harmon and Oscar Gutierrez. The only question is whether the council appoints them to the post. The appointment option would save City Hall an estimated $106,000, reflecting the cost of printing and mailing the ballots and candidate statements to voters in Districts 3 and 6, which Gutierrez and Harmon currently represent.
This marks the first time since district elections were initiated in 2015 that there have been any uncontested races. Among the arguments made by proponents of district elections was that campaigns would be cheaper — district-wide, not citywide — and more candidates could afford to run.
Harmon was appointed this year to fill the vacancy after Gregg Hart stepped off the council to assume a seat on the County Board of Supervisors.
This leaves two district races for which there’s a real contest. For District 1 — the Eastside — three candidates have qualified: incumbent Jason Dominguez and challengers Alejandra Gutierrez, who runs the Franklin Service Center, and Cruzito Cruz, a plaintiff in the lawsuit that precipitated the transition from at-large to district-wide elections. For District 2 — the Mesa — there are six: Planning Commissioner Michael Jordan, Teri Jori, Brian Campbell, Luis Esparza, and Tavis Boise.
Correction: The district numbers in the original version of this story have been corrected: Meagan Harmon represents District 6, Oscar Gutierrez District 3; District 1 (Eastside) and District 2 (the Mesa) will be on the ballot. Also, Oscar Gutierrez was elected, not appointed.