In deference to the maritime tragedy off Santa Cruz Island that claimed 34 lives, this year’s Labor Day event — the official start of political season for Democratic Party activists and their chosen candidates — was unusually reserved. None of the usual speechifying took place, and none of the drama expected between supporters of Supervisor Das Williams and his challenger, Laura Capps — both running for 1st District supervisor — transpired.
In fact, most Democratic candidates chose not to speak, and party heavyweights like Congressmember Salud Carbajal, State Assemblymember Monique Limón, and State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson never showed, appearing instead at Sheriff Bill Brown’s press conference on the boat conflagration. Williams did, however, call for a moment of silence, adding, “If we have to go on having such events, it’s good to do so together as a community.”
For a county relatively small in population, Williams noted, Santa Barbara had endured more than its share of mass casualty events. Alluding to recent mass shootings, Williams said Democrats responded to such tragedies by promoting policies designed to minimize their likelihood of reoccurrence. That was as pointed as it got.
Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo was on hand and confirmed she was indeed thinking of running for State Senate, but only if Limón chose not to. Limón has kept her intentions in the dark, much to the consternation of candidates trying to plot their future courses of action. Limón has reportedly been assured a major leadership role in the Assembly. The Senate post opens up next year, when incumbent Jackson’s term expires due to term limits — and she has been very vocal in her preference for Limón to run for her seat.
In the most immediate elections — this November for four seats on the Santa Barbara City Council — two races attracted only one candidate each. The current office holders effectively won, and the City Council appointed Meagan Harmon and Oscar Gutierrez officially on August 21.
In the race for District 1 — the Eastside — incumbent Jason Dominguez faces a challenge from Cruzito Cruz and Alejandra Gutierrez. District 2 — the Mesa — is an open race, pitting longtime planning commissioner Michael Jordan, Mesa activist Teri Jori, millennial environmentalist Tavis Boise, Realtor Brian Campbell, and attorney Luis Esparza. The Democratic Party endorsed Alejandra Gutierrez in District 1 and Jordan in District 2. Should Mayor Murillo run for the State Senate and win next year, that begs the question of her successor. One name frequently mentioned is the Mesa’s Councilmember Randy Rowse, now being termed out by the city’s term limits measure.