Reflections of a Political Neophyte (Emeritus)

Councilmember Rowse Waddles Off into the Sunset

Randy Rowse won appointment to Santa Barbara City Council in 2010. | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

The tar is heating, the feathers have been gathered and the rail selected … I’m about to be shown the door at City Hall courtesy of term limits. Of course, being Santa Barbara, the tar is actually color-enhanced jojoba oil, the feathers are gathered molts from a cage-free egg farm, and the rail is not a rainforest hardwood, more likely bamboo, so please allay your initial concerns. I reflect fondly on my colleagues and the service we performed over these past nine years … for the most part.

Political calculus remains as mystifying to me as did high school calculus, and so I often played the part of Lone Ranger when it came to policy making. Neither of the major political parties is worth the bunting on the 4th of July bandstand, in my opinion, particularly when it comes to local civic service. Prevalent party influence has made the last couple of years harder, meaning that it stood in the way of doing what is best for the people of Santa Barbara as opposed to some remote dictums.

So, firmly ensconced as the outgoing Senior Cranky Curmudgeon, I have the following observations:

Councilmember Rowse and then-mayor Helene Schneider during a prolonged discussion on district elections in 2015.

First, the city’s organization is mostly populated by dedicated and talented people. As a career finger-wagger, I was humbled by this realization;

Second, it is very satisfying to perform small yet important tasks for the individuals you represent. City Hall should never be thought of as a white-walled fortress, yet sometimes we present ourselves as such;

Third, your public-safety personnel are absolutely amazing … think all of the recent natural disaster … ’nuff said;

Fourth, those who declare that they really “enjoy” campaigning should be dealt with cautiously. Smile, maintain steady eye contact, back away slowly, and keep one hand on your wallet. These are not “normal” people. Hopefully, there will someday be an antidote for this situation.

Lastly, “civility” is more than just advice from your mother; it is an essential element to any functioning body. It is as absent today as any time in my lifetime, and the Potomac Poison filters down to the local level when allowed. It’s not someone’s else’s fault nor their job to correct it. One hundred percent of eligible voters I speak to have distinct opinions, yet only a little more than 30 percent vote. Most of us aren’t crazy, even though some of us play that character on Channel 18 on Tuesdays, but people on camera are not the only ones who count.

In the meantime, it’s time for this wounded waterfowl to waddle off into the sunset.

Thank you for the opportunity.

Twice elected to City Council, Randy Rowse was appointed in 2010.


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