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There’s been a lot of news lately surrounding the 1st District supervisor’s race between incumbent Das Williams and political first-timer Laura Capps. I say first-timer because, as far as I know, Ms. Capps has never been elected to anything. So this is the first political race where her name appears on a ballot. And I suppose, as is typical when doing something for the first time, you enter into it with certain high-minded ideals and, dare I say, naïveté. And perhaps one of the areas that most first-time politicians are most naïve about is the importance of money. Money, as another old saying goes, is the mother’s milk of politics. If you try to get it out of politics, you’re inevitably going to fail.
It’s impossible to get money out of politics as long as the politicians who run government insist on inserting the large and heavy hand of the state into every nook and cranny of our personal and professional lives.
Laura Capps, who seems like a nice and charming woman, isn’t running a race around a set of policies and reforms that would suggest she’s interested in limiting the size or cost of government. She seems more interested in limiting the cost of campaigns. Now, to be fair, Das isn’t especially interested in limiting the size and cost of government either. Both of them are self-proclaimed “progressives” who seem to believe that more government involvement in our local economy is the right approach, and that more government spending on the problems we face as a society is just what the doctor ordered, and that higher, especially higher regressive taxes, to address shortcomings identified by a county staff that lives or dies on discretionary revenues is an inherently sensible and even a moral idea.
I couldn’t disagree more.
Recently, a political mailer in support of Das Williams was injected into our local political bloodstream, causing clots, cold-sweats, and aneurysms throughout the body politic. The creators of the mailer have been the subject of numerous questions from Nick Welsh and Jerry Roberts, both of who, by the way, are quite the local muckrakers.
Jerry and Nick have been relentless in asking who’s behind the mailer? Who’s funding it? And what are the motives of the slippery political operatives involved with it? And why the hell is Joe Armendariz featured in one of the mailers? How can Armendariz support Williams? Certainly everybody knows Joe is more interested in demolishing county government, cutting local taxes to the quick, and putting oil rigs in every city and county park. Das Williams supports none of that. So what gives?
Well, Nick, Jerry, you’re absolutely right. Das does not want or support any of that. And neither do I. But here’s what I believe Das Williams does want and does support. Das wants public policies that empower working people and economically marginal families so that they are better able to climb the economic ladder to a better and higher quality of life.
I believe Das also believes it is better for our communities when working families are prospering economically.
I think Das believes it is better for our communities when essential programs and services are fully funded.
And I believe Das believes it is better for the taxpayers when government agencies are effective at the programs they manage, and the services they deliver.
Does Laura believe in these things too? Probably. Hopefully.
I’ve known and sparred politically with Das Williams going back to the mid-1990s when he was just a political whippersnapper. Das seemed to have the uncanny ability, at least from my philosophical perspective, to be on the wrong side of every issue. But when we disagreed, which was, well, all the time, he was civil, friendly, and very respectful. And so, for that reason alone, I like him.
And so, yes, the quote attributed to me in one of the infamous mailers is accurate, for the most part. A few months ago when we were debating about Donald Trump and whether or not Trump should be reelected, as part of my opening statement I said: “I also believe Das Williams should be reelected … ” Does that constitute an endorsement? I suppose to a certain extent it might. Does it mean I agree with Das’s portfolio of public policy positions? Not even close.
So then why did I say it? Because even though I have some good friends who disagree, in my view, Das has not done anything to merit being fired. Now, if Das were running against a conservative with a pro-business, pro-limited government, and pro-lower-tax mindset, and who was in favor of local ethical resource production, you know, somebody like Bruce Porter, I’d say throw the rascal out and elect his opponent because we have some North County public schools and public safety departments to fully fund. But Das isn’t running against a conservative. Heck, he’s not even running against a moderate.
I understand Das supports a particular industry that is out of favor with certain areas and communities in his district, including my old home of Carpinteria. That happens in politics. As a two-term city councilmember in Carpinteria, perhaps nobody serving before me or after me was more pro-oil than I am. A position that was not at all popular with a big majority of the community. And yet, I was elected and then easily reelected. Perhaps because the voters appreciated my unwavering commitment to the overall betterment of Carpinteria, my views on a single issue notwithstanding.
I believe Das is committed to the overall betterment of Santa Barbara County, including the small coastal towns of Carpinteria, Summerland, and Montecito. I really believe that. Now, if I can somehow disabuse him of almost everything he thinks he “knows” but that just ain’t so, well, maybe Santa Barbara County could become the envy of California and the country.
Editor’s Note: Though Nick Welsh asked many questions about the mailer, the stories in the Santa Barbara Independent were written by Delaney Smith.