This article is part of an ongoing series of candidate profiles ahead of the General Election on November 3, 2020. Stay tuned to our Election 2020 page for all of our latest profiles and election coverage.
With two seats open and three candidates running, the race for Carpinteria City Council heats up as November’s General Election approaches. Former BMX champion and current mayor Wade Nomura, nonprofit professional and licensed marriage and family therapist Natalia Alarcon, and former SBCC instructor Mark McIntire battle for council supremacy.
Carpinteria has consistently balanced the desire to maintain its small-town feel with increasing calls for economic development, with the City Council race focused on a few hot-button topics. The long-burning issue of cannabis cultivation is still smoldering in the minds of some Carpinterians who feel the industry has adversely affected the town’s air quality and community charm. Economic and educational recovery plans in the age of COVID-imposed restrictions continue to split the population. And proposed developments along the Carpinteria bluffs and Linden Avenue have also surfaced as contentious topics in the election.
The two seats open this fall are currently held by Wade Nomura, current mayor and City Councilmember who wishes to return for another term, and Councilmember Fred Shaw, who is vacating his position.
Wade Nomura, a Carpinteria local since 1976, has served on the Carpinteria City Council since 2012 as well as headed up some major organizations along the Central Coast for decades. As president of the Santa Barbara Japanese American Citizen League, he has aided Asian-American businesses and citizens throughout Carpinteria. Additionally, he has been active in the Rotary International, serving as its governor from 2011 to 2012 and providing quality-of-life improvements to populations around the globe. As a younger man, Nomura developed the Nomura BMX bike and raced it to numerous championships, earning him an induction into the Japanese-American National Museum Hall of Fame in 2001.
Nomura is proud of his response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, citing his creation of two separate committees. As the coronavirus outbreak spread to the Central Coast, Nomura created the COVID-19 committee, which aided in the dissemination and efficient distribution of news-related updates for the general public. As the store closures and economic restrictions stretched on, he established the economic recovery group, a committee designed to focus on successful reopening for local businesses.
Looking toward the future, Nomura seeks to continue and expand his bilingual community involvement. Additionally, he hopes to establish a blue-ribbon committee, focused on governance policies and social equity. But most of all, Nomura wants “Carp to stay Carp.”
“I’m committed to keeping the small-town charm,” Nomura said. “We have a lot of community pride, and I never want that to disappear.”
As Councilmember Fred Shaw prepares to vacate his position, a protégé is stepping into the running for his seat. Natalia Alarcon, a Central Coast local, is stepping up to provide transparency and communication between the City Council and the people. A veteran of numerous Central Coast nonprofits, Alarcon believes her extensive experience providing support and assistance to the people of Carpinteria and Santa Barbara gives her the knowledge and technique to faithfully represent the people of Carpinteria. While she is the youngest candidate on the ballot, she has a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University and has worked closely with the community for years through her time at the Family Services Agency and the Community Action Commission.
“I applaud the city’s response to coronavirus; it just wasn’t fast enough,” Alarcon said. “None of the candidates are really active on social media, and I think that’s really important for interacting with the public.”
She prides herself on being the most active candidate on social media, connecting with locals on Instagram and other social media platforms. Unsatisfied with how the current administration has handled the response to COVID-19, she plans to establish a more direct line of communication to, and from, the people, which she believes will lead to a more streamlined and receptive response to critical situations in town.
Mark McIntire recently announced his candidacy for city council on a decidedly different platform. McIntire made waves in the local community in 2018 when he successfully sued Santa Barbara City College after allegations arose surrounding his colleague, Michael Shermer, who was invited to campus by McIntire to give a lecture.
Originally from Boston, McIntire entered a seminary school and then a religious novitiate before becoming a professor of philosophy. After a string of lateral career moves, McIntire settled in Santa Barbara in 1994 and remained there until 2018. After his retirement, he moved to Carpinteria and remained active by co-hosting a podcast with Santa Barbara’s Alex Madajian.
McIntire is running on a platform of three issues, focused on the defense of public safety, the defense of property rights, and the return of educational control to parents. A staunch supporter of economic reform, McIntire stresses the importance of economic recovery specific to Carpinteria, in opposition to so-called “one-size-fits-all” responses.
“Carpinteria is not L.A. In L.A., you have people on top of each other. That is not Carpinteria…. That’s not even really Santa Barbara,” McIntire said. “And so our response has to be different.” Citing the success of the State Street pedestrian promenade, McIntire hopes to create a similar environment along Linden Avenue as his “pet project.”
He is diametrically opposed to defunding the police and first responders and says he defends the rights of property owners to prevent members of ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter from tearing down monuments and destroying private property, though nothing of the sort has been reported in Santa Barbara or Carpinteria. His support of educational reform seeks to loosen requirements on children attending public schools, allowing parents to choose how best to educate the Carpinteria youth.
Carpinteria City Council seats will be up for election as part of the November 3 General Municipal Election. While traditional programs such as Touring with Candidates and the General Election forum will not be held this year, additional information on individual candidates is available online.
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