After much handwringing and hemming-and-hawing, former Santa Barbara city councilmember Randy Rowse announced he will be running for mayor in this November’s race. “I’m doing it,” Rowse declared.
With 40 years in the restaurant business and 10 years on the council, Rowse is positioning himself as the voice of moderation and experience. He is also highlighting his lack of party affiliation, stating, “I’m not sure what party politics has to do with filling potholes.”
The three other candidates now running — incumbent Mayor Cathy Murillo, James Joyce III, and Planning Commissioner Deborah Schwartz — boast strong Democratic Party credentials. In this context, Rowse would present a clear alternative to their various hues of blue.
On the changes taking place on State Street, Rowse urged “a hard sober look.” He added, “Everyone seems to think State Street is a big blank canvas. I don’t buy that.” What will these changes mean for the city’s Fiesta and Solstice parades, he asked. Will people still want to eat outside once COVID subsides and they can go back inside? “We hear people say, ‘This is our Pearl Chase moment,’” he said, alluding the city’s former matriarch who helped impose the city’s signature red-tile-roof look after the earthquake of 1925. “I think it’s closer to a neutron bomb.” The process of planning downtown’s future, he said, requires many years.
Rowse — who had grown visibly impatient and frustrated with the council’s leftward tilt during his last two years — said he hopes his experience both in business and inside City Hall appeals to voters. Since stepping down after his term expired two years ago, he acknowledged yelling at his laptop a time or two. “What I don’t intend to do is Monday-morning quarterbacking and yelling insults from the cheap seats,” he stated. “That’s not how I roll.”