I worked off and on with Santa Barbara mayors for over 20 years as General Manager of the Carpinteria Valley Water District. I learned about their very important but limited role in a weak mayor/strong administrator structure. It is quite a different role from the one I experienced during the years I worked for the City of Boston and Mayor Kevin White in the 1970s, where the mayor functions as CEO, managing through deputy mayors and others appointed by the mayor.
Santa Barbara mayors, with lots of official duties, act as ombudsmen for members of the public, and behind-the-scene coordinators and facilitators with elected City Council members relative to Council business and policy. They are not expected to make lots of political pronouncements. They lead from within, working closely with the City Administrator, in ways mostly unseen and unknown to the general public. Mayor Murillo has done all of this as Mayor for almost four years in the most extraordinary and overwhelming of times.
She has faced a pandemic and its severe economic repercussions, the widespread ripple effects after George Floyd’s murder by a police officer, the rapidly emerging effects of climate change, and strong market driven forces impacting our city’s housing shortage. She has responded as Mayor by working long days and many nights with City Council Members, the City Administrator, community groups and many individual residents of Santa Barbara.
Mayor Murillo is uniquely approachable by members of the large Mexican American community in Santa Barbara and uniquely experienced as a former local journalist in obtaining, organizing and re-communicating information from all members of the Santa Barbara community.
She has demonstrated her ability and commitment as Mayor to work with people from all strata of the Santa Barbara community, including the homeless, the very poor, the shrinking middle class, and local business people as well as developers from outside.
And last but not least she is steadfastly committed to liberal Democratic principles of diversity, women’s rights, and all human rights. We need to stay the course with Cathy!