County Supervisor Gregg Hart is still mulling over whether he intends to jump from his safe seat on the supervisors’ dais and run for Santa Barbara’s newly drawn state assembly district — or stay where he is. “I hope to have an answer by next week,” he said.
Hart, who represents the 2nd Supervisorial District, is considered almost a shoo-in for either seat. With more than 30 years of electoral experience, Hart — bureaucratically and politically smart and savvy — is a bulwark of the local Democratic Party and is endowed with bulging campaign coffers.
Whatever Hart decides, a chain reaction of political musical chairs will quickly ensue. Such speculation has become a parlor game among political insiders. The new state lines, adopted in the final days of 2021, create for the first time a new assembly district that encompasses all of Santa Barbara County with only a slight intrusion into San Luis Obispo County. This ends a district that, for decades, has straddled portions of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Currently, that district is represented by Steve Bennett, an Ojai resident who was a Ventura County supervisor for years.
Hart is weighing the pros and cons. The present Santa Barbara Board of supervisors is an unusually collegial bunch despite key ideological differences among its five members, and Hart has been able to impact key policies on criminal justice reform, homeless issues, and climate change. But Hart has also long had an itch to serve in Sacramento, where, he said, he could play a role at a higher level on many of the same matters.
With either decision, he will have to run for office this June.
CORRECTION: This story’s headline and subtitle were updated 1/6/21.