Jonathan Abboud | Credit: Courtesy

It appears that Laura Capps may have already cleared the field of any serious challengers in her quest to become the county’s next 2nd District supervisor, well before the first day that prospective candidates are legally able to file their letters of intent with county election officials. 

Capps, now serving her second term on the Santa Barbara school board, has been bombarding the media with an impressive array of high-profile endorsements — including the likes of Congressmember Salud Carbajal, District Attorney Joyce Dudley, all the former female county supervisors still alive, and the Laborers International Union of North America, Local 220. It worked. Her most viable Democratic rival, Jonathan Abboud — general manager of the Isla Vista Community Services District and a member of the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees — announced this Friday he would not be running.

Abboud, a talented political activist with deep roots in Isla Vista and the party’s progressive wing, had let it be known he was seriously interested in running for the 2nd District when the current occupant of the seat — Gregg Hart — announced that he would be running for the State Assembly; but Abboud never officially declared. He said he would elaborate further early next week but explained he could see the necessary level of support was not there.

Both Capps and Abboud are major players within the local Democratic Party firmament, but they represent different wings. The prospect of a Capps–Abboud showdown elicited serious concern among many party activists of another inter-party bloodbath. Two years ago, Capps took on 1st District Supervisor Das Williams — also a liberal Democrat — and lost. For many, the scars from that campaign have yet to fully heal.

Triggering this game of musical chairs are the redistricting efforts that recently concluded at the state and county levels. Based on the new maps, Santa Barbara no longer shares an Assembly district with Ventura County as it has for several decades; it is now comprised almost entirely of all of Santa Barbara County with a small fingernail jutting into San Luis Obispo County. 

For Supervisor Hart, who has long yearned to serve in Sacramento, the lure of these more hospitable boundaries proved irresistible. Currently, he is facing a contest now with Santa Barbara City Planning Commissioner Gabe Escobedo. In that race, Hart is regarded the odds-on favorite. Should Hart prevail as the political bookmakers expect, that opens up the newly configured 2nd Supervisorial District, which now — for the first time ever — includes Isla Vista and parts of Goleta. 

Although the names of other prospective candidates are whispered — Goleta Councilmember Roger Aceves being one — they are for the time being just that: whispers. The deadline to file for the supervisorial seat is March 11. The soonest candidates can file is next Monday. 


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