The race for Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools has quickly become one of the most contentious of the local election cycle, as physical education teacher Christy Lozano takes on incumbent Susan Salcido, and national fears regarding students learning about race and gender become major platforms for voters leaning toward the right.
The race has been one of the most dramatic, beginning when Lozano took to Fox News to condemn the Santa Barbara Unified School District for providing resources for teachers on how to discuss topics such as race, sexuality, gender, and autism.
Another incident adding fuel to the fire occurred after the League of Women Voters organized and publicized a candidates’ forum that was meant to take place on Thursday, May 12. The event ended up being canceled on Wednesday, May 11, after the league stated Lozano had refused to sign the league’s standard release form. Lozano disagreed with rules such as not addressing a candidate’s character, qualifications, or activities.
After the cancelation, the Coalition for Neighborhood Schools (CNS) attempted to hold another forum at the same time. CNS reached out to Salcido’s campaign about six hours before their forum was scheduled to take place, but Salcido declined, citing prior engagements and too-short notice.
After Salcido declined to attend, CNS made numerous phone calls, voicemails, and emails to Salcido’s campaign manager, Ruth Loomer, who said that “the organizers threatened in writing to tell the media Susan ‘refused to participate.’” Loomer then stated that Salcido would not be participating in any forum held by CNS, claiming the group used “unprofessional and inappropriate” calls, including one voicemail Loomer received from Roseanne Crawford, a member of the steering committee for CNS.
In the voicemail acquired by the Independent, Crawford is heard saying that she would not vote for a candidate that won’t participate in a nonpartisan forum. “I will turn people against [Salcido], and I have a lot of influential circles in this town,” Crawford says. “So, please, pull up the panties and get with the program.”
When questioned about this voicemail, Crawford told the Independent she “was trying to motivate [Salcido] to realize [the forum] was time-sensitive.”