Contenders on Goleta Ballot Include Council, Sales Tax, Flavored Tobacco

Roger Aceves and Sam Ramirez Make It Official

Sam Ramirez (left) and Roger Aceves | Credit: Courtesy; Fritz Olenberger

Sam Ramirez and Roger Aceves have formalized their run for Goleta City Council, announcing in the past 10 days that they are officially in the races headed for November 2022. This will be the first election in Goleta to choose councilmembers by the fledgling district divisions finalized in March. Also on the ballot will be an ask to Goleta voters to ban the sale of flavored tobacco from city stores and another ask for a one-cent-per-dollar increase in sales tax.

Aceves is running in District 1, which is the northeast quadrant of the city. He faces newcomer Luz Reyes-Martín, who is on the Goleta school board and the community liaison with Planned Parenthood. Ramirez seeks the seat to represent District 2 — facing off with James Kyriaco, who is a first-term councilmember, serving for four years — which is the district for Old Town. Reyes-Martín and Kyriaco have each been endorsed by the local Democratic committee.

Aceves is well-known to Goleta, having served on the council since 2006, winning election four times before. Formerly with the Sheriff’s Office and an officer with the Santa Barbara Police Department, where his career included crisis negotiations, Aceves stated in his announcement that he puts road maintenance, parks, and fiscal responsibility first. “Just as you prioritize your spending, so should the City of Goleta. It’s why I don’t support the increase in sales tax,” Aceves said. He’s been active with a number of nonprofit organizations, most notably Old Spanish Days, United Boys & Girls Clubs, and Pacific Pride Foundation.

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Ramirez has lived in Goleta for the past four years and has served as a Goleta planning commissioner for just over a year. He was nominated by Kyriaco to the Planning Commission. Ramirez stated he has strong roots in the Goleta community but sees many problems with local government and a need for leadership. “We have so much to be proud of in our district but still work to do when it comes to housing costs, traffic, addressing homelessness, supporting our local businesses, and public safety. We need leadership that listens … acts … with a clear vision for the future,” he stated in his announcement. Ramirez is currently in human resources with the City of Santa Barbara, holds a BA in government from Cal State Sacramento, and coaches his daughter’s AYSO soccer team.

Goleta had approved an ordinance to ban the sale of flavored tobacco last September, as an addictive source of nicotine aimed at teenagers through candy-flavored vape cartridges. The industry fought back with a petition campaign — that was accused of misrepresenting the petition, saying it was to ban, not permit, flavored tobacco sales — and garnered enough signatures to force the city to decide whether to repeal the ordinance or put it to a vote. Though California passed a ban in 2020, a proposition on November’s ballot seeks to overturn the ban. For Goleta to stop flavored tobacco sales, the city chose to bring it to the voters, said city spokesperson Kelly Hoover.

The impact of the tobacco industry continues to be felt, as Proposition 31 to overturn California’s ban on the sale of tobacco flavors like fruit, candy, and mint is financed by Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, and ITG Brands — manufacturer of Kool and Winston cigarettes — according to Ballotpedia. Opponents include Governor Newsom, American Cancer Society, and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Goleta voters will also choose in November whether or not to tax themselves by another penny on the dollar — raising sales tax to 8.75 percent, the same amount paid in Santa Barbara and Lompoc — money that would go entirely to the city. Currently, property and sales taxes must be shared with the County of Santa Barbara, a legacy agreement from the city’s incorporation in 2002 that Goleta has not been able to break. During discussions in June, city officials noted the approximately $10 million raised would go to much-needed road maintenance, plans like creeks and watershed management, and increased costs for services from the Sheriff’s Office. The taxes paid in Goleta that went to the county totaled more than $7 million last year.

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