‘Santa Barbara Independent’ Endorsements for the November 2022 Election

Our Picks for State and Local Ballot Measures Plus South County Schools, Carpinteria, Goleta, Lompoc, Congress, and State Assembly Races

Our Endorsements
for the November Election

Our Picks for State and Local Ballot Measures
Plus South County Schools, Carpinteria, Goleta, Lompoc, Congress, and State Assembly Races

Credit: Courtesy
Catch up on our Election 2022 coverage here.

Over the next few weeks, the Santa Barbara Independent will be rolling out our endorsements for the November 2022 election. Check our Election 2022 section for continuing information on other candidate races, city measures, and state propositions. As always, the Independent only endorses in races that we have researched carefully. In this final installment, we are focusing on state propositions. Thank you for considering our suggestions.

Click on the section you’d like to read. You can hit the previous page button on your browser to return to the menu.
Proposition 1: Emphatically Yes
Propositions 26 and 27: No to Both
Proposition 28: Yes
Proposition 29: No
Proposition 30: No
Proposition 31: Yes
Measure T: No
Carpinteria City Council District 5: No Endorsement
South County School Boards
S.B. Unified School District, Area 1: Gabe Escobedo
S.B. Unified School District, Area 4: Rose Muñoz
Goleta Union School District, Area 1: Richard Mayer
Goleta Union School District, Area 3: Emily Zacarias
Hope School District, Area 5: Frann Wageneck
County Board of Education, Area 1: Marybeth Carty
Congress: Salud Carbajal
State Assembly: Gregg Hart
City of Goleta
City Council District 1: Luz Reyes-Martín
City Council District 2: James Kyriaco
Measure B: Yes
Measure C: Yes
City of Lompoc Mayor: Jenelle Osborne
SBCC Board of Trustees: Marsha Croninger & Charlotte Gullap-Moore

Proposition 1: Emphatically Yes

Few choices could be as profoundly important when it comes to the pursuit of happiness — enshrined in the U.S. Constitution as “an inalienable right”— as whether to have children, when, and under what circumstances.

The five Catholic members of the United States Court repealed that right earlier this year when they reversed Roe v. Wade. Proposition 1 is not merely a necessary response and remedy to the court’s action. True, the California Constitution has long recognized reproductive freedom, but that language — rooted in the right to privacy — suffers from the same legal vulnerabilities used by the court majority to undo Roe.

Proposition 1 makes explicit that reproductive choice — not merely privacy and all that privacy  implies — is protected in the state constitution. It’s worth noting that former justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself fretted that Roe v. Wade went too far too fast and believed as a matter of politics and jurisprudence that reproductive rights would be more resistant to attack if states were to adopt their own protections.

California — as one of the most politically influential states in the nation — needs to send an unequivocal message affirming freedom of choice. No, we are not under immediate attack right now. But others are. And we could be soon. Please vote yes.

Propositions 26 and 27: No to Both

We get it; gambling is built into the human genome. That acknowledgement aside, there’s so much to hate about these two propositions that we don’t quite know where to start.

First, there’s the nakedly deceptive ad campaigns that have been pummeling us everywhere. And then there’s the ungodly sum — $400 million — spent by gambling interests to persuade us that the few token crumbs they’ve offered in exchange for the staggering concessions they seek is somehow an acceptable deal.

Prop. 26 would allow in-person all-sports betting at racetracks and tribal gambling casinos. Prop. 27 would allow online gambling outside of tribal lands. In exchange, state and local governments are only promised a small percentage of the take.

To both, our short-term response is the following: Vote no. Long-term, of course, we believe any expansion of legalized gambling should be done principally for, by, and of state and local governments to fund the myriad of much-needed programs that cry out for funding. 

Proposition 28: Yes

If passed, Prop. 28 would set aside $1 billion more for desperately needed art and music instruction in public schools. This makes sense in so many ways. Our children need to know there’s so much more to life than computer literacy and scientific competence. The opportunity to express oneself in music or art is essential to the development of human beings, and for students challenged by other disciplines, music and art offer alternate pathways to success. 

And yes, scientific research demonstrates that music and art stimulate the development of those parts of the brain most critical for mathematical and scientific reasoning. To the extent the human species has positively distinguished itself over the eons, it’s most joyfully been through its music and its art. We need to nurture our better angels, not ignore them. Vote yes on Prop. 28. 

Proposition 29: No

We don’t pretend to think we’re competent enough to render an informed opinion as to how many medical professionals — and what kind — should be on hand while kidney patients receive dialysis treatment. We don’t believe many of you are either. This question should not be on the ballot, yet year after year after year, the warring special interests fighting over dialysis staffing levels keep spending hundreds of millions of dollars asking us to decide. Behind it all is a long festering knock-down drag-out between a gargantuan operator providing dialysis treatment and the union representing its workers. The money squandered by both sides — each one has set new spending records — could better have been spent on hiring more staff and paying better wages. But it wasn’t. Please vote no.

Proposition 30: No

This may, in fact, be a good idea, but its time has definitely not yet come. Prop. 30 would increase the personal income taxes of people earning $2 million or more a year by 1.75 percent and using a big chunk of the proceeds to underwrite the cost of rebates for electrical vehicles and a smaller chunk to hire more firefighters. Sounds good, right?

Here are the problems. First, there is still money in the California kitty designated to give EV rebates to low- and middle-class drivers. Secondly, the Inflation Reduction Act — passed at the instigation of President Joe Biden and the Democratic Congress — has set aside untold billions for the same purpose. California has $300 million in federal dollars already on the way to help spur the construction of EV charging stations. In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act has created tax incentives to help subsidize companies in low-income neighborhoods build on-site charging stations. The feds are also providing $7,500 rebates for customers buying new EVs, which the Inflation Reduction Act is greatly expanding in certain ways. Under the new rules, the cap on the number of cars that can be purchased with such rebates will be eliminated, but new rules will be imposed requiring that the rebates be used to buy cars built in America and within certain price parameters. 

The impact of that massive infusion has yet to be even felt. It’s too soon to conclude we need to spend more. Vote no.

Proposition 31: Yes

Big Tobacco has aggressively marketed these new tobacco products to younger consumers in hopes of creating new generations of addicts. Prop. 31 ratifies a state law passed in 2020 that would ban retail sales of such products. Of the many addictive substances on the planet, tobacco is among the hardest to quit. The health impacts are obvious as are the social costs we all bear. Vote yes to vote no to Big Tobacco.

Measure T: No

A rendering of the Surfliner Inn | Credit: Courtesy

It wasn’t so long ago that the Venoco Oil Company tried to by-pass the City of Carpinteria’s protective  development review process in order to gain back-door approval for 35 slant drilling wells right off the city’s coast. Since Venoco knew the city’s elected leaders would never agree to such a proposal, the company decided to take its case — filled with glitteringly unfounded promises of $200 million in new tax revenues — directly to the voters in the form of a ballot initiative known as Measure J. Let the people decide, the oil company urged. What’s wrong with a little direct democracy? 

Venoco soon found out the answer.  The company and their Measure J  got slaughtered at the polls. It didn’t help that one of the great oil spills of the last century exploded in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time Venoco sought to assure Carpinteria voters that the risks of offshore drilling were infinitesimal.  But even without that spill — brought to you by British Petroleum Oil — Measure J was a bad idea whose time was over. 

The historic battle over Measure J, in part, illustrates why we are deeply opposed to Measure T, now on the ballot this November. Its true intention is to stop a two-story hotel on Linden Avenue from being built.  The hotel in question would be on land that is currently two downtown public parking lots. One  is zoned Commercial Planned Development and Open Space. The other, merely Open Space. If voters were to approve Measure T, it would change the zoning for both lots allowing only recreational open space.  No residential uses would be allowed. 

In other words, no hotel.

In our estimation, Measure T is too clever by half. Nowhere in its text, for example,  is the proposed hotel — known as the Surfliner — even mentioned.  We think proponents of ballot measures should be upfront about what they’re doing and why. 

Of even greater concern  is Measure T’s unwarranted effort to bypass the city’s design review process. Carpinteria is famous for how fiercely protective its residents are of their community’s character and way of life. They show up and they vote. They don’t go quietly into any developers’ good night.  And they elect councilmembers who reflect Carpinteria’s community sentiments or else.

We get it; not everyone likes hotels. For many residents, a new downtown hotel where beachfront parking is currently located qualifies as too much too fast. But there is another way to look at this that is a positive for the whole city. 

 We like the idea that the hotel is located strategically close to Carpinteria’s Amtrak station. Visitors can come and go by train. Train tourism, it’s actually a thing.  Although Carpinteria’s finances are in pretty good shape, $651,000 per year in new bed tax revenues is nothing to sneeze at. And since the proposed hotel must still go through an additional city approval process, this will be the opportunity to demand community benefits.  For example, require the hotel provide gathering space for Carpinteria groups and nonprofits to meet and hold celebrations. This is the time to ensure Carpinteria citizens get the best design possible and the best deal too. We are confident that can be achieved and this is not the time to shut down the whole process. 

We say that because it’s taken seven long years to get the proposed project to this point. Say what you like about the hotel, but there’s no credible evidence to indicate this plan has been crammed down the community’s throat. There have been no backdoor subterfuges or end runs around the system. No, this has been a city-sponsored project from the very start and there have been umpteen procedural votes every step of the way and each one has been held publicly out in the open. 

In fact, the development team was only brought in three years ago. One member of that team — reviled by some proponents of Measure T as “an outsider” — has lived in Carpinteria with his family for seven years. Of course, in Santa Barbara County,living in one place for seven years may not qualify anyone as a true “local,” but it certainly doesn’t qualify him as an “outside developer” either.

Carpinteria’s planning commission and city council should be allowed to do what they were elected and appointed to do. Review the proposed hotel, make it better, or vote it down. It’s their job, and they should be allowed to do it. 

Measure T would rezone the two parking lot parcels to make them recreational open space. As such, they’d need to be rezoned to allow for the proposed hotel. And under Measure T, that would require a vote of the people. That strikes us as overkill. Cities are living, breathing organisms that need to be able to act with nimbleness and flexibility. That means a functioning city government, which, fortunately, Carpinteria has.  Measure T would undermine a thoughtful, time-consuming, democratic process. 

Carpinterians rallied to the defense of their city’s development review process in the face of Venoco’s cynical threat with Measure J back in 2010. We hope they’ll do so again.

Carpinteria City Council District 5: No Endorsement

Technically this is a three-way race, but to our mind, it’s really a choice between councilmembers Al Clark and Gregg Carty, two men who have served with distinction for 16 years.  Both Clark — a 35-year resident of Carpinteria — and Carty — a 60-year resident — have dedicated themselves to serving the greater Carpinteria community; both have demonstrated personal bravery in protecting what they believe makes Carpinteria, Carpinteria. It pains us greatly that district elections have forced these two men to compete against one another for one council seat, forcing residents to choose between two excellent candidates. And we regret that we cannot full-heartedly recommend one man over the other. As a result, we are offering no endorsement. 

Both men played major roles in the passage of a recent sales tax bump that generates up to $4 million a year in additional revenues for City Hall. Clark played a key role winning passage of Carpinteria’s pioneering vote to ban reusable plastic bags, and Carty pushed for the end of Styrofoam cups at the city’s annual Avocado Festival. Both Clark and Carty pushed the city  to ban chain stores from downtown, a major step in preserving Carpinteria’s small-town charm.

Of the two, Clark — a registered Democrat — has been the most fiercely protective against the threat of what he terms “overdevelopment.” Often, Clark, smart, acerbic, and analytical, casts the sole dissenting vote. When Caltrans and SBCAG were telling Carpinteria to take it or leave it over the freeway widening and the design of new freeway exits, Clark called their bluff at the bargaining table. He also pushed for Carpinteria’s ordinance restricting vacation rentals  demonstrating an ability to work with others to move the needle. 

However, we’re troubled by Clark’s lack of directness when it comes to Measure T, the ballot measure that would effectively kill the hotel without ever mentioning it by name. Clark has always opposed the hotel and is the only member of the council not to sign the ballot language opposing Measure T.  As he explains it,  Clark neither supports nor opposes Measure T. We’re not sure how that can be. Do the citizens of Carpinteria really need to be protected from their elected representatives? 

Carty, a registered Republican until becoming an Independent in recent years, has always sought to balance a healthy business climate with preservation of Carpinteria’s small-town charm. He is less focused on the specter of overdevelopment and more about creating a new community center, which also provides a place for seniors to meet. On the council, Carty is soft-spoken and congenial. He is more willing to work with the Chamber of Commerce to promote business in Carpinteria than Clark, who tends to view that organization with a jaundiced eye.  

However, when Venoco Oil took its slant drilling proposal directly to the ballot box in 2010, Carty strongly opposed it even though his sister-in-law  was leading the charge on behalf of the oil company. Given Carpinteria’s small-town politics, that had to have been tough. 

When Carty and Clark were elected 16 years ago, they ran as part of the same slate. Over time, however, their differences have become more apparent, with Carty finding his niche as part of a more pro-business majority and Clark consigned to the role of loyal slow-growth opposition. While we could not come to consensus on our endorsements, we hope this exercise in head-scratching helps you with your decision.

South County School Boards

Who in their right mind would want to run for school board in these times of rancor and rage? Yet candidates for this post abound. In fact, school board races have suddenly become some of the hottest down-ticket contests on the ballot, offering — among other things — localized battlegrounds for broader cultural wars playing out across the country on issues of race, sex, and equity. 

After spending the last three years responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts are returning to focus on their basic mandates. But the transition is anything but smooth. Many students have suffered significant learning losses, as well as COVID-infused mental-health challenges inflamed by enforced isolation. For teachers and administrators, high turnover is at critical mass; in Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) — we have just witnessed an unprecedented exodus among experienced executive staff.

In this election, long-simmering cultural battles — over such contentious issues as ethnic studies and sex education — have been bubbling. More cultural conservatives are vying for office than at any time since the early 1960s, when members of the John Birch Society said they were running to save the school districts’ children from creeping communism. 

At times — it must be acknowledged — the Santa Barbara district and its board members have been their own worst enemies in communicating how they are responding to the challenges of great transition. But just because a school board disagrees with some parents on certain issues doesn’t mean they aren’t listening to them, as our cultural conservatives are way too quick to claim. 

The Independent rejects the notion that ethnic studies inculcates white self-loathing or that an inclusive sex education curriculum qualifies as grooming for gay pedophiles, as has been alleged by certain candidates. This is fearmongering at its most unhinged and dangerous.

We don’t need to make up new and imaginary problems when we already have real ones staring us right in the face. 

For example, it is now clear that there is a profound and foundational weakness in how some school districts have been teaching younger students to read. New evidence — or perhaps old evidence recently reviewed — indicates that without a strong foundation in phonics, too many young readers are unable to achieve the proficiency levels for their ages. Literacy — it must be stressed — is not a “back to basics” conservative issue; it’s not a progressive issue. Instead, it’s a fundamental human rights issue. If you can’t read, you’re sunk. It doesn’t get more basic than that. 

Of all elected government positions, that of a school board member is by far the hardest and most thankless. To everyone willing to stick their necks out — even those with whom we disagree most strenuously — you’ve helped members of the community to focus on schools and the families they serve. Many thanks.

As always, we have not endorsed in every race, only in those where we were confident about the issues and candidates. 

S.B. Unified School District, Area 1: Gabe Escobedo

Gabe Escobedo | Credit: Courtesy

Of all the candidates, Gabe Escobedo has demonstrated the greatest grasp of the problems facing the Santa Barbara Unified School District. He brings a compassionate understanding to all sides of the issues, and, most importantly, the determination to close the chronic achievement gap that’s long separated students racially, ethnically, and economically in our community. 

Escobedo is a genuine, data-driven policy wonk with an open manner that suggests the ability to listen and to resolve conflict. 

Growing up in Ontario as the son of a single mother and an incarcerated father, he attributes the heroic intervention of teachers that prevented him from falling through the cracks himself. But he believes students should not have to rely on such blind good fortune to receive a strong, useful education. 

Escobedo — who serves on the City of Santa Barbara’s Planning Commission and works for UCSB organizing intramural sports — possesses a striking clarity of analysis and detailed notions of how to achieve this. He understands that the role of a school board member, though limited, can improve educational opportunities for all students. Number one is teaching the ability to read. The curriculum must have a strong phonics base. Also, students must be encouraged to succeed. Zero-tolerance policies are counterproductive and defeatist. Instead, he’s a proponent of restorative justice models that combine rehabilitation with accountability. He has the data and the experience to prove it.

Of the three candidates vying for this position, Escobedo has had the most hours serving on government boards and committees. Most recently, he chaired the city commission suggesting proposals for a police review board. While that process had its bumpy times, we’re hopeful the experience will prepare Escobedo for the sort of high-impact compromises that are often necessary under the glaring polarization of the school district.

Of the other candidates running, we were favorably impressed by Dan La Berge, whose Mothers’ Helpers nonprofit has provided thousands of schoolkids with the supplies and support they need. We hope to see him continue his interest in school board issues. 

But in this District 1 SBUSD election, vote for Gabe Escobedo.

S.B. Unified School District, Area 4: Rose Muñoz

Rose Muñoz | Credit: Courtesy

If there’s a mean bone in Rose Muñoz’s body, it would take a forensic anthropologist to find it. Given how polarized things have gotten at school board meetings, that’s not an inconsequential attribute.

Muñoz — who has served on the board now four years and is going for a second term — is the classic sort of citizen-activist representative all school boards should have. For the past 20 years, she’s worked as a social worker for CenCal, a mega insurance provider for those on Medi-Cal. She and her husband — who live in Noleta behind the Magnolia shopping center — have put their two daughters through district schools, giving Muñoz a boots-on-the-ground awareness of how some students fare better than others. It’s not so much of an anecdotal, random thing in Muñoz’s estimation, but a systemic issue that needs to be addressed.

In person, Muñoz talks enthusiastically about dual-language immersion programs, expanded after-school care, expanded vocational instruction, and dealing with the crushing need for more affordable housing to staunch the whiplash-inducing turnover of district teachers. From the dais, however, Muñoz is soft-spoken in the extreme. Now that she has four years of seasoning under her belt — one as board president — we’re hoping to see Muñoz come out of her cocoon more, show greater initiative, and jump in headfirst. 

Goleta Union School District, Area 1: Richard Mayer

Richard Mayer | Credit: Courtesy

After serving 40 years on the Goleta Union School District now — 10 terms! — Richard Mayer, a UCSB educational psychology professor specializing in how people learn math, science, and the art of reading, is still raring to go. His enthusiasm is palpable; he all but bounces with a sense of joy, mission, and purpose. He understands the Goleta school system inside and out, from its infrastructure to its curriculum, and is justifiably proud of the district’s achievements: small class size, a proven dual-language program, a welcoming environment, counselors on campus, a social justice task force, and a strong research-based phonics system for reading. Mayer said the research data is unequivocal. During his many years on the district’s curriculum committee, he and his colleagues figured out that a bottom-up collaboration between board members, teachers, administrators, and parents yields better results with a lot less disharmony than a top-down approach. Mayer’s expertise, style, and hard work over the years have made a major contribution to the Goleta School District success. His opponent, Caroline Abate, despite being perhaps the most polite Trump supporter and anti-vaccination activist on the South Coast, brings irrelevant and disruptive issues to a school district focused on moving forward. Vote for Richard Mayer. 

Goleta Union School District, Area 3: Emily Zacarias

Emily Zacarias | Credit: Courtesy

Smart, tough, and compassionate, Emily Zacarias is exactly what a great Goleta school board member looks like. A professional special education teacher, Zacarias comes loaded with practical, invaluable, in-the-trenches experience.

Her opponent is Christy Lozano, firebrand of the South Coast’s culturally aggrieved conservative right. Given Lozano’s wild-hair statements accusing public school sex ed programs of “grooming” victims for gay pedophiles, it’s fair to say we’d be hard put not to support almost anyone running against her. Fortunately for all who live in Goleta, Zacarias is actually an outstanding candidate. 

She is the mother of two young children; has taught in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Goleta school districts at a number of grade levels; and now teaches children with severe special needs for the County Department of Education. Conflicts over the adequacy of special education have been the breeding ground for a disproportionate percentage of the litigation ensnaring school districts across the state. People charged with administering such programs too often lack either the bandwidth or the authority necessary to make meaningful improvements. Having someone with Zacarias’s vantage point on the board would be an invaluable contribution. But it is her thoughtful eye that can spot issues where simple solutions can prevent major problems. Just realizing that porta-potties for little 4-year-olds on campus for the first time must be put nearer their classrooms to prevent them having upsetting accidents could be invaluable. Zacarias would infuse board discussions with real-world considerations that might not show up in administrative memos and district flow charts. And she has a strong understanding of how a child’s brain works, why the dual-language program is so important for both English and Spanish language students, and why an Expanded Learning program will promote a safe, succeeding student body. It was a good day in Goleta when Emily Zacarias decided to run for the school board. 

Hope School District, Area 5: Frann Wageneck

Frann Wageneck | Credit: Courtesy

That Frann Wageneck is now running for the Hope District School board qualifies as the ultimate case of a busman’s holiday. That’s because for the past 20 years, Wageneck has worked in various teaching and administrative capacities for the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD).

For the past seven, Wageneck functioned as assistant superintendent, holding down the fort during the Thomas Fire, the 1/9 Debris Flow, and COVID-19 when it came to safety matters. For good measure, Wageneck grew up living in the Hope School District, where she attended school and where she lives today. While still with the SBUSD, Wageneck helped expand the definition of what constitutes school safety beyond the traditional confines of active shooter drills to include programs to address more amorphous threats such as bullying and mental-health concerns. On issues of racism and equity concerns, Wageneck led from within. To say she is vastly overqualified for the post is a gross understatement.

Last week’s stunt by cultural conservatives targeting the Hope District with flyers complaining about “child porn” textbooks was clearly aimed at Wageneck. The child of two of the parents involved, it turns out, had a beef with Wageneck from her days as an administrator in Santa Barbara. (She left the district as part of the exodus of high-ranking administrators that have rocked the current administration.) The book in question was not, in fact, a textbook, as was alleged; it was a library book. Nor was it to be found anywhere in the Hope District, but instead on the shelves of the Santa Barbara High School library. While two panels of the book included sexually graphic depictions, the book hardly qualifies as pornography.

With enemies like that, some have opined, Wageneck hardly needs friends. We think she does and urge residents to cast their ballot in her direction.

County Board of Education, Area 1: Marybeth Carty

Marybeth Carty | Credit: Courtesy

Elections for what had previously been obscure educational boards have grown friskier with the rise of conservative culture warriors demanding greater accountability. One such target has been the County Board of Education. Last year, conservative crusader Christy Lozano took on Susan Salcido, superintendent of an educational entity with a budget of $100 million and 500 people on the payroll. Lozano lost badly. This time around, longtime incumbent board member Marybeth Carty faces a challenge from longtime neighborhood schools advocate Roseanne Crawford, who can get rambunctious when public documents are not released as swiftly as she’d like. Carty represents Carpinteria on the board and, in more ways than we can count, she is everything of, for, by, and about Carpinteria. She is also all about education and has a track record of public engagement — and philanthropic donations — to prove it. While we appreciate Crawford’s devil-may-care swagger, we think that the whole county will benefit greatly by keeping Marybeth Carty on the County Board of Education.

Congress: Salud Carbajal

Congressman Salud Carbajal | Image credit: Paul Wellman (file)

After serving three terms in Congress, Salud Carbajal is now feeling relaxed in Washington, D.C., to officially betray a sense of humor, as he did with his recent “Better Call Salud,” commercials — a riff on the successful TV show Better Call Saul.

Carbajal was sworn into office the same time Donald Trump took his oath of office, and the two could not differ more dramatically on matters of both style and substance. One a former immigrant kid, the other an immigrant basher. Carbajal cut his teeth working for former District 1 Supervisor Naomi Schwartz, for whom constituent services trumped ideological purity. Carbajal, a lifelong Democrat of the more transactional variety, has always been most comfortable in the so-called middle, forever talking about reaching across the aisle. Now that Joe Biden is in the White House, Carbajal’s task has been less Sisyphean and there is, on occasion, an actual aisle to reach across. How long that stays the case hinges entirely on what happens in our increasing unhinged midterm elections this November. 

Carbajal carved out one major victory this legislative session when the Senate included his “Red Flag” — or Extreme Risk Protection Order Act — language into an omnibus gun control bill adopted by the Senate and signed into law by Biden. Red Flag laws are designed to take guns out of the hands of people whose mental health records or histories of domestic violence indicate a heightened risk of gun violence. The law doesn’t mandate anything, but instead provides incentives to the 31 states without such measures to help defray the costs of implantation. 

When Governor Gavin Newsom announced this summer — with little advance warning — that he did not want to close Diablo Canyon in 2024, this could have interfered with what Carbajal envisions as his legacy project, the installation of a massive wind energy farm off the coast of Morro Bay. Carbajal made his unhappiness known while never actually opposing the governor. Behind the scenes, he helped limit the extension of Diablo Canyon from 10 years to five. 

Yes, Salud Carbajal is a “career politician,” as his opponent Dr. Brad Allen likes to assert, but Carbajal’s been an effective and accessible one. After three terms, Carbajal is coming into his own in Washington, and depending on the mid-term results, he could ascend to leadership positions of great importance to the district. To throw Carbajal overboard now would constitute an act of collective insanity. 

While Dr. Allen — a heart surgeon — makes interesting points about the shortcomings of health care reform, he belongs to a political party that notoriously refused to articulate any reform package of its own. When it came time to put up or shut up, the totality of the Republican Party was absent without leave. We recommend a vote to reelect Carbajal.

State Assembly: Gregg Hart

Gregg Hart | Credit: Courtesy

Gregg Hart, the pragmatic progressive — or progressive pragmatist — who helped keep the county Board of Supervisors centered these past four years, is now running for State Assembly against perennial Republican candidate Mike Stoker. Barring demonic possession or divine intervention, Hart will win handily. 

Even when more conservative-leaning North County voters are factored into the mix, it’s unfathomable that Santa Barbara County could elect anyone to the statehouse whose claim to fame is having led the “Lock ’er up” chant against Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Republican convention that gave birth to the presidency of Donald Trump. Stoker is a more complex creature than that moment suggests and not nearly as bad. But actions have consequences. 

And even if Hart is, in fact, the career politician Stoker has accused him of being, Hart has proved uncommonly effective in office, even elevating the role. With a big, beaming grin — sometimes cheesy, but always winning — Hart understands the mechanics of how government works like few others. He’s not a chest thumper. But he gets stuff done. 

More than that, the chemistry between him and the four other supervisors — north and south alike — was exceptionally productive. Watching the county supervisors at this fractured and fractious time in American history has been a tonic. Politicians with clearly different beliefs showed they could work together as a democratically elected body effectively functioning to serve the county And Hart was at the center of making that happen. 

Hart also distinguished himself by his service during the height of the COVID pandemic, hosting weekly half-hour press briefings involving public health and medical experts from Cottage Hospital. As such, Hart had to surf an unenviable wave. On one side were people demanding stronger enforcement. On the other, there were those who accused the county of oppressive overreach. For Hart, there was no safe middle ground. Through it all, Hart kept grinning. He never sought to play the role of inspirational unifier, but these briefings offered the media a rare opportunity to ask questions of those who were often too harried to otherwise respond, and get that information out to the public. Sadly, when Hart’s term as board chair expired, these sessions stopped.  

As supervisor, Hart — who cut his teeth as an aid for former State Assemblymember Jack O’Connell — also worked effectively on criminal justice reform and mental health care issues. He pushed and prodded the Sheriff, the DA, and County Probation to keep people facing criminal charges who did not pose a threat to their communities out of jail and into diversion programs. Hart was hardly alone in this endeavor, but his approach, demeanor, and resolve helped embolden those who might otherwise have shied away from the fray and helped create a broader coalition in favor of reform. 

We have not always seen eye-to-eye with Hart on everything. We always questioned his aversion to the imposition of affordability requirements on new housing units and found his belief in the free market solutions misplaced and unjustified by the facts. Even more so, we wondered, what was the urgency with which he pursued a Project Labor Agreement ordinance at the county? And why was he so impatient about the legitimate questions county officials were asking about the additional construction costs such an agreement might trigger?

We certainly doubted Hart’s wisdom in voting to hire the cannabis industry’s chief lobbyist as his administrative assistant upon first taking office. Given the inflammatory nature of the issue at the time, we thought the selection — born of personal loyalty — seemed a gratuitous provocation. 

Also, once Hart adopts his talking points, his skilled discipline can become rigid. We certainly saw that when Hart was all but running SBCAG. His response to the City of Santa Barbara concerns that the freeway-widening project would cause disruptions that had not been adequately mitigated, was abrupt, even dismissive.

But whatever our reservations about such details, there’s no doubt Hart will do an infinitely better job representing the district’s interests in Sacramento than his brash and amiable opponent, Mike Stoker, will. 

When Stoker served on the board of supervisors, his chief accomplishment was the consolidation of several high-profile and politically charged county departments that had no business ever being consolidated. The grand jury would later denounce the endeavor as political flimflammery designed to reward politically supportive law-and-order department heads while punishing those who worked well with what had been the board’s slow-growth majority. None of these consolidations — touted at the time for their cost-saving potentials — stayed joined at the hip for long; they were functionally unworkable. Putting the sheriff and the fire department together under one unified command roof, for example, sounded good only on paper and in Stoker’s political payback fantasy. 

Our biggest concern with Hart’s all-but-inevitable victory this November is which of his fellow supervisors will step up and embrace the exhaustingly complex challenges inherent in expanding mental health choices and treatment in Santa Barbara. Who will have the patience, stamina, and attention to mind-numbing detail required to be effective when it comes to criminal justice reform? 

But Hart has long harbored serious ambitions about running for state office. This is clearly his time now. We’re confident Hart will quickly find his footing in Sacramento, work well with the party leadership — which controls a super majority of both houses — and advocate effectively on behalf of the interests of his constituents. We can ask no more.

City of Goleta

Rome, famously, was not built in a day. The City of Goleta has been at it for 20 years now, after years of languishing in the hands of Santa Barbara county government. Back then, such jokes as “What’s the difference between Goleta and a bowl of yogurt? Yogurt has culture” were plentiful. This joke, by the way, was told by a former county supervisor who actually represented part of the Goleta Valley.

Since 2002, when Goleta voted to incorporate as a city, its government has effectively built a panoply of services residents would reasonably expect from any competent municipal entity. But more importantly, it has begun to offer the Goodland’s 55,000 residents an existential center of gravity where grievances can be heard and some semblance of collective self-determination can take place. 

This year’s ballot offers two highly competitive races between qualified candidates all richly steeped in government experience. With three Latinx candidates who are fluent in Spanish, it’s also the most diverse group Goleta has ever seen, thanks in great part to the city switching to district elections. 

Also on the ballot are two measures, one of which, Measure B, is the most critical decision Goleta voters will have to decide this year. The other is a no-brainer on the subject of flavored tobacco vapes.

Of course, every origin story has a snake in the grass. In Goleta, it’s the much-reviled Revenue Neutrality Deal that voters effectively ratified back when they voted for cityhood. It actually mandated the County of Santa Barbara to eat up an outsized slice of Goleta city’s sales tax revenues. Right now, Goleta charges a sales tax of 7.75 percent. Of that, the county — and other special districts — collect the 7 percent, and Goleta gets the remaining .75. Measure B must pass if the City of Goleta is going to keep roads paved, build new bike paths, expand homeless services, and critically, build a much-needed new fire station on the west end of town.

City Council District 1: Luz Reyes-Martín

Luz Reyes-Martín | Credit: Courtesy

This race is a classic matchup between a candidate from the old school and one from the new era. Incumbent Roger Aceves, a 16-year city councilman, a former Santa Barbara city cop, and the first Spanish-speaking Latino to hold elected office in Goleta, is running against the first Latina — Luz Reyes-Martín, a young mom who served eight years on the Goleta Union School Board.

Nominally, both are Democrats, though Aceves — whose family dates back to the founding of Santa Barbara — sometimes casts himself as the curmudgeonly voice of more conservative opposition. Both are dedicated to the communities they serve. Both are formidable. 

Ultimately, we concluded, Reyes-Martín brings more of what’s needed in the years ahead for the City of Goleta. A child of Mexican immigrants, she grew up in Downey, attended Stanford and USC, and earned two master’s degrees — one in land-use planning and public administration. She and her husband have lived in Goleta where they are raising their young children, for 10 years. During that time, Reyes-Martín spent three years with the City of Goleta working with emergency services and the parks, another six as communications director for City College, and now works in a leadership role at Planned Parenthood. 

Within the local Democratic Party, she’s long been regarded as a rising star. No surprise. She has an open, friendly manner and speaks her mind but strives for cooperation. On the school board, she radiated an ease and civility during stressful public events. Politically, she’s both book-smart and street-smart, a genuine policy wonk with a shrewd sense of opportunity and of strategy: a pragmatic progressive.

Reyes-Martín opted to sit out Measure B, the proposed sales tax increase, deferring to the will of the voters rather than staking out any position. We wish she had been bolder. But Aceves — always refreshingly candid — was the only councilmember to vote against the sales tax, and he actually wrote the ballot argument against it. If Goleta residents had to make do with less, he argued, so too should local government. We don’t agree.

City Council District 2: James Kyriaco

James Kyriaco | Credit: Courtesy

Incumbent James Kyriaco can honestly say he has moved the needle to expand child care opportunities in Goleta. Long before other politicians “discovered” that the lack of affordable quality childcare posed a palpable danger to mothers, children, families, and workplaces across America, James Kyriaco had been beating that drum ever since he was first elected four years ago . It was an effective political move, but so what?

It is a desperately needed service and one that only he seems laser-focused on. 

Perhaps one of the wonkiest of elected officials on the South Coast, Kyriaco went über-granular, pushing obscure zoning ordinances that rewarded developers by including childcare facilities in their projects. He pushed legislation to relieve day care providers of some of the onerous development costs and mitigation fees that can price them — or their families — out of the market. 

When elected officials actually try to do what they say they’re going to do, and then deliver the goods, you endorse them. How could we not? 

Kyriaco qualifies as a progressive middle-of-the-roader. He grew up in Santa Barbara and cut his teeth working on the political campaigns of such elected officials as Brian Barnwell, Roger Horton and Susan Rose, also progressive middle-of-the-roaders. On the council, he’s been an ardent advocate for the one percent sales tax increase; as proponents point out, that’s a 50-cent surcharge on a $50 dinner. 

Running against Kyriaco is Sam Ramirez, whom Kyriaco appointed to the Goleta Planning Commission a year and a half ago. Both Kyriaco and Ramirez are card-carrying Democrats. Kyriaco snagged the endorsement of the local party.

Having served eight years on the city council of his hometown, Delano, Ramirez clearly has political chops. But even with his time with SEIU Local 620 — and working at Santa Barbara City Hall for the City Clerk — his depth of Goleta experience doesn’t match that of Kyriaco’s. 

Ramirez opposes the proposed sales tax increase, saying Goleta has not exhausted all efforts to negotiate a new deal with the county. We don’t buy it. Goleta has, in fact, worked hard to strike a better deal. Given the overwhelming need for massively expensive infrastructure and capital improvement projects, now is the time to act, not some day over the rainbow. 

Measure B: Yes

If approved, Measure B won’t take effect until 2024. Exempt from the new tax will be gas, prescription medications, grocery food, and rent. Without the $42 million worth of road maintenance work, road quality will continue to deteriorate to the point it will cost $78 million 10 years from now. 

Goleta’s sales tax rate is currently the lowest among Santa Barbara cities. It’s one percent lower than Santa Barbara’s and Santa Maria’s. Given the large influx of out-of-town shoppers who visit Goleta’s Calle Real Shopping Center — home to Costco and Home Depot — it’s estimated that 44 percent of the higher taxes will be paid from non-city residents. 

Four of the five Goleta City councilmembers are supporting Measure B. The one-cent bump in the city’s sales tax will allow the city to totally bypass the Revenue Sharing Deal with the county. The council has put together a wish list for the funds, should Measure B prevail. The biggest chunk — $3.3 million a year — would go to road maintenance, with $1.9 million going to childcare and affordable housing, $600,000 to homeless programs, and $800,000 to creek restoration and watershed. Without Measure B funds, it will be a cold day in hell before the community center gets the rehab it desperately needs.

Measure C: Yes

If Measure C is approved, Goleta would effectively ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in retail outlets. Those who sell vape products would be liable for administrative penalties up to $250. This measure mirrors a statewide ballot initiative — Prop. 31 — that seeks to do the same thing, though not quite as strictly. Despite protests by the tobacco industry that minors are already legally prohibited from buying such products, evidence abounds that flavored tobacco products provide an inviting pathway to tobacco addiction. Tobacco manufacturers intentionally target minors with candy-flavored products. Anything that makes it more difficult to get tobacco products in anyone’s hands — and lungs — is a step in the right direction.

City of Lompoc Mayor: Jenelle Osborne

Jenelle Osborne | Credit: Courtesy

For those with a taste for self-destructive right-wing anarchism, the mayoral candidacy of Lompoc’s Jim Mosby will come as a welcome breath of fresh air. For everyone else, Mosby’s bull-in-a-china-shop, poke-the-bear style of government — all anti-taxes, anti-regulation, and let-the-free-market-run-amok — is not an exercise in nostalgia to be indulged in. While incumbent Jenelle Osborne — a Texas transplant who runs a professional organizing and event planning business — is not nearly so colorful or confrontational, she has brought a degree of competence and collegiality to City Hall, seeking consensus out when possible. 

Since Mosby — a former city councilmember — lost to Osborne in his last mayoral bid four years ago, Lompoc has been able to creep back from the precipice of financial ruin on which it was so precariously perched. When Mosby served on the council, he held uncommon sway. During those years, new taxes were violently rebuffed even if it meant losing one-third of the sworn officers serving on Lompoc’s police department. Ironically, the Mosby regime was all about defunding the police — if from a right-wing perspective — long before any Minneapolis cops put their knees on George Floyd’s neck. 

Mosby’s idea of urban revitalization was to allow an unlimited number of cannabis dispensaries to open and then charge them absolutely no taxes for the privilege. The theory was to allow the cannabis industry to secure a toehold without government interference and then flourish. Currently, there are 14 dispensaries, more than the number of 7-Elevens. But in practice, this large number has helped to drive down the price of cannabis below the threshold required for economic survival. Residents of Lompoc had to overcome the passionate opposition of Mosby and his confederates on the council to finally get a cannabis tax on the ballot, where it passed overwhelmingly. 

Ron Fink, a moderate Republican and longtime Lompoc columnist, has written critically of Mosby’s approach. In response, Mosby had designed a custom-made bumper stinker featuring a pile of cow manure accompanied by the headline, “Fink Happens.” In the post-Mosby world, however, Lompoc is finding its way. New businesses are opening up and new industries being courted. A new wind is blowing through town. 

Please cast your vote for Jenelle Osborne. And lest you forget, “Mosby Happens.”

SBCC Board of Trustees: Marsha Croninger & Charlotte Gullap-Moore

Marsha Croninger

Charlotte Gullap-Moore

Catch up on our Election 2022 coverage here.

Correction: This story was updated on September 22, 2022, to clarify that Jenelle Osborne runs a professional organizing and event planning business, not an accounting firm as reported in an earlier version of her endorsement.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.