On the November 8 ballot are four running to be seated on the Goleta City Council: from left, Roger Aceves, Luz Reyes-Martín, James Kyriaco, and Sam Ramirez. | Credit: Courtesy

Most, but not all, campaign war chests have fattened up in the race to November 8 for the four candidates running for two seats on the Goleta City Council. The four have raised a combined $173,300 so far in the hope of influencing roughly 9,700 registered voters in the city’s first set of district elections. The two districts in the eastern half of the city — District 1 in the Patterson to Glen Annie quadrant north of the 101, and District 2 in the Patterson to Storke Road area south of the highway — each have an incumbent running against a newcomer, but what the finance reports show is that it pays to have the Democratic Party endorsement and to be an incumbent.

In the lead in overall fundraising is James Kyriaco, which is not suprising. Kyriaco knows the ropes not only as a four-year Goleta City Councilmember but from his onetime job title as a political campaign manager. Endorsed by the Dems, he’s raised a total of $60,000 in the race for District 2, a six-to-one advantage over his rival Sam Ramirez, who raised $10,900.

Ramirez is a relative newcomer to Goleta, and the majority of his supporters are from the Bakersfield area, where he was a Delano city councilmember. The exception is the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, which gave $1,000 to his campaign.

Both candidates gave to their own campaign early on: Kyriaco a loan of $2,500; and Ramirez $3,000, apparently to pay his campaign manager, Wade Cowper, who donated $350 to him, apparently the balance of his billing.

Unions tend to back Democrats, and they made a difference in this race, backing both Kyriaco and Luz Reyes-Martín, a Dem-endorsed candidate up against 16-year incumbent councilmember Roger Aceves for District 1. Kyriaco received a total of $27,800 from sheetmetal, laborer, plumber, carpenter, electrician, and worker locals; Reyes-Martín received $14,150 in total from much the same groups.

Democrats also back endorsed Democrats. Elected officials at the county, cities, schools, and state levels, as well as civilians active in the party, donated mostly in the $100 to $500 range. Kyriaco received $5,600 and Reyes-Martín $6,750. Missing from any donation line-up was Congressmember Salud Carbajal, though his chief of staff gave $100 to Kyriaco’s race.

Though this is Luz Reyes-Martín’s first run for a city office, she’s well-known to the Goleta community from her eight years on the local school board and her work with Planned Parenthood Central Coast. She has the largest number of individual donations — 158 — and a campaign war chest of $59,600. Her biggest single donor is her mother, who gave her a total of $5,600. She also received support from women’s political action committees, including the Shatter PAC and Latinas Lead, totalling $3,000.

Nonetheless, Reyes-Martín faces an uphill battle in her attempt to unseat Roger Aceves. Not only is Aceves in his fourth term as councilmember, he’s diligently used his position for civic activism and “customer service” for city residents. Although a registered Democrat, Aceves is the outside voice on the council, whose other four members were elected on platforms of slower development and conservation. He is the only one to receive donations from smoke shops — $3,000 — and was the only “no” vote on the council to banning flavored tobacco in Goleta, which is on November’s ballot as Measure C.

Aceves has a total of $42,800 in his campaign coffers, $19,300 of which he rolled over from his attempt for the mayor’s seat in 2020. His donor base is largely the business community: developers, builders, real estate, and retail, who give on the order of thousands of dollars. Combined, they donated $24,700. His largest single donors are the Towbes Group and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, which each gave him $4,900.

Business is betting on incumbents. With the exception of the smoke shops, most of these same business interests also gave about $26,000 to Kyriaco. His single largest contributor are the principals of Price Management, who gave him $9,800 and run a number of gas stations and real estate projects across the South Coast.

All four candidates had spent about half their funds by the time of their filings on October 22 on mailers, lawn signs, and other campaign expenses. Aceves and Kyriaco, however, also donated to others. Aceves gave about $3,000 in total to groups like United Boys and Girls Club, Santa Barbara Mission, and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. Kyriaco listed donations totalling $5,550 to nonprofits Environmental Defense Center and Future Leaders of America, and to other Democrats running for office, like Spencer Brandt and Charlotte Gullap-Moore, as well as $1,500 to the Santa Barbara Democratic Party.

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