Carpinteria's new mayor, Al Clark | Credit: Ryan P. Cruz

Carpinteria has a new mayor, longtime councilmember Al Clark — who was just reelected to the council in a head-to-head race against friend and colleague Gregg Carty in the city’s first-ever district election and who will now serve as the city’s mayor for the next two years.

Last week, the City Council nominated Clark, who served as Carpinteria’s vice mayor for the past two years, to replace Wade Nomura, who will continue to serve as a city councilmember. The council also unanimously approved Councilmember Natalia Alarcon as the city’s new vice mayor.

“I’d like to thank Mayor Wade Nomura,” Clark said. “I think Wade has truly been one of the greatest mayors we have ever had. I really admire everything that he does.”

Both Clark and Nomura were nominated for the position. Councilmember Roy Lee nominated Nomura for a second term but was outvoted 4-1, with Nomura himself voting against the motion.

Clark was approved in a 4-1 vote, with Lee opposing, and was welcomed with applause from a packed City Hall chambers. He took the time to thank the community of Carpinteria for electing him in the District 5 race, and said he has learned a lot from former mayor Nomura’s leadership style.

Longtime Carpinteria city councilmember Gregg Carty gives one last speech in front of a packed city hall chambers. | Credit: City of Carpinteria

“I’m glad we don’t have to say goodbye,” Clark said. “We’re going to keep working with him and we’re going to keep tapping into what he does.”

The meeting also served as a chance for the city to bid a fond farewell to Carty — who was celebrated by the council with an official resolution commending him for his years of service to the community.

Carty’s dedication to public service began when he was appointed to the Carpinteria Architectural Review Board, where he served from 1991 to 2002 and again from 2005 to 2006. He then went on to serve four terms on the City Council, from December 2006 to December 2022 — including two terms when he was appointed mayor, from 2008 to 2010 and again from 2014 to 2016.

In this most recent election, Carpinteria moved from at-large elections for city councilmembers to district elections, forcing the city’s voters to choose between Carty and Clark — who both live in District 5, but had avoided a head-to-head race up until now.

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The City Council read through a long list of Carty’s accomplishments in the city, from his efforts to work with the Land Trust of Santa Barbara County to acquire the Rincon Bluffs Preserve to his advocacy for mom-and-pop businesses. During the pandemic, Carty pushed for local businesses to receive relief funds from the city, which helped keep many small businesses afloat.

“I want to thank Gregg Carty for his lifetime of service to our community,” Clark said. “Gregg sincerely loves Carpinteria, and I know he will keep working to make Carpinteria the best place it can be.”

Carty, who has deep roots in the Carpinteria community, offered a few comments to the standing-room-only crowd.

“I’ve always strived to be a good steward for our wonderful community of Carpinteria,” Carty said. “I’m happy and proud of what we’ve accomplished together.” He received a standing ovation and a plaque from the city.

Replacing Carty will be Mónica Solórzano, who won District 1 unopposed. Councilmember Lee won District 3, also unopposed.

“Today marks the beginning not only of my time on the city council of Carpinteria, but also the shift to district elections for the city,” Solórzano said. “I’m proud that Carpinteria now has five representatives for five districts, and I’m very proud to be representing District 1.”

Her first official motion was to nominate Clark for the position of mayor. She explained that while Nomura has been a great leader through a tough few years, the city should welcome a diversity of voices at the position.

“It’s so important to have rotating and new leadership and to have new ideas coming into play every couple years,” she said.

Alarcon, who will now serve as vice mayor, also thanked Nomura for his leadership, and said she was looking forward to working with Mayor Clark. “I think I — as well as everyone else — have high expectations,” she said.

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