Kate Ford | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

Santa Barbara city council held a second round of interviews to fill 43 vacant positions on 17 different city advisory boards, with nearly 60 candidates applying for spots in various groups, ranging from the Arts Advisory Council and Harbor Commission to smaller boards like the Neighborhood Advisory Council and the Civil Service Commission.

While some of the groups are struggling to fill the open positions — like the Living Wage Advisory Committee, with three vacancies and only one application — some of the more popular boards have attracted stiff competition, and a few familiar faces looking to stay involved in a new way.

One familiar face is former Santa Barbara Unified Board President Kate Ford, who is one of six applicants vying for the lone spot on the Harbor Commission. Ford, who is a lifelong educator who worked her way up through the ranks as a teacher, principal, superintendent, board member, then board president (before suddenly announcing her retirement last year), has also served terms on the Santa Barbara High School MAD Academy Board and Maritime Museum Board. 

During Tuesday’s council meeting, Ford expressed an eagerness to get back into the boardroom, this time reflecting a passion she held long before becoming an educator. She remembers walking along the breakwater on Christmas mornings with her father, and ever since then she’s had a “love for the ocean.” She described herself as a sometime “sailor, whalewatcher, beachcomber, pleasure boater, and ocean cruiser,” whose experience with both the maritime and the Brown Act make her a perfect candidate for the spot.

She would be no stranger to controversy, she said, and would be eager to tackle the hotly contested topics that have been popping up at the harbor — like the push to end the city’s cruise ship program.

“If you’ve ever seen a school board meeting, you know I understand about competing interests,” she said. “I always like to say that while certain individuals or groups don’t have a vote, they must always have a voice.”

City council will make final appointments for the open positions on June 27.


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