By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers
Samples of ballots for the Nov. 2 Santa Barbara micro-local municipal election arrived in PO boxes this week, as part of the city’s $ 400,000 contract with County Registrar Joe Holland to administer the vote.
“The people of Santa Barbara are voting for fun,” noted a shriveled political consultant from LA, who has hosted a few races here. If so, most of the city’s voters will be disappointed with the nanoscopic reach of their ballots, comprising a single decision – 1, count them, 1 – choosing from six mayoral candidates, our only office in city-wide in the era of district elections.
Fortunately, for residents of the Riviera, San Roque and surrounding areas, they have the added benefit of deciding the increasingly difficult District 4 City Council race between incumbent Kristen Sneddon and Challenger Barrett Reed, while those who live in downtown District 6 can indulge in selection from a field of four, as three council wannabes chase member named Meagan Harmon. Alas for those types of exterior State Street in District 5, the only option was to vote for unopposed incumbent Eric Friedman.
This just happened: Newsmakers’ Decision Desk ’21 is now ready to make a call in District 5 …
The Big Dog event
Hosted by the indefatigable Nick Welsh, the forum offers incumbent and aspiring mayors to be interviewed by the Angry Poodle himself, an uncertain if not terrifying ordeal in the face of a journalistic free spirit that combines a bushel full of iconic political views, the value of an encyclopedia of Santa Barbara history and traditions, and the stubborn courage of Butch the street dog.
We called Welsh to get an idea of what kinds of things he will ask, but our timing was inopportune as he was in a bad mood, as he endured the agony of having next week’s cover story. on the mayoral campaign, which he had submitted a slightly higher word count than Anna Karenina’s, reduced enough by the IEC Marianne Partridge to fit in the journal.
From our notes, here is what he said about the debate:
(beep) (beep) (beep-beep) … growl, growl, moan … they (beep) speak better (beep) of the results (beep) and not (beep) of the process, (beep) (beep) . .. moan, moan, (Beep)!
Warned are warned, candidates.
In their own words
Power Rankings of Candidate Performance in the Montecito Journal Q&A:
1-Deborah Schwartz. For the first time, the Chairman of the Planning Commission has deployed a line of attack aimed at neutralizing the simple political fact that it is stuck in the middle, between Mayor Cathy Murillo on the left and former council member Randy Rowse to the right. Depicting these two primarily as Tweedledee and Tweedledum, she wrote that “Mr. Rowse and Ms. Murillo have been elected together for years,” adding that “their lack of effective administrative oversight and inaction… put our city in pain. crisis today. crossroads. “More like that, please.
2-James joyce iii. Like Deborah, James has kept some of his strongest and most direct lines from the campaign for Montecito’s print interview, which will no doubt be read by, uh, dozens of people, at least several of whom can vote in the event. of the election. “Our current mayor lacks the leadership skills, experience and vision to run our city,” he said, before pivoting to his call for a city hall ethics plan. : “As mayor, I would bring a new approach and a different tone to city council: a tone that works for the people, not for the special interests around city hall.” Ugh.
3-Randy Rowse. Randy delivered a disciplined message, emphasizing time-tested points that the city government’s political, political and personal issues date back to the strangulation of the Democratic Party apparatus at City Hall. (“Belonging to a political party is an individual choice, but these seats are, by definition, non-partisan”) and district elections fail (“While the council is now elected by district, each act of governance it accomplishes affects the general constituency. ”) The most interesting part, however, was the big revelation that one of his first jobs at UCSB was“ running a retail stereo store in Bakersfield. ”Wow, he dodged that bullet well.
4-Cathy Murillo. Over the past few weeks, the incumbent has taken on an increasingly sarcastic, even smug tone, sometimes even referring to herself in the third person (“you are in good hands with this mayor”), a clear sign of ‘a nascent delusional disorder for any elected candidate for a second term. With a message that could be summed up as follows: “What are you going to believe – me or your lying eyes?” Happy Cathy continues to assure voters that things are going really, really well because of her; fearlessly risking a sprained elbow in the question-and-answer session by patting her back, she applauded her own “political bravery” by vowing to “take this courage in my second term”. (Secret memo to His Honor: there was talk of getting other people to say this stuff about you).
5-Marc Whitehurst. For a reporter, Whitehurst certainly uses a lot of passive voice (“an atmosphere of collaboration can be developed”), corporate gibberish (“positive leadership that overshadows the peripheral negativity that has been present”) and obscure platitudes (“build a community is an attitude “). Ah, what do you expect from a publisher …
6-Matt Kilrain. After dancing around Nick Masuda’s question in the MoJo debate about his connection to QAnon, Boat Rat Matt introduced it to everyone. When asked to list some of his approvals, he wrote “WWG1WGA”, which every conspiratorial Q adherent reads as the believer’s credo: “where we go one, we all go”. Scary stuff.
Does it really matter who wins?
Covering SB’s mayoral race four years ago, we ran an article raising the question of what difference it made who won the election, given Santa Barbara’s weak, strong form of government. a mayor and a municipal administrator.
Some of his key points seemed worth repeating.
For starters, the mayor’s office on paper is really endowed with little formal and overt powers:
“Some real facts. The second element concerning the function of mayor is even more remarkable: the concert does not have much obvious power.
“In our weak mayor system, the city administrator manages day-to-day matters (always aware, of course, of the prerogative of the mayor and council to fire him. Or, who knows, someday maybe be her)
Here is a complete list of the functions mandated by the mayor’s charter of the SB:
To chair the meetings of the municipal council.
Cast their own vote – but no veto.
“Official head of the City for all ceremonial purposes. “
“Primary but not exclusive responsibility to interpret the policies, programs and needs of the city government to the people. “
“Can notify people of any policy or program change. “
“Does anyone really believe that the daily life of the average person in Santa Barbara depends on who gets elected mayor?” Bill Clausen, a prolific presence on local commentary forums and social media, complained about an interesting discussion on Indy’s site one day last week.
‘Dependent?’ No. “Impacted, influenced and changed? ” Yes, yes and yes.”
Given the limitations, we consulted with current Mayor Helene Schneider at the time, as well as with Sheila Lodge, her most illustrious living predecessor, on how they functioned to maximize the limited influence they enjoyed.
Helene said that, from a practical point of view, the most important function of the mayor is to follow the agenda of the city council and to run council meetings effectively:
“The holding of the meeting is no accident. It takes focus and work. “
“I think people who have been in office before, especially in city government, know how the process works; you are trying to walk a tightrope. But if you haven’t been part of the process, you are. will open his eyes. “
“You try to listen to what everyone is saying and, if there is a difference of opinion on an issue, try to consolidate the thought and come up with a suggestion or a motion that will pass.
“You can lead the discussion that way, and you have to do it in a respectful way, even though you might disagree with the membership on the issue. You are always one of the seven votes, so if you want to try to advance an argument in a particular way, or win an argument in a particular way, you have that part to play. But at the end of the day, I find the mayor really to be the person trying to make things happen.
And setting that tone is important. “
Sheila said that mayor’s powers 4 and 5 above actually provide a lot of leeway for a smart, ambitious and energetic politician with strong communication skills who are concerned with the public interest to exercise strong leadership. .
“Because the role of the mayor has a certain aura, the mayor can use his position to lead and educate the community, to successfully advocate for what is best for the city as a whole,” the former mayor told me. Lodge.
“When I was first elected mayor, I was surprised to find that people thought it gave me a lot more power, even though I still only had one voice and no veto power.” , she added.
“This belief has indeed empowered me.”
Imagine that …