Santa Barbara City Council elections underway

Wesley Brown, Staff Writer

Throughout this week, elections are being held to select the new City Council representatives for Santa Barbara’s 1st District, Eastside, and 2nd District, the Mesa. 

Votes will be collected by mail-in-ballots which can be dropped off at City Hall, the Franklin Neighborhood Center, or Holy Cross Church from today through tomorrow from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and next Tuesday, Election Day, from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Within the 1st District there are three candidates running: incumbent Jason Dominguez, Alejandra Gutierrez, and Cruzito Herrera Cruz, all of whom are campaigning on the issues of homelessness and affordable housing.

Jason Dominguez, a Democratic councilman, is not known for toeing the party line. This attitude is led by his desire for, “Common sense solutions.” Compared to other voters, Dominguez advocates for more compromise among councilmembers. “The council used to work to get a unanimous vote by compromising,” Dominguez said. “Now if there’s four votes on an issue, we just push it through without finding a compromise. City Council works the best when you get seven members to compromise and agree on an issue.”

Among his proposed policies concerning homelessness, Dominguez advocates for hiring full-time staff to research and develop solutions for the issue. Regarding housing, Dominguez believes that approximately 2,000 housing units could be built along State for more affordable middle-class living.

Dominguez is also currently campaigning for the 37th State Assembly District.

Alejandra Gutierrez, Democratic candidate and director of the Franklin Neighborhood Center, is campaigning on the premise of connecting non-profits more directly to the needs of the community.

She is also campaigning on her familiarity with gang violence as someone who group up as a low income Santa Barbara native. “I went through it; I grew up in these streets as a low-income Latina. I can talk to residents in a way other people can’t.”

Cruzito Herrera Cruz is running for the sixth time and does little in the way of traditional campaigning. “I’ve never asked for political contributions because I have this crazy, wild idea that a community man can get elected without money,” Cruz stated. “I know it’s idealist, but I’m determined to win one day.”

Cruz, also an Eastside native, is focusing his campaign on expanding rental housing units  on Milpas and State. 

Within the 2nd District, there are five candidates who are currently running for office: Michael Jordan, Brian Campbell, Tavis Boise, Luis Esparza, and Teri Jory.

Jordan, who is endorsed by the Democratic Party, has over 20 years of experience as a member of numerous city boards and commissions. “People like to call me a ‘career politician’ and an ‘insider.’ I’d say this is the time and the place for an insider,” Jordan stated.

Michael Jordan in running on a campaign of loosened height restrictions on buildings, amending parking requirements, and expanding downtown housing.

Brian Campbell, the lone Republican of this election, is largely focused on the issue of homelessness. Campbell has little political experience, however he has managed to make a stir by reprimanding the City Council for not acting on the city’s homeless problem.

Travis Boise, the youngest of the candidates, is running a climate-focused campaign. “There’s going to be more fires, more debris flows, and more mudslides,” he said. “Fishermen won’t be able to fish anymore because there won’t be enough fish in the ocean. This is not fearmongering; this is reality … I just want a seat at the table for me and my generation … I want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to avert the worst disaster in human history.”

Luis Esparza, a lawyer by trade, believes that the council is unbalanced in the direction of the Democratic left. Esparza is running on a campaign of calm reflection, wherein he frames himself as the voice of reason.

Esparza also focuses largely on the homeless issue, believing that there should be a day center constructed for those who have nowhere else to go.

Tery Jory is the only woman running for the 2nd District seat. Jory has experience as a member board of Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County. Although she is a Democrat, she emphasizes that she thinks independently of any party lines.