A Deep Dive into SB Election: Power Rankings, Analysis, Forecasts, Political Gossip

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By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

In a special Press Clips edition of Newsmakers TV, Noozhawk political writer Josh Molina joins the host for an all-politics-all-the-time conversation about the upcoming Santa Barbara city election for mayor and three council seats.

With 137 days to go before Election Day, it marks the first time since the pandemic began that Covid-19 was not Topic A on the show, as the mansplaining duo descend deep into the rabbit hole of local political punditry.

Amid a political landscape shaped by sharp debates about housing, homelessness, economic development, race and equity -- and a recent series of high-profile City Hall controversies over cannabis, department heads and sexual harassment -- the four-way mayoral contest pits incumbent Cathy Murillo, seeking a new, five-year term, against a trio of challengers who present sharp contrasts in both substance and on style.

Although three City Council seats are on the ballot, only one so far is a contested race, and District 4 incumbent Kristen Sneddon, a Sheila Lodge-style goo goo, faces the aggressive upset bid of well-funded downtown developer and Planning Commissioner Barrett Reed, in what shapes up to be a consequential debate over the future of Santa Barbara's economy, environment and aesthetic.

Among other things, the episode produced the first Power Rankings of the season in the mayor's race -- and here's how the Newsmakers Political Desk ranked the rivals at this juncture:

#1-Cathy Murillo. The incumbent, running on a promise of Five More Years of the status quo, has always demonstrated far more ability to campaign than to govern, and this time has come out early and energetically to raise a bushel of cash and capture the key Democratic Party endorsement. Although the mayor is the only City Hall officeholder forced to run citywide, there's no majority vote needed under the current (and badly outdated) winner-take-all rules, and Mayor Cathy never made a serious effort to expand her coalition beyond the 27 percent she won four years ago, which could prove costly if fed-up homeowner/taxpayers rebel.

#2-Randy Rowse. On the natural, the former longtime council member and restaurant owner's non-partisan, pragmatic approach to city government carries natural appeal to gimlet-eyed business owners and taxpayers who foot the bill for the union-friendly, woke progressive, social welfare policies of the mayor and council majority. The key question is whether he can raise enough coin to put together a robust enough campaign operation to compete with the proven Dem-labor-lefty voter turnout organization.

#3-James Joyce. The veteran state legislative aide and entrepreneur, who founded the "Coffee with a Black Guy" anti-racism movement, has been using social media channels to campaign quietly and could benefit from the focus on equity and social justice issues amid the current political atmosphere -- especially given Mayor Cathy's widely-publicized falling out with Black Lives Matter/Healing Justice activists. We're still waiting to hear a crisp and clear rationale for his candidacy, however.

#4-Deborah Schwartz. The longtime Planning Commissioner and scion of a prominent Santa Barbara political family argues that local elected officials should gain some of the power now invested in the City Administrator and his far-flung bureaucracy, as a means of slashing at the maddening system of delays, obstruction and appeals that now controls effort to get things done in the city. Support from developers may be a double-edged sword.

It's all here, right now, on Newsmakers TV.

Check out the show via YouTube below or click through on this link. The podcast version is here.

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SantaBarbaraObserver Jun 22, 2021 04:27 PM
A Deep Dive into SB Election: Power Rankings, Analysis, Forecasts, Political Gossip

Ahh yes, the public employee unions.... When there is no business to negotiate against, asks become detached from reality. In the free market, Unions balance their asks against that pesky little thing called profits. In the public sector, there is no such counter balance. So their asks are always met and since they are literally the "foxes guarding the hen house", they ask and get way, way, way more than they deserve. The bottom line is that our civil servants work less than private sector peers, receive more benefits than their peers in the private sector and are paid higher salaries than the private sector offers... Nothing about this scenario is balanced for anyone but the few who happen to be the ones receiving the money. Throw in the fact that the Unions hand pick and fund the Pols, and you have a terrible situation for the people to whom these civil servants actually serve. Us. In the USA, labor laws have long since eclipsed the need for workers rights. Instead, they act as collective bargain agents. Which is fine, when there is a natural limit to their demands - Profits. When there isnt? You end up with a grossly imbalanced system that actually destroys upward mobility for most workers. Excluding more than including. Not a good situation and one that HAS TO CHANGE or we (the city) will be bankrupt.

a-1624459012 Jun 23, 2021 07:36 AM
A Deep Dive into SB Election: Power Rankings, Analysis, Forecasts, Political Gossip

The same thing should be asked of council member Harmon who “ran” for the council appointment stating she did not support the Project Labor Agreement but once appointed sang a different song. Anyone wonder why voters are disillusioned with their/our government and generally do not participate!

The end result of that is that the council people can do exactly as they want without fear of the voters since most voters, especially in the “majority minority” districts, don't vote. Last night, on the important question re noticing for 825 de la Vina Street, councilmember A. Gutierrez sat there quiet, asked no questions, said nothing and then voted to support the developers. (Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez also said nothing but voted to support the neighbors.)


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