SB Mayor's Race: 3 Top Challengers Meet (Virtually) Face-to-Face, Cathy Steers Clear of Rivals

SB Mayor's Race: 3 Top Challengers Meet (Virtually) Face-to-Face, Cathy Steers Clear of Rivals title=
SB Mayor's Race: 3 Top Challengers Meet (Virtually) Face-to-Face, Cathy Steers Clear of Rivals
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By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

For the first time in the race, the three leading challengers to Mayor Cathy Murillo met face-to-face on Wednesday (virtually anyway), as James Joyce, Randy Rowse and Deborah Schwartz joined in a civil, substantive and fast-paced discussion about the most consequential matter facing City Hall: the hiring of a new City Administrator to replace the retiring Paul Casey.

"Santa Barbara (now) has a reputation for dysfunction," former council member Rowse said on the Newsmakers TV event, citing widespread media reports detailing political mayhem over the last year as a potential obstacle in attracting top candidates from outside the city.

Job One for a new Administrator and the next mayor, Planning Commissioner Schwartz said repeatedly, is to mitigate a "toxic culture" that now permeates City Hall and reconnect city government to the neighborhoods through political and policy "bridge-building."

The city's new, non-elected chief executive, said entrepreneur and former state legislative aide Joyce, should be "a leader, not a boss," who improves communications and boosts accountability in the bureaucracy so it acts in alignment, not opposition, to goals established by city council.

Incumbent Cathy Murillo informed us earlier this week that she was "booked for Wednesday morning" and would be unable to join her rivals in the recorded Zoom conversation. Mayor Cathy instead emailed a list of 13 bullet points which she described as "important qualities in a city administrator."

"Thanks for understanding," she wrote.

Although the moderator wove several of the mayor's emailed priorities into the discussion ("an appreciation of the changing nature of law enforcement" and "understanding challenges that may arise from a district-based council"), Murillo's absence from the event, as a political matter, left her in the free fire zone.

Schwartz and Rowse both pointedly criticized her over matters of substance and tone, and for allegedly allowing personal, political and ideological conflicts to blunt efforts to build consensus with her council colleagues and seek unity in the community.

Having invited the challengers to drop by our Zoom call at their convenience, it was somewhat of a surprise when they all appeared in the virtual "waiting room" almost simultaneously, and hung in for the entire discussion.

Consider it spring (mid-summer?) training for the packed schedule of mayoral and council candidate forums that lie ahead.

Check out our conversation with the mayoral hopefuls via YouTube below or by clicking through on this link. The podcast version is here.

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Babycakes Jul 30, 2021 11:40 AM
SB Mayor's Race: 3 Top Challengers Meet (Virtually) Face-to-Face, Cathy Steers Clear of Rivals

MesaRats: I think you are not taking into account that Mayor Murillo is a person of few words and does not seek the limelight. She is a person of action, and does what is best for the city. The optics may be bad, but keep in mind that she's kept crime down, kept businesses open, brought new businesses to town, and yet still manages to keep the city under budget. What else do people expect from a mayor except all that she has provided us? Certainly she is the best mayor of SB in the last 40 years...maybe even before that!

SantaBarbaraObserver Jul 30, 2021 07:24 AM
SB Mayor's Race: 3 Top Challengers Meet (Virtually) Face-to-Face, Cathy Steers Clear of Rivals

Wow, Cathy was a no show? What a wimp. She really has proven herself to be incompetent, incapable, ineffective and and utterly inept leader and is certainly someone who really has no business being put in charge of anything. How a person whose entire management experience consisted of overseeing a budget of in the hundreds of dollars for construction paper, crayons and paste was ever chosen Mayor of a city the size and scope of SB is the real problem. Why would the power brokers want an ineffective, incapable, inept noodle-brain in charge? Why did they support her in the first place? That's the real problem with our city.

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