Two Tuesdays to Go: James Says He's Got Enough Kick to Catch Randy and Cathy in the Stretch

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By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

In his college days, James Joyce III competed as a Division 1 track and field athlete. Today, he compares his campaign for mayor of Santa Barbara to running in an 800-meter race.

As every close reader of Wikipedia knows, the 800 is a middle-distance event known for tactical racing: as all the runners converge into a single lane soon after the start, pacing and positioning become crucial and "often the winner...is not the fastest runner, but the athlete best positioned near the end of the race."

"This whole race has been about pacing myself - you can't sprint the whole time and you've got to time your kick," said Joyce, when we asked him to describe what he sees as his pathway to victory in the mayor's race.

He compared this political moment to coming out of the final curve in the twice-around-the- track 800, entering the stretch: "The stretch is where the movement begins," he told us. "Randy's out of gas, Deborah's out of gas, Cathy has no kick. This is where I kick -- this is where I emerge."

Not long ago, when the contest for mayor appeared to be a two-way duel between Mayor Cathy Murillo and ex-city council member Randy Rowse, Joyce's extended track analogy may have seemed far-fetched.

But he got a boost from several late, big endorsements, most notably from the Santa Barbara Independent, as well as from the Montecito Journal, which instantly raised his profile in the campaign, serving as validating signifiers that make it easier, both to urge support from voters on their doorsteps, and to seek contributions as a candidate with a legitimate chance to pull off an upset win.

"It's certainly easier to have conversations about fundraising now," James told us in a cell phone interview between campaign events on Tuesday. "And that helps amplify my message about bringing people together to have conversations to solve our toughest issues."

The ABCs

As a political matter, voters in every election involving an officeholder who seeks re-election always face a deceptively simple choice: The Incumbent vs Anyone But the Incumbent.

In the current campaign, Cathy has a loyal political base among left-wing Democrats, but has struggled over the past four years to expand her coalition, for reasons both political and temperamental, beyond that cohort.

Still, she enjoys an organizational advantage, based on the backing of the local Democratic Party, public employee unions and allied groups like Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club. So the task for the three major challengers is to become the champion of ABC voters -- Anybody But Cathy -- among the sizable majority of more moderate Democrats, liberals disillusioned with the mayor's first-term performance, along with independents and the 12 conservative Republicans left in town.

To date, Randy has appeared to be the most successful in consolidating the ABCs, as his embrace of a back-to-basics non-partisan approach to local government triggered a surprising and impressive outpouring of financial support from hundreds of donors who want to see change in city government.

Two weeks before Election Day, however, Joyce suddenly has moved from also-ran to high-profile alternative, with the potential to attract voters from what several private polls show is a large pool of undecideds, as well as to drain soft support from both Rowse and Murillo.

As a liberal Democrat who's paid his dues for over a decade working for Hannah Beth-Jackson, Das Williams and multiple campaigns, James on the natural seems more problematic for Cathy, with the potential to attract progressives unhappy with her personal style, or dearth of leadership in summoning support for citywide interests, while the city's first district-elected council devolved into sniping and squabbling, driven by personalities or micro-local issues.

At the same time, Joyce also is positioned to siphon votes in the middle of the political spectrum, from those constitutionally opposed to Murillo but dubious of the notion that an old white guy and council retread holds the cure for what ails City Hall or is the key to Santa Barbara's future.

To date, Joyce personally has met and spoken with voters at more than 2,000 stops while walking neighborhoods, according to his campaign, and he notes that in recent days, the tone of conversations has shifted, from complaints and commentary about various city problems, to more specific and pragmatic questions about who they'll vote for to do something about it.

"They say, 'oh, you're running for mayor?'" he said. "Thanks for stopping by - I need to start tuning in."

The first rule of politics: nobody knows nothin.

The latest line

Our Las Vegas Bureau Chief, Lazzaro (Lamb Chop) Lorighittas, reports a surge of recent Central Coast wagers, lowering the odds on James Joyce, and betting the under on Cathy Murillo. Based on absolutely no hard evidence, here is our 100 percent subjective and science-free take on the state of the race:

1-Randy Rowse. The erstwhile barkeep and restaurateur has had the clearest lane in the race, appealing to small business, moderate homeowners and the center-right, and he's been quite disciplined about staying in it. When the deal goes down, it could be that Randy peaked too soon, but he looks more fit from walking the neighborhoods, so at least fewer people are confusing him with Boris Johnson these days.

2-Cathy Murillo. A clear sign that Her Honor is in trouble is that her campaign surrogates now seem to spend at least as much time demonizing Rowse than in puffing up Cathy. This week, for example, Dem Party chair Darcel Elliott went on Josh Molina's podcast with an appeal aimed at scaring people into voting for the party's choice: "There's a fear of Randy getting in," she said. "I think that's a real fear for people...that's been compelling people to support Cathy."

3-James Joyce. Turns out that James, besides being a human track and field enthusiast, is also a spirited sportsman fond of the equine form of racing. In that vein, he this week put himself down as a 4-to-1 shot in the mayor's race, with Cathy at 5-to-2, Randy at 3-to-1, Deborah Schwartz at 10-to-1 and Mark Whitehurst and Matt Kilrain 50-to-1 entries.

4-Deborah Schwartz. Watching Deborah speak at forums reminds us of covering fellow Planning Commissioner Jay Higgins in his unsuccessful District 4 city council race four years ago: both are super smart, well-qualified and possess institutional and technical knowledge about city issues -and would probably be terrific in the jobs if only someone could appoint them.

5-Mark Whitehurst. The front-runner in the Room Rater sweepstakes, he rolled out at least his fourth different Zoom background this week, but is still running for the exercise.

6-Matt Kilrain. The guy keeps bragging that he's responsible for "Trump's trillion tree program," so apparently thinks it's okay for him to hammer nails into trees all over town to display is campaign signs.

We're just asking questions

Secret memo to Luz Reyes-Martin: When is the Women's Political Committee going to issue a sternly worded letter, as they did after Ed. St. George made sexist comments on the SB Talks podcast, criticizing Daraka Larimore Hall for trivializing and trashing Laura Capps, Deborah Schwartz, Kristen Sneddon and Helene Schneider in his own turn on the show? We'll take our answer off the air.

Now that District 4 candidate Barrett Reed has said he'll return $12,000 in don't-pass-the-smell test campaign contributions delivered on a single day from eight abstruse business entities controlled by real estate mogul Jim Knell, will Randy Rowse - who received the same amount from the same operations, on the same day - do the same?

And why isn't Tyler Hayden's must-read investigative rant, in which he goes scorched earth on Jeremy Lindaman, the secretive scam artist, political consultant and Helene Schneider consort who's at the center of the stonewalling scandal involving the Bellosguardo Estate, published in the main print edition of the Independent instead of appearing only online and in Tyler's subscription newsletter?

Castigat ridendo mores.

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lovesbalot Oct 23, 2021 12:37 PM
Two Tuesdays to Go: James Says He's Got Enough Kick to Catch Randy and Cathy in the Stretch

Byzantium: You mention the steep decline in services over the last 20 years. It sounds like you want change. James Joyce is offering change; an inclusive, civil discourse., sensible model for helping the homeless, understand affordable housing issues and has worked with Sacramento. He has over a decade of experience with politics and policy working for Former Senator Jackson and Das Williams.
He is also a good listener which is a quality that brings people together and results in getting priorities accomplished rather than the somewhat divisive situation we currently have. Please talk to James and you too may be seeing what so many are seeing... that he is a bridge builder with good ideas. He is not backed by big donors and has not raked in a ton of money but he counts on his integrity and ideas..
He has the momentum to make it to the finish line...:)

Byzantium Oct 22, 2021 05:40 PM
Two Tuesdays to Go: James Says He's Got Enough Kick to Catch Randy and Cathy in the Stretch

Being a former aide to Taxin'Jackson as his only political experience does not make Joyce a realistic contender. Nice guy maybe, but he needs to cut his teeth in some other capacity before going for the high profile job. Track record, please. City needs strong management skills, local government history and especially fiscal common sense at this particular time. "Inspiration" will not get us out of the current steep decline in over all city management and residential services that has been going on over the past 20 year free fall. Selecting and guiding a new city administrator will be key for this new city council - not the time for the untested. Not now. Other candidates have shown more depth and strength to meet what the city needs at this time. We don't need another "young man in a hurry". We need a seasoned guiding hand.

a-1634935819 Oct 22, 2021 01:50 PM
Two Tuesdays to Go: James Says He's Got Enough Kick to Catch Randy and Cathy in the Stretch

My household is voting for James, and so are our neighbors. We've all seen Cathy, Randy, and Deborah for more than a decade now. It's time to stop doubling down on what isn't working, and do something different. Yes to a businessman that knows how all levels of government are supposed to work, which is more than Randy, Deborah or Cathy know. Yes to someone who knows the games the state plays with housing, and how to fight it. Yes to someone who knows what to do in a disaster. Yes to a mayor that is inclusive and listens. Yes to solar panels on garage rooftops, creative solutions to homelessness and housing, and expanded opportunities. Go James!

MarcelK Oct 22, 2021 03:16 PM
Two Tuesdays to Go: James Says He's Got Enough Kick to Catch Randy and Cathy in the Stretch

How so? What does he have to do with party politics? The whole idea that there's party politics involved is just a propaganda ploy by the Rowse, who has nothing positive to run on. Everyone has an ideology ... some lean left, and so are supported by Democrats, and some like Rowse lean right and so is supported by Republicans, right wingers, developers, commercial property owners, the business class, etc.

lovesbalot Oct 22, 2021 11:43 AM
Two Tuesdays to Go: James Says He's Got Enough Kick to Catch Randy and Cathy in the Stretch

"Now that District 4 candidate Barrett Reed has said he'll return $12,000 in don't-pass-the-smell test campaign contributions delivered on a single day from eight abstruse business entities controlled by real estate mogul Jim Knell, will Randy Rowse - who received the same amount from the same operations, on the same day - do the same? " Thanks for raising this Jerry. Love Newsmakers !

a-1634927225 Oct 22, 2021 11:27 AM
Two Tuesdays to Go: James Says He's Got Enough Kick to Catch Randy and Cathy in the Stretch

Randy Rouse was on the City Council for years where he had the opportunity to fix all these problems (which are not new to Santa Barbara), so why didn't he then? Has something changed that he has somehow figured out how and is not telling anyone? Santa Barbara needs a new mayor - clean slate - someone is a person of action.

salsipuedes Oct 22, 2021 10:43 AM
Two Tuesdays to Go: James Says He's Got Enough Kick to Catch Randy and Cathy in the Stretch

Since it's a five-year term this time, I hope voters really pay attention about the person they're voting for. Gaining the thoughtful endorsements of both the Indy and the Montecito Journal is no easy task (of course Randy was endorsed by the News-Press--that ought to mean something to would-be voters). James earned the three votes in my household for his calm demeanor, knowledge of the issues and the respect he shows to community members and the City of Santa Barbara.

lovesbalot Oct 22, 2021 10:43 AM
Two Tuesdays to Go: James Says He's Got Enough Kick to Catch Randy and Cathy in the Stretch

oops typo: 2% of english language learners and 6% of those with learning differences are eligible to take the A-G's and apply to 4 year UC,... that means 98% of english language learners are not even able to apply and 94% of those with learning differences ever get to apply to a 4 year UC. This is something our community needs to be willing to discuss beyond the 2 minutes you get at an school board meeting. Town Hall meetings include more voices and are designed for action .. which is what we need.

lovesbalot Oct 22, 2021 10:24 AM
Two Tuesdays to Go: James Says He's Got Enough Kick to Catch Randy and Cathy in the Stretch

I am voting & canvasing for James because he is refreshing, innovative and personable with a respectful approach that will bring back civility to city hall and help get citizen's needs met. I also like that he is inclusive and open to listening. He supports town hall meetings so more ideas can be included on healthcare, education and other issues. He also values education . When only 6 % of our students with differences take the A-G's and only 2% of our english language learners take the A-G's, they are NOT eligible to apply to a 4year UC. Sure they can go to SBCC , but are not prepared and it should not be the only choice. The district does not change it's approach to reading and cannot do this alone as abysmally low test scores for decades attest. I am glad to see the community take this on. Low literacy is inexplicably linked to incarceration, homelessness and mental health issues. He is also the only candidate that does not fill your mailbox with his promo material which is environmentally unfriendly and most people just toss it in the trash.... Wish all candidates considered dropping mailers....:) Go James... we need you.

a-1634971865 Oct 22, 2021 11:51 PM
Two Tuesdays to Go: James Says He's Got Enough Kick to Catch Randy and Cathy in the Stretch

I can. His style of leadership is inclusive - bring all the voices to the table. Randy mansplains at you, and is often badly wrong when it really counted to be right (no rent moratoriums - leave it to the landlords to work it out with tenants, and closing State wasn't such a good idea), and Cathy won't talk to you if you're not in her clique of special insider friends (looking at you, Dem Party Chair Darcel Elliot, and Das Williams Chief of Staff - no conflict there, right?) James knows the roles the county / feds/ state are supposed to play, and often don't, because the city doesn't press them. He has relationships he can leverage to the city's benefit. James has run a business - he gets how hard that can be here. He wants to see more opportunities for Santa Barbarans, not just eternal low-paying tourism jobs. He knows the state and feds and county have the resources to solve homelessness, and he can leverage relationships there to help this city, something the current mayor is inept at. She used Measure C money, which was supposed to be for roads. He will be a total breath of fresh air, and we badly need one.

Byzantium Oct 22, 2021 08:38 PM
Two Tuesdays to Go: James Says He's Got Enough Kick to Catch Randy and Cathy in the Stretch

City council has nothing to do with local school districts which are state Dept of Education operations. Any mayor candidate who runs on fixing our schools demonstrate he knows nothing about local governance, the law, the city, the state or budgeting. He needs to run for the school board first and get acquainted with local issues. "Listening to the people" is an absurd suggestion because they are all over the place. Candidates are known by their deeds through their experiences; not their promises. No more pie in the sky failures, please and stick to the office one is running for -color only within the lines if we are to accomplish anything. Things have been too emotional and too out of control -we don't need an inexperienced contrarian to screw things up even more.

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