Who Does Jason Dominguez Represent?
By William Smithers
District elections were mandated in this state to assure that citizens having large populations in certain community areas, but who are a minority over all, have proper representation in local government.
Whether those elected via this method actually vote in the interests of the community at large is a vital question - and should be a matter of evidence.
Take the case of Santa Barbara city council member Jason Dominguez.
Anyone following SB municipal affairs knows that he is extremely reluctant to spend the city's money. While fiscal responsibility is prudent, and Mr. Dominguez may be praised for looking out for the pocketbooks of his constituents, blind obsession in this regard can pose real risks for the community at large and an excuse for avoiding responsibility to the community at large.
California has determined that medical and recreational use of marijuana is legal in this state, and its legislature enabled communities to regulate its sale and use.
Several applications appeared in SB for facilities providing marijuana use and/or medical purposes. One of these was for a facility on Milpas Street in Dominguez's District 1.
The council member vigorously fought against granting license for this facility, demanding a stipulated separation zone from schools of 800 feet, 200 feet more than the city's previous strictest provision – in effect dooming its possible acceptance.
In other words, Santa Barbara's government, in an effort properly to implement the state's provisions, sought to license marijuana facilities in several city neighborhoods. But council member Dominguez said, in effect, “Not mine!”
Then-council-member Bendy White properly and accurately complained that Mr. Dominguez was ignoring the city's overall community responsibility in favor of “Not In My Backyard.”
More recently, the SB city council voted 5-1 to spend several million dollars in an effort to eliminate, or ameliorate, the stink, algaic contamination, environmental damage and wildlife diminution at the Astree Clark Bird Refuge.
Dominguez alone stood in opposition, saying, “No! Wait a year and see if science comes up with a solution that may cost less.”
In other words, citing hoped-for scientific solutions for which no evidence existed, council member Dominguez turned his back on any option described by staff to deal with the current discomfort and environmental concerns of Santa Barbarans not in his district.
In my view, evidence is clear, and is accumulating, that Jason Dominguez is a district-elected politician who will consistently ignore – or oppose – obvious political/social/environmental needs of the community-as-a whole in which he lives.
In conclusion, I believe that no one having this perfervid – and colloquial - obsession should be given the responsibility to represent the entire city of Santa Barbara when considering county-wide measures at SBCAG.
Cathy Murillo, when elected as district representative, never lost sight of both fiscal responsibility and community-wide social awareness. And as mayor she was elected by the community at large and should represent the community at large.
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