12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

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By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

Cathy Murillo's chances of winning a new, five-year, term got a boost Tuesday, with official word that the field for mayor of Santa Barbara now comprises six - 6, count 'em, 6 - candidates.

The late entry of publisher Mark Whitehurst, along with the unexpected candidacy of eclectic Funk Zone investor Matt Kilrain, into a field of challengers that already included former city council member Randy Rowse, Planning Commissioner Deborah Schwartz and entrepreneur James Joyce, will further dilute the vote for mayor in the winner-take-all contest, bolstering the weight of incumbent Murillo's loyal 27 percent base.

Because Santa Barbara's current, irrational election system does not require a run-off between the top two finishers for the only position elected citywide, a large field of mayoral contenders makes it likely that a sizable majority of voters will favor a candidate other than the winner; Exhibit A for the daftness is Murillo, the flag bearer of the Democratic Party, who began her troubled first term with more than three of four voters having cast ballots against her.

Not surprisingly, she likes the current system just fine.

The new guys

Of the two new names on the ballot, Whitehurst is better known, as the owner and publisher of Voice, a weekly newsprint tabloid. Previously known as Casa, it carries a mix of community and local arts and entertainment content, financed with revenue from real estate advertising.

Unlike certain historic California press barons who made the switch to politics -- think William Randolph Hearst, William F. Knowland and the Otis and Chandler clans -- Whitehurst appears to have more modest goals, telling Newsmakers he decided to run, in part, because of his lived experience as father to a homeless son:

"Several weeks ago a series of things caused me to reevaluate my role," he wrote in an email.

"I had been reflecting on the needs of our city's art and culture sector, the massive changes to our world class image with the introduction of the Promenade and COVID adaptations, and the upcoming re-opening of the art museum. In the midst of this, my often homeless son was hospitalized and received stellar care here in SB...

All of this, moved me to engage in a new way and motivated me to run for mayor."

As a political matter, Whitehurst's entry potentially cramps Rowse the most: another, like-minded old white guy urging non-partisan pragmatism and private sector perspective.

The lesser known Kilrain, who brands himself as "Boat Rat Matt," displays his myriad business interests on an eponymous website; one of his companies, "Chrismattic Investments," is described as a "small time investment corporation that has been building a house in Big Bear with cash money that it makes from Chrismattic Car Care and from flipping boats with Boat Rat Matt."

The core promise of his campaign:

"Boat Rat Matt will develop and implement a profit sharing program whereas the citizens own the BUSINESS OF SANTA BARBARA and recieve (sic) a dividend and a pension for living in Santa Barbara."

Such a deal.

City Hall tax mandate

An old precept of political campaigns says that when you're losing, pick a fight.

Joyce, founder of the Coffee with a Black Guy franchise, who has lagged the field early, did just that this week.

Seeking to jump back into the conversation, he called for mandated vaccinations or testing for all city employees.

“It’s time to require vaccines or weekly testing for all City employees, in fact, it’s long overdue," he said in a news release. ".At a bare minimum, the government should focus on keeping people alive. We have seen increased COVID infections, yet are woefully behind on our vaccination rate. The City of Santa Barbara has more than 1000 employees, and getting these employees fully vaccinated will help save lives.”

His rivals were skeptical.

Murillo disclosed in an email that "a vaccination requirement is currently under discussion" with the City Hall unions to whom she caters, and which return the favor with campaign contributions. "The safety of our city staff and public is paramount," she wrote us.. "We are continually evaluating our procedures internally and with our public employee unions to ensure the highest level of safety."

Rowse said that while he agrees "everyone should be vaccinated...I hesitate to have elected officials make medical and work-related policy."

"The political divisiveness over everything has been part of the resistance to vaccination, due to mistrust of public officials," he added. "No. I favor bringing everyone on board with straightforward information...Should a district-elected council be reinterpreting the direction of our designated health-care professionals?"

Schwartz took a mild shot at James in her response, saying she favors "outreach and communication first before making one-directional statements (such as a press release) about policy changes.

" It's vital that this not be made a politicized issue, and I would be disappointed with anyone for doing so," Schwartz added.

Two clashes and a coronation

In the end Eric Friedman skated, as City Clerk Sarah Gorman on Tuesday released a final candidate list, which shows he is unopposed in District 5.

Not so District 4 incumbent Kristen Sneddon, who faces robust opposition from flush-with-cash developer and fellow SBHS Don Barrett Reed, nor District 6 appointed incumbent Meagan Harmon, opposed by longtime City Hall insider Nina Johnson, business owner Jason Carlton and DJ Zachary Pike..

The 2 question question on recall

Joe Holland, our steadfast county election czar, who's running both the Nov. 3 city election and the Sept. 14 balloting in the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom, got the voters handbook for the recall into mailboxes in a timely fashion this week, and the sample ballot shows the complexity behind the deceptively simple issue of whether to vote to oust Prince Gavin.

The ballot includes two items, in quick succession. The first:

Shall Gavin Newsom be recalled (removed) from the office of Governor?

Followed by this language:

"Candidates to succeed Gavin Newsom as Governor if he is recalled":

Which is followed by a list of 46 wannabe governors, including one Libertarian, two Green Party members, 10 No Party Preference independents, 24 Republicans and 10 no-name Democrats, who did not obey the party's fatwa ordering all Dems to stay off the ballot, in a bid to aid Team Gavin's political calculations.

Newsom and his allies were out this week asking their supporters to ignore the second question, and only to answer the first -- No on recall -- a high-risk gamble that essentially cedes the decision on a new governor, should Prince Gavin be recalled, to a tiny number of Republican voters.

What Willie sez. Among Democrats feeling anxious about the recall is California political icon Willie Brown, Newsom's mentor, who appointed him to his first positions in local government in San Francisco several decades ago.

Carla Marinucci, ace California correspondent for Politico, sat down for lunch with Brown, and filed this report:

Among those raising the alarm is Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco and sage of the state Assembly, who laid out his concerns during a two-hour lunch at John’s Grill this weekend in San Francisco. Over shrimp cocktails and fish and chips, Brown — who mentored Newsom and appointed him to his first political position — had some stark advice for the governor’s team: Move it.

“As of Election Day, Gavin is behind by 2.1 million votes: the people who signed those recall petitions,” Brown told us. “And they are all going to vote.” Newsom may have a big money advantage with $45 million in the bank, as Jeremy reported Friday. But “money is not going to win this election,” Brown added. “It is not a traditional campaign.”

Brown said his daily conversations with Democrats on the street still show some shocking ignorance about the coming election among Newsom’s base voters. Case in point: He says Democrats at a recent Chinatown gathering told him “they were going to vote ‘yes’ on the recall ballot to help Gavin.’’ He had to school them: “No! You have to vote no.”

So there's that.

Hot podcast

City Hall is abuzz and agog over Josh Molina's latest podcast interview, with iconoclast developer Ed St. George. The whole thing is worth a listen, but don't miss St' George's oh-so-retrograde patriarchal sexist rap about council member Harmon, which begins around the 12:30 mark and continues for an excruciatingly cringeworthy 10 minutes.

Newsmakers says check it out.

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Rypert Johnson Aug 12, 2021 05:32 AM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

So Mr. Foran pulled out of the 5th district race and now Mr. Friedman is running uncontested? Sounds to me like the truth behind Mr. Foran's extreme leftist intentions and policies came to light.
His involvement with the aggressive meddling in Isla Vista community issues through his Eco-Vista organization and its ties to other extremely radicalized groups being brought into the public eye must have also had an effect on this particular outcome.
Mr. Foran's dropping out of the 5th District race is a great thing, not only for the City of Santa Barbara, but for the county as well.
His leadership, under the influence of his politics and agenda, would've resulted in a social and political train wreck that would've taken a lot of time, and money to repair.
The residents if Santa Barbara's 5th District have dodged a political bullet this time, but it is never over, considering the ties and involvement to radicalized groups Mr. Foran maintains.
Be wary folks, agents of Mr. Foran's beliefs and agenda will try to make inroads to city and county politics in the near future and the best way to avoid the socio-political nightmare they want to unleash on our communities is to know who these agents are, as well as their misguided agendas.
But for now, you can breathe a sigh of relief and elect a candidate that will not bring crime, filth and squalor to your parks and open spaces. Congratulations!

Rypert Johnson Aug 12, 2021 11:10 AM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

PITMIX, no, I definitely DO NOT support what you are describing as "egregious government overreach" in any way whatsoever.
We can BOTH agree on that point, but it seems to be the only point against Mr. Friedman that you can find.
In the case of Mr. Foran, I can find NUMEROUS policies in his agenda that would make Mr. Friedman's "tree attack" a minnow in an a ocean.
It seems to me you are more fixated on your dislike of me and my words than you are of Mr. Friedman's sole tree kerfuffle.
If that is the case and you're willing to vote for a candidate with super-flawed policies and a sinister overall agenda disguised as "sticking up for the downtrodden" just because of your disdain toward me, then you are just as gullible as the minnions Mr. Foran grooms in his classroom to go out and destroy communities.
So please, go right ahead and vote against me, if your wish comes true, then congratulations, you deserve the misery you were warned against, but the best part is it will be in your neck of the woods, not mine.
We cut him and his minnions off at the pass here in Isla Vista and our community is now back to being a safe place and the parks are being cleaned and cleared of the mess Mr. Foran and his minnions wanted to perpetuate. We won.
So, best of luck with your choice. Oh, wait, your choice pulled out of the race. Well, best of luck anyways.

PitMix Aug 12, 2021 10:50 AM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

Do you also support Friedman's vote against the homeowner that jumped through all of the City hoops to remove an overly large non-native tree causing damage to her yard, got approved, and then was denied except for the Council's Gutierrez pair? If I lived in his District, I would vote against him just for that. Egregious government overreach.

RHS Aug 11, 2021 06:23 PM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

Ranked choice voting is a great advancement in democracy as it allows lesser candidates to be heard. and their ideas entered into the dialogue. We need to end the "two party system" which is strangling democracy in this country.

RHS Aug 12, 2021 01:26 PM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

Byz--whom do you think would make the call to eject someone for their campaign endorsements? Trump? The courts recognize the 1st Amendment and I hope they never try to make the call as to who is allowed to run on the basis of whom they represent. (I do think this is, however, the practice in Russia.)

Byzantium Aug 12, 2021 07:55 AM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

City council, school boards and county supervisors are already non-partisan offices. Simply eject any candidate who brings the baggage of partisan political endorsements, money and support along with. them. They will obviously not be putting your interests first. Follow their campaign funding to learn which special interests you want running things if they get elected. Who is fielding their GOTV troops walking the neighborhoods - grass roots or self-interested astroturf?

Big block Aug 11, 2021 04:23 PM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

This quote from the article sizes up the entire problem with electing a mayor:

"Because Santa Barbara's current, irrational election system does not require a run-off between the top two finishers for the only position elected citywide, a large field of mayoral contenders makes it likely that a sizable majority of voters will favor a candidate other than the winner."

What does it take to change the way we elect a mayor to require a runoff of the top two contenders in the next regular election?

a-1628722499 Aug 11, 2021 03:54 PM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

I’m glad someone else noticed St George’s creepy comments regarding Harmon and “every woman’s dream to be a mother” It is unfortunate there are so many people contending for Mayor. Cathy has been the most ineffective and uninvolved mayor this city has ever had. What the public wants has no impact on her whatsoever. If 1000 people stood up and opposed something in their neighborhood she wouldn’t care. No one has any business being mayor with 27% of the vote.

Byzantium Aug 11, 2021 01:08 PM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

PitMix, take the billions raised every year under the statewide MHSA (Mental Health Services Act) passed by voters years ago, along with the good money locally going after bad that is now directed to Homeless Inc and concentrate those resources to permanently getting people off the street as a state response, not a band-aid vagrant-magnet local response. Why should only Santa Barbara, according to a recent count, have nearly a thousand illegal campers, while surrounding communities have only numbers in the double digits? Santa Barbara is clearly doing something very wrong, so yes we do need to stop doing in and funding the high overhead of the local Homeless Inc staffers and put these resources into real solutions. Other communities have found the "magic wand" because their numbers are so low. Why have the billions now wasted on MHSA only grown this problem? Why is Santa Barbara the only local vagrant magnet? Voters assumed this would get this population off the streets years ago when they passed the MHSA. Why are we still funding the MHSA, when it has failed so miserably. Monique Limon and Steven Bennett must account for this continual misuse of public funds. Where are they? Why are they not ahead of this issue.

a-1628711793 Aug 11, 2021 12:56 PM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

Why Molina caters to jerks like St. George is hard to understand. Probably it is because Molina is impressed with "money" and those who have it. St. George is ruthlessly manipulative and plays the game like a mini-Trump. Everything is transactional--what can you do for me if I do for you? Anyone St. George speaks well of in politics needs to be vetted to see if they are infected with his donations and access.

Byzantium Aug 11, 2021 10:24 AM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

How is the Rose Garden Inn campsite redistribution working for the downtown vagrancy problem - Upper State is now starting to look as bad as Milpas Street near the shelter site - bodies now camped and stretched out on the sidewalks on Upper State too. Thanks, City Council. And plenty of police cars in the Rose Garden Inn parking lot. Looking forward to the detailed audit when the first four months are over, and Homeless Inc comes back for more cash and more time.

a-1628793600 Aug 12, 2021 11:40 AM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

Byz is partially right. There are two distinct business models of Homeless, Inc:
1. Moving people out of homelessness into treatment, housing, reunification with family, sober living.
2. Aid for the homeless to stay homeless - food, shelters, clothing, money from panhandling.
We need to place more bets (funding) on the first group, and quit funding the second one. We need to tell friends and neighbors to stop giving $$$ to panhandlers. It keeps the homeless... homeless.

LooseCannon Aug 11, 2021 05:17 PM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

As someone who lives on the Lower Riviera/Upper East/Mission area, who regularly walks through the Alameda park on my way to and from downtown, I have noticed that the number of homeless people camping in tents has been substantially reduced, and from my point of view, that is a good thing. I think that the idea of city and state agencies buying up forlorn motels and converting them to shelters is a good interim solution that is humane. Better than having people camped out and crapping in the parks.

Bird Aug 11, 2021 02:34 PM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

If that's so, then those on upper State will understand what those of us on the Eastside have seen for the last years. Perhaps if the houseless problems are visible citywide, something will be done. But what can be done? Wasn't the Rose Garden Inn supposed to provide housing, but maybe it is too few housing units for the need? ...And if there are no more rooms, why are people on the sidewalk there and not in more comfortable camping areas than State Street sidewalk?

PitMix Aug 11, 2021 11:21 AM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

Because if we get rid of what Byz fondly calls "homeless inc", the homeless problem will be solved. Mentally ill and alcoholic and drug addicted people will go back to where they come from. I like this magical thinking, it explains a lot.

Byzantium Aug 11, 2021 10:20 AM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

Harmon's primary job is represent the best interests of her district, which she has done badly. Bring in someone who has the time and focus to do the job to which one is elected to do. This critical downtown district is being abused by lack of attention, and should never be used as merely one's political career stepping stone. Harmon was a mistaken choice for this position. Thank you Nina Johnson for seeing it for what it is - a badly neglected and deteriorating part of town that is critical for the city's overall well-being. Nina's pragmatic approach and in-house municipal governance experience will be a very welcome change. Best would be someone well outside the swamp, but that is not viable in this one party town.

Byzantium Aug 11, 2021 12:58 PM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

PitMix: How does her statement that she is retiring from her current city position before she chose to run for this office work with the city's current conflict of interest rules or city council code of ethics? Or is it like the current policy that no city council member needs to recuse themself, nor even disclose they took the majority of their campaign donations, endorsements and/or support from city union employees and their deceptively named PAC's?

a-1628702061 Aug 11, 2021 10:14 AM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

Molina has a known sexism problem, crushing visibly on certain female leaders, getting quotes from them on everything, and using his stories to boost their profile and career. He's also known to then turn on them, and take a lead in burning them at the stake. Other female leaders he ignores completely, effectively silencing them, which is also sexism. This interview was extra creepy because it shows how 'bros really think and talk when they don't realize people are watching. We keep thinking we're past this crap, but Cuomo shows no, there's a long way to go, especially with guys who think they're powerful. The question on why Ed and Josh didn't give the same advice to Reed is perfectly relevant.

Bird Aug 11, 2021 10:07 AM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

Actually, Josh Molina is "cringeworthy", just as much, if not more than builder-developer Ed St. George. St. George is probably in his late 50's, proudly working class and presents those (often praise-worthy values.) One of them not so praiseworthy is a probably unconscious sexism, "girl", for instance, is probably intended as a compliment. What is Josh Molina's excuse? Why does he give such preference to Meagan Harmon in reporting and in letting St. George get away without comment the clear sexist praise of one candidate while not asking why owner-developer-father Barrett Reed should not also take time off to be with his young children? Both have demanding careers, both have mostly stay-at-home spouses doing childcare!

That said, Nina Johnson for the 6th district is a tremendously exciting candidate, especially to end the often bitter sniping that goes on now from that council seat.

a-1628701384 Aug 11, 2021 10:03 AM
12 Tuesdays to Go: 6-Way Fray for SB Mayor, Vaccine Mandate Scrum

Um I think this is a mask mandate, not tax mandate. Wow. What a field of mayoral candidates. Unless some of them start talking about the Big Stuff: fire, drought, evacuations for the lower Westside when it rains, homeless hotel dwellers back out on the street in October, total failure of County services (mental health, addiction) to deal with so many of the homeless, pending state legislation that ends single-family homes and extends the parklets for at least a year...I don't see anyone in the mix that's compelling or competent enough for this job, except for Nina Johnson and James Joyce. The incumbents are a total fail.

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