Candidate Conversations: SBUSD, SBCC & County Ed Board Hopefuls Talk Schools, Safety & Test Scores

By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

Seven weeks before the Nov. 8 election, the most consequential and competitive campaign contests in Santa Barbara center on public education.

Across the nation, the 2022 mid-terms feature a collection of bitter and costly political battles for House and Senate seats that may determine far more than partisan control of Congress: the anti-democracy, pro-authoritarian transformation of the Trump-dominated Republican party imperils foundational values of the American system itself: the rule of law, honest elections, the peaceful transfer of power, for starters.

Closer to home, however, the most notable and urgent election conflicts amid the local political landscape are unfolding over ostensibly non-partisan jobs that carry responsibility for overseeing the administration, finances, quality and safety of taxpayer-funded institutions of learning, from transitional kindergarten to college.

In an effort to magnify the visibility, and highlight the importance, of the campaigns of candidates seeking these low-profile, hyper-local, often thankless, but enormously important elected offices Newsmakers has partnered with the Montecito Journal to produce a series of online forums where the contenders debate, discuss and drill down on the complex, formidable and stubborn challenges facing public education at every level in Santa Barbara County.

This week we spoke with, and asked questions of, candidates for the Santa Barbara Unified School District, the County Board of Education and SB City College. All but one candidate on the ballot in the three contests accepted our invitation to present their ideas, values and proposed solutions for the difficult, sometimes seemingly intractable, problems confronting students, teachers, parents and administrators in our community.

We thank them for their participation and for putting themselves out there, doing the grinding hard work of competing in the public arena.


Kate Ford’s surprise decision not to seek re-election has produced an open seat on the five-member school board, now being sought by three candidates with very different backgrounds and perspectives — UCSB administrator and community activist Gabe Escobedo; retired classroom assistant Ephigenia “Efi” Banales (who had camera issues on Zoom); parent and non-profit executive Dan La Berge.

Watch the SBUSD forum via YouTube below or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here.


Longtime board incumbent and prominent non-profit volunteer Marybeth Carty is being challenged by veteran neighborhood schools activist Rosanne Crawford. A key issue in the race: testing the limits of power and influence of the often overlooked county board.

Watch the conversation via YouTube below or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here,


The retirement of longtime trustee and SBCC professor Peter Haslund created an opening on the seven-member board of trustees. Nurse practitioner and CSU Channel Islands professor Charlotte Gullap-Moore spoke with us at length; her opponent, small businesswoman Debi Stoker, refused to participate unless we changed the format we chose for all our forums, a demand we declined to accommodate.

Watch the conversation with Charlotte Gullap-Moore via YouTube below or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here.

More to come.


Written by Jerry Roberts

“Newsmakers” is a multimedia journalism platform that focuses on politics, media and public affairs in Santa Barbara. Learn more at

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  1. I see Christy Lozano is trying to slither back in – running for district 3 school board in Goleta. Her and James Fekner of the far-right group “Fair Education” were pitching some ridiculous private school idea at the Boys and Girls club and got run off. These are dangerous people keep them out of schools. Christy wouldn’t even be re-hired as a teacher in Goleta or Santa Barbara.

  2. Just read the article on Noozhawk about a forum featuring many of the conservative candidates for the different school boards in the so. County. California Parents Union supports very conservative views. Never heard of them before but voters should be wary of anyone who is aligned with them. Writer starts with ‘a room full of angry parents’. She then states there were 10 candidates and 15 people in the audience. These conservatives are part of a national movement that wants to control public education so only their restricted viewpoints are taught. These rabid anti-vax and anti-mask and anti-teachers union candidates need to be exposed for what they are. The Ken Burns series running on PBS clearly shows what happened in the 30s when people didn’t pay attention.

  3. Caroline Abate send me a campaign flyer warning me that: “Telling young, immature children about serious sexual topics and difficult racial issues is harming their mental health and stability and leading to violent public outbursts later in life that threaten school and public safety.”
    Ok, let’s count the blatant and outright LIES here…..
    “Telling” kids, not even teaching them, will cause this. Even if a parent says something to a kid, they will go crazy and attack people when they’re older. Prove it.
    “harming their mental health” – where is that been proven? Kids who learn about racism and trans issues suffer mental health issues as a result? Prove it.
    My favorite – “leading to violent public outbursts…..” – Don’t you dare teach (or even “TELL”) kids about racism or trans issues or they will turn into violent criminals that threaten your safety. How many violent crime were caused by being “told” about racism and/or trans issues? Prove it.
    I am ashamed for our city that this woman was even allowed to run, much less send out blatant lies to the families in Goleta. Some poor saps have even fallen for her paranoid BS and planted her signs in their yards. I know which houses to avoid now at Halloween or block parties!

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