Kristen vs Barrett, Round 1: A Lively and Contentious Clash Over Substance and Style

Kristen vs Barrett, Round 1: A Lively and Contentious Clash Over Substance and Style title=
Kristen vs Barrett, Round 1: A Lively and Contentious Clash Over Substance and Style
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By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

Kristen Sneddon staunchly defended her record against an onslaught of aggressive criticism from Barrett Reed on Wednesday night, as the city council race rivals clashed in the first true "debate" of Santa Barbara's election season.

With incumbent Sneddon and challenger Reed the only two candidates running in the District 4 contest, the pair were able to speak directly to and at each other, during a lively and contentious hourlong affair produced by Newsmakers, SB Talks and TVSB.

The combative tone contrasted with the more genteel tenor of two earlier candidate forums, for mayor and council's District 6 seat, which included six and four contenders respectively, obviating the opportunity for one-on-one clashes.

"I'm running on my record of accomplishment," said council member and City College professor Sneddon. "I'm going to give myself an 'A' for effort."

"The state of our city is alarming," responded Reed, a downtown developer. "People want change and they want it now,"

The comments from the two Santa Barbara High School alums (Go Dons) summed up the night -- as well as the choice for District 4 voters -- as Sneddon contrasted what she called her "holistic...long-term visionary" perspective on public policy, with a "just one view" approach represented by her developer foe, while Reed attacked her for an "inconsistent" style and a lack of urgency in dealing with the city's multiple crises and chronic problems..

Sneddon credited herself for initiating the push to develop a long-term strategy for downtown economic revitalization via the State Street Master Planning Committee, while also highlighting her behind-the-scenes work on climate change issues, through leadership of the Sea Level Rise Adaptation Committee, and blaming the pandemic -- not the council's political and personality-driven antagonisms - for much of City Hall's recent turnover and turmoil.

Reed, however, portrayed her as part of a do-nothing City Hall culture that holds endless meeting, commissions countless studies and compiles endless reports -- "I will not simply study our problems, I'll take action" -- while cherry picking past comments and votes on issues to blame her for delays in building needed housing and for much of the "divisiveness" on the council, which he said is "repelling talent" from coming to work in city government.

The sharpest difference between the two emerged over homelessness.

Sneddon said that recent actions taken by council have put the city on "the precipice (of) long-term transformational change," through a strategy of approaching the homeless on a one-on-one basis and moving them from temporary to "bridge" to "permanent housing with wraparound services." -- "We're seeing tremendous progress like we haven't seen before," she said.

Reed responded that "it is hard to see" any progress, adding that many voters in the district have told him they are unwilling or afraid to take their families downtown because "it's a dirty, kind of scary place to be. While additional shelter is needed, the city also needs to impose greater enforcement of laws against "camping, public drug use, urination and defecation -- it's bad," he said.

Room Rater: No doubt mindful of the savagely tough grading Newsmakers has applied to Zoom backgrounds of candidates in the previous two forums, both Sneddon and Reed positioned themselves before aesthetically pleasing and well-balanced backdrops with excellent Feng shui.

Kristen: Campaign sign a good splash of color on white wall, stacked climate science books good subliminal messaging. Bonus for bromeliad plant: 9/10.

Barrett: Dramatic Will Adler shoreline photograph dominates, offset by surf board and family photo personal touches. Double bonus for Fiddle-leaf fig: 10/10.

You can watch the debate via YouTube below or by clicking through this link, and the audio version is here.

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RHS Sep 10, 2021 11:38 AM
Kristen vs Barrett, Round 1: A Lively and Contentious Clash Over Substance and Style

This is so simple. Barrett is a developer. Everything he sees is a market for exploitation and profit. This transactional approach means that the highest bidder wins, he gets richer, the middle class and the unable to compete are just ignored, or worse, pilloried as unworthy and even evil. Sneddon gets the idea that municipal government is supposed to represent all aspects of the population. She is thoughtful and does not seem sold to any single perspective. Barrett thinks he can buy a seat at the divvying up table by getting his buds to fund his extraordinarily expensive effort. I cannot believe that he really wants the job but I do believe he is buying the opportunity to make his real work more profitable. Thankfully the voters in this district will be the ones making this decision and I trust they have a personal perspective on the issues and will not be misled by the big money being spent.

Bird Sep 10, 2021 01:39 PM
Kristen vs Barrett, Round 1: A Lively and Contentious Clash Over Substance and Style

Reed's a newcomer to District 4, moved there from District 1, attracted, probably, by Coast Village Road and development potential. Interesting that he doesn't have the courage to list himself as a "developer" but has chosen the generic "businessman". As a "developer", exaggeration tending towards outright deception short of lies, is acceptable; as a businessman, a record of misstatements, untruths take a while to be heard, assimilated, especially when covered with all the grinning propaganda that campaign money can buy.

Hopefully, the District 4 voters who elected Kristen Sneddon 4-years-ago against the then onslaught of the SB Dem. Party, will show similar independence and not be swayed by Reed's $$$deluge of propaganda and look at Sneddon's last four years of thoughtful study and voting and independence.

GuestComments Sep 10, 2021 03:16 PM
Kristen vs Barrett, Round 1: A Lively and Contentious Clash Over Substance and Style

I was looking forward to this one. Expected to be wowed by both. Instead I found him to be contentious, ill-informed, and arrogant. She seemed genuine, prepared, and knowledgeable. He was on the attack from the get-go, coming at her pretty aggressively, so it's surprising he claims he'll be the one to end the clashes in council. With that temperament and approach? Yeah, right. I liked that she admitted she'd do some things differently in hindsight. She was self-reflective and thoughtful in her answers. And clearly she understands nuance and complexity which is important given the types of issues they handle. He made her decisions sound simple just to blast her, either not grasping the nuances involved or deliberately ignoring them to suit his purposes of throwing shade. Either way it doesn't make him look up to the task of being a level, considerate voice on council. It was pretty good stuff to see her school him more than once. And I disagree with the Room Rater. I thought hers was fine, but nothing great... maybe a 7 or 8, and his was tasteful but screamed privilege rather than having an everyman look, catering to a specific audience. I'd give it no more than a 7.

Minibeast Sep 10, 2021 03:18 PM
Kristen vs Barrett, Round 1: A Lively and Contentious Clash Over Substance and Style

After receiving porch visits and engaging in lengthy discussions with both candidates, my family and I are voting Sneddon, too. Barrett denies he is a developer. He is extremely personable. I like him. But . . . Sneddon and I are in accord regarding certain "small potatoes" issues in Santa Barbara. *************** Common sense tells me "The Homeless Problem" is not going to be resolved by any one Council member. I didn't even bring up that subject with Reed or Sneddon. Frankly, I don't envision any viable solution at this point in time not involving help from state government. And the fact that Barrett lambasted Kirsten re: the whole Rob Dayton craziness ("Santa Barbara alive with God") gave me a better perspective on who, to my mind, would serve Santa Barbara best: Sneddon.

SBTownie Sep 11, 2021 06:29 PM
Kristen vs Barrett, Round 1: A Lively and Contentious Clash Over Substance and Style

I agree with you that homelessness is practically a lost cause for any individual on the council. There are too many court and state rulings preventing us from doing anything real about homelessness. A lot of people don't want to admit it, but the motel program is the best we can do given all of the civil liberties limitations associated with trying to "fix" the homeless situation. This is why I support it. I hate the idea of spending so much tax payer money on these programs, but I see literally no other option so I think we need to commit to it for a while and see what we can accomplish. I think all of those constantly harping on how the council has "failed" at dealing with homelessness is not being honest about the legal limitations they face.

a-1631470261 Sep 12, 2021 11:11 AM
Kristen vs Barrett, Round 1: A Lively and Contentious Clash Over Substance and Style

Townie, you're right about this. Providing temp / transitional living is the right move. Putting as many people indoors and out of camps is required. Only then can you use enforcement, as we are required by court decisions to have a place for them to go FIRST. There are other things we can do, too, that don't cost quite as much.

Byzantium Sep 10, 2021 03:40 PM
Kristen vs Barrett, Round 1: A Lively and Contentious Clash Over Substance and Style

Democrats love labeling their opponents with one word. Barrett is a preservationist, if one looks at his track record. Sneddon is just one more compromised insider with the fiscal IQ of a snowy plover. Considering the energy Democrats are using against Barrett, this is reason enough to give him your vote. We know what Democrats are for - four more years of city dysfunctional status quo. That is reason enough to bring in a new team.

Bird Sep 11, 2021 08:05 AM
Kristen vs Barrett, Round 1: A Lively and Contentious Clash Over Substance and Style

"Preservationist"? lol - let's look at his votes on the planning commission to see if that's accurate. He's recused himself on at least one important Funk Zone vote because of a conflict, being connected with developments in that area. He lists being a member of the PC prominently in his bio but he has been there only since 2/25/2020 - and his term is up this December! It will be interesting to see if he reapplies as he runs for Council. (No reason he can't do so, apply for the PC if he thinks there's a reasonable chance he will lose the council race.)

allears Sep 11, 2021 05:57 PM
Kristen vs Barrett, Round 1: A Lively and Contentious Clash Over Substance and Style

Im not at all convinced that either one will get us where we need to be. I will hope for the best and for open minds and attitudes in the end - with other new attitudes and energy to council after the election.
From this first debate - I think Kristin Sneddon demonstrated herself to be more informed, up front, and the clearer thinker. I don't know what Barrett Reed's true motives are or how he would change things for the better. From my observations of them on council and PC- they both seem against and not to understand the complexities, changes to our processes, and open mindedness needed to achieve the development desperately needed for low and middle income housing. This development is essential not only for housing but to revitalize our community and to help the environment and by reducing commuter traffic. All can be done sensitively and in the Santa Barbara Style.
By the way - developers are not hell bent on destroying our way of life. Quite the opposite. The beautiful built environment we brag about to the world would not have happened without property owners, developers and their architects and engineers. These are the people who go through the hellish city process at great risk and expense to create the much needed housing we need for our middle and lower income families. I believe that they deserve thanks, respect, and appreciation.
Please go to watch the webinar put on by the Coastal Housing Coalition last Thursday. It is recorded and you can find it on their website. This was an excellent discussion where you can learn a great deal about the issues and what it takes to get anything developed in this town - especially affordable housing.

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