Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

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By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

For the first time in the 2021 race, the six candidates for mayor of Santa Barbara appeared in the same campaign forum on Friday, in what one contender termed the "political equivalent of speed dating."

You can watch the event, featuring Mayor Cathy Murillo and the five challengers to her re-election responding to questions about politics and policy, via YouTube below or by clicking through this link (the audio version is here),

The fast-paced affair, co-sponsored by Newsmakers, the "Santa Barbara Talks" podcast and TV Santa Barbara, offers voters the chance for an extended first impression of the rivals, while considering, comparing and contrasting their top-line ideas on topics critical to our future: the state of the city; homelessness; economic development and State Street; housing; equity; and governance, amid the recent turmoil and turnover at City Hall.

The candidates were beamed via Zoom into TVSB's studio, where co-moderators Jerry Roberts and Josh Molina channeled their inner air traffic controller skills while posing several dozen questions, with the candidates providing less-is-more, one minute answers, before each delivered a two-minute closing statement.

Besides Murillo, small business owner James Joyce III, small businessman Matt Kilrain, downtown business owner Randy Rowse, city Planning Commissioner Deborah Schwartz and Publisher Mark Whitehurst joined the encounter.

So: 78 minutes, six candidates, two moderators, six topics, 36 camera switches between candidates and zero technical mishaps from the control room, ably managed by director J.P Montalvo, assistant director Ellie Stayner and Hap Freund, our producer.

No word yet on a partridge in the pear tree.

We'll be back later in the week with observations, analysis and context about the kickoff event for the final nine weeks of the campaign, but for now, invite you to review it unencumbered by our perspective and commentary. For a follow-up story, please email us your comments, insights and impressions: newsmakerswithjr@gmail.com.

Don't forget to vote.

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Bird Aug 30, 2021 01:07 PM
Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

Byzantium, this I look for: Knowledgeable of all aspects of City governance, that is, more than just casually familiar with all municipal departments; genuinely caring for the City as a whole, the nuts and bolts of governance but equally important the residents, housed and unhoused; respectful, able to communicate without an air of superiority; a long-term participant in the life of the City, whether as a member of one of the various citizen commissions or a participant in one of the active non-profits; an understanding of urban finances. I can probably think of more but these seem to me to be basic.

Byzantium Aug 31, 2021 03:54 PM
Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

Fiesta celebrates the ranchero days of this area. How is that "racist". It refers to a historical period of time - cattle ranches, round-ups and cowboys. Pretty much and open opportunity for anyone who wanted a rough life on the range and hard work. And an open celebration when the season was done.

Byzantium Aug 30, 2021 01:39 PM
Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

You have a good list Bird - and you also have several candidates who have chosen to participate in this race that should meet many of your criteria. It is not easy running for office. Even less to govern. Waiting for the partridge may pass up several pipers piping and a few maidens dancing, who have chosen to take on this arduous public task. Agree about the importance of fiscal literacy, plus knowing what it is like to sign the front of a check; not just the back of one. I have long felt voters need to define what they want first and then support the candidate who best meets their own criteria; instead of demanding the candidate competes for their vote by issuing meaningless campaign promises that quickly get forgotten or buried in the realities of the office itself.

Voice of Reason Aug 31, 2021 11:57 AM
Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

I'm pretty sure in the one of the last interviews with Randy posted here on EdHat he said he used to register as a Democrat before dropping is party affiliation as he was disgusted by partisan politics (amen to that!). But by all means keep voting blue no matter who, it's worked great for us so far...

Voice of Reason Aug 31, 2021 11:58 AM
Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

ON PARTISANSHIP AND PRAGMATISM AT CITY HALL
"When I first got on council, I was along with Frank Hotchkiss, Michael Self and Dale Francisco… And there was a lot of push from the parties to go a certain way or another.

"And I always was kind of insulted by that because I thought the political parties have business outside of the city. They have agendas outside of the city. They have purposes that are self-driving. And I always thought it was damaging to city business from either side of the coin.

"Particularly now it's so dominantly Democrat that you get things that come up and all of a sudden we're talking about Medicare for All as an agenda item, I went, well, 'that's a great item to talk about in some circles, city councils is not one of those circles…'

https://www.edhat.com/news/randy-rowse-city-hall-afflicted-by-ideology-partisanship-sb-needs-different-direction

a-1630437086 Aug 31, 2021 12:11 PM
Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

Randy is registered decline-to-state. His registration is not what bothers me. It's his small-minded provincial attitude. When the Council was debating eviction moratoriums for both residents and businesses, his position was we shouldn't get between a private transaction between a landlord and a tenant. That was incredibly short-sighted. Interestingly, even without Randy on Council the ONE landlord that gave ZERO rent breaks to commercial tenants in the Pandemic was....the City of Santa Barbara.

Voice of Reason Aug 31, 2021 12:54 PM
Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

The government has no business getting involved in existing private contracts between individuals so he was right on that one. I do completely agree how out of touch and hypocritical City Council was imploring, then demanding, then forcing landlords to provide rent breaks while at the same time refusing to do so themselves. Not surprising though, just as the state felt weed tax revenue was "essential", the city felt their rental revenue was "essential", the common citizen was the only group our local and state governments determined income was not "essential".

Basicinfo805 Aug 30, 2021 07:54 PM
Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

Murillo: “ luckily our libraries are back open…”. Great, I’ll go take my 4th grader down there to try and check out a book if we can wade through your homeless residents living in and around the building we taxpayers fund. Don’t even get me started Cathy.

a-1630381784 Aug 30, 2021 08:49 PM
Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

I found it interesting how Cathy claimed credit for things as leadership that were caused by incompetence and inadequacy - hers:
1. Civilian Oversight System- a demand of Black Lives Matter to rectify problems of unjust policing in communities of color.
2. State St promenade - because the state's Alcohol Board of Control allowed licensees to expand their serving area outdoors to allow social distancing...which required going into sidewalks and streets to stay open. I think Paul Casey made most of that happen.
3. "Built a more equitable Santa Barbara." Uhhhh...is there a shred of evidence of that?
4. Helped bring more affordable housing downtown. WHERE? Not the Mark. Not the development at the Public Market. Allowing VRBO / Airbnb took older existing affordable housing stock off the market, and made more homeless.
5. Helped small businesses recover - any business that got city help, chime in here. Paycheck Protection Act was from the federal Small Business Administration.
6. City is a national leader to fight climate change. Hmmmm. *Scratches head. Did Santa Barbara lead the dialogue at the World Economic Forum at Davos? Sign the Paris accord? Hmmm.

SantaBarbaraObserver Aug 31, 2021 07:45 AM
Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

I agree with this post. Cathy has been a failure. The figures do not lie. Our city is failing. Cathy, please go away. You really are not very good at this leadership stuff. Can you just go back to being a elementary school theater teacher? In many ways that was the same job. Pretending you're in charge while wrangling spoiled children and putting on a 2 bit show once every few months... - - - - - - - - - - - - ----------------------------------------- - - - - - - - - - - - - - How a woman with zero executive experience, zero leadership experience, zero personality became mayor is the real problem. She was never equipped for the job. So how does such a person end up in leadership roles? Follow the money and you'll find the real reasons. (hint) The real reason is the powers-that-be prefer a "useful idiot" at the helm.

Ahchooo Aug 30, 2021 09:34 PM
Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

Thanks, Jerry and Josh, and thanks, Edhat for posting this. I was glad to see how the candidates conducted themselves, and hear what they had to say. James Joyce III is appealing, and if he doesn’t win this race, I hope he sticks around and helps the city some other way.

Greemo Aug 31, 2021 08:32 AM
Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

In forums like this I try to listen to whether or not the candidates are actually answering the questions in a substantive manner, and whether I come away with a satisfactory impression of how the will achieve their stated goals. I found that Randy and Deborah did that consistently. James and Mark have some good ideas, but they spoke largely in platitudes. I get the sense that they will need a lot of on-the-job training, and the bureaucrats at City Hall will play circles around them. Cathy we can-and should evaluate on her performance. I hope a lot of people vote in this election, and they make an effort to leave ideology aside and look at the issues.

SBTownie Aug 31, 2021 11:28 AM
Six Degrees of Disputation: SB's Half-Dozen Candidates for Mayor Square Off

This debate was really helpful for me as a voter and I am grateful to the producers (and participants, which for once included Cathy) for putting this on. It helped me clarify who I want to vote for and I have now made up my mind, assuming not much changes between now and November. As a side note, if you're reading: Jerry Roberts, you can do a lot better with making your content visible on YouTube to more people by adding appropriate titles, such as crucial keywords like "Santa Barbara" and "2021" - so far only 459 full views of the video and I think it would be in voters' interest to get this seen by a lot more people. Properly labeling content on major websites like Google will help people find it, and amplify SEO which means anyone Googling the mayoral race could theoretically then be led to the video.

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