Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed title=
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed
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Meagan Harmon and Oscar Gutierrez (Photos: City of Santa Barbara)

By edhat staff

Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers have maintained their seats without facing an election.

Meagan Harmon and Oscar Gutierrez were running unopposed in their respective districts as the August 9 deadline passed without competitors.

Councilmembers chose to hold a special meeting Wednesday to appoint Harmon and Gutierrez to their seats instead of spending $106,000 to add them to the ballot.

After a lawsuit in 2015, the City of Santa Barbara was required to change its at-large election process to districts. The ultimate goal was to encourage more candidates to run for office and have those candidates accurately represent the areas in which they live.

Harmon represents District 6 serving the downtown area while Gutierrez represents District 3 on the Westside.

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ChillinGrillin Aug 24, 2019 03:05 PM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

So now it's too expensive to hold elections but it's fine to hire expensive consultants to state the obvious? The Council and mayor have been so incompetent and disappointing. Their style is the usual for incompetent politicians: have more meetings, create more committees, and completely ignore the serious issues they face.

RHS Aug 24, 2019 10:04 AM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

Independently of my opinion of these candidates I think the city council did a huge disservice to democracy and open government by acting this way. The names should be on a ballot in the district if for no other reason than to let those voters know who is going to be their rep and when the election was held. If someone wanted to run as a write in such an effort is now blocked. Remember Bruce Rittenhouse's quixotic and near successful effort. The claim that this was a money saving issue is silly in light of the bucks being spent on consultants for brochure design at public works and such. And, really, how could it cost anywhere near the amount they claim to process a few thousand ballots with one additional race on their tally? This is proof of the adage about statistics and lies.

Thomas John Aug 23, 2019 08:18 PM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

Everyone acts like the city of Santa Barbara is run by professionals. We have plus-minus 100,000 people of which over 20 percent live in poverty. Who knows how many are broke. And you expect a world-class City Counsel? We're a small town, bush league. Quit expecting diamonds.

a-1569316715 Aug 23, 2019 11:37 AM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

It's hard to get worked up about this outcome when it could have been easily avoided by ANYONE opposing these incumbents. You don't even need to campaign...just get your name on the ballot.

a-1569316715 Aug 23, 2019 11:30 AM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

It’s difficult for me to get worked up about this, since I haven’t had any respect for or confidence in our City Council post Mayor Harriet Miller.

Factotum Aug 23, 2019 10:42 AM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

The swamp exists only with our consent. Either by voting or not voting. We create it and allow it to continue. But its control now runs so deep, no one dare oppose it. We have watched the local non-partisan political scene become littered with the bodies of those who have dared to take it on. And even from within the one sole dominant party - expect an internecine food fight between Das Williams and Laura Capps, unless the fix is already in.

Factotum Aug 23, 2019 09:38 AM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

Elected officials gain legitimacy only through open and fair elections. This city council endorsed coronation is egregious. Harmon was not even appointed by anyone from the district she now serves. She was benighted by those outside her district. Claiming "cost-savings" is even worse. Job number on and top of the city budget is funding open, fair and accurate public elections. Never cut out write-in votes. A lot can happen to these candidates between now and November that can cause buyer's remorse. The Democrat Mean Machine scaring away opposition candidates even from running for public office scores another notch in its belt. This city moves now deeper into its self-inflicted political crisis.

SantaBarbaraObserver Aug 23, 2019 09:32 AM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

Obscene and frankly sad that there were not any candidates running to balance the city's council. Not even a single soul! The shift to district elections was one of the worst moves this city has ever made. Thank the shyster Barry Capello for stealing $500k from our city while pushing a minority rule onto the people... So now we have a worthless, utterly inept mayor elected by a tiny fraction of the population and 2 council members who were not even elected... Might as well just hand over the city to the public unions and the national Democratic party rulers. No wonder our city is falling apart and headed towards the inevitable, insolvency.

a-1569316715 Aug 23, 2019 02:35 PM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

I agree with you: we were warned, but few paid any attention. The lawsuit was settled because it was thought to cost less than going to trial ...and losing, as happened in Palmdale. But, the thing is, there never was an analysis that showed Santa Barbara was racially polarized, in fact. The council folded -- and gave us what we got: two incompetent councilmembers, 1 so polarized for Dem continuing support for her next election..., as to be nearly incompetent; another, who knows that the mayor butters his bread; one who's independent but clearly longs to be in Sacramento - but whose electoral opponent is a Murillo clone; and the loss of an independent voice, with a Murillo-supportee likely for the 2nd district; and one truly independent and lone voice. But the district lines will have to be redrawn with the next census so there's a slight bit of hope.

a-1569316715 Aug 23, 2019 02:59 PM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

Sadly, Goleta is following the same path: https://www.noozhawk.com/article/goleta_public_engagement_committee_plans_for_district_elections. They can't say they weren't warned by SB's example. The same Jacqui Inda was so active in gutting SB's electoral system has been active in Goleta (and Lompoc, too). The state law allows payment of fees, including attorney fees, which is why Capello took it on in SB....

a-1569316715 Aug 23, 2019 02:35 PM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

I agree with you: we were warned, but few paid any attention. The lawsuit was settled because it was thought to cost less than going to trial ...and losing, as happened in Palmdale. But, the thing is, there never was an analysis that showed Santa Barbara was racially polarized, in fact. The council folded -- and gave us what we got: two incompetent councilmembers, 1 so polarized for Dem continuing support for her next election..., as to be nearly incompetent; another, who knows that the mayor butters his bread; one who's independent but clearly longs to be in Sacramento - but whose electoral opponent is a Murillo clone; and the loss of an independent voice, with a Murillo-supportee likely for the 2nd district; and one truly independent and lone voice. But the district lines will have to be redrawn with the next census so there's a slight bit of hope.

Factotum Aug 23, 2019 12:47 PM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

There were complaints from district election agitators the concentrated voters in the former "Golden Triangle" got all the city's attention and disproportionate funding, since they also consistently produced the highest voter turn outs. This however was another false notion since public safety is the biggest city expenditure and most of that money gets spent ironically in these newly created "minority-majority" downtown districts. The "Golden Triangle" reduced now to a single vote on city council is left to languish again with its crumbling infrastructure, blight and increasing transient crime. Unfounded resentments prove they never produce good policy. Now everyone in town suffers; except for one privileged group who was already getting the lion's share of the city budget: the city employee unions who are in total control who sits on city council in perpetuity. City voters, the California Voting Rights Act worked against you ---- just as intended. You lost this city and you lost t his state by inches, under the cover of darkness.

SantaBarbaraObserver Aug 23, 2019 11:19 AM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

I believe the impetus for the suit and the subsequent change in representation was due to the ill conceived notion that there was discrimination against the Latino community on the council and in the city's various departments. It was represented as a way to allow (force) minority representation in city government. A false notion to begin with as the city and its staff are made up of a sizeable percentage of Spanish surname people (so-called Latinos). But like most things, the truth was more about making a quick and easy $500k for the law firm than it was about creating a level paying field. As this particular situation showcases, there was not a single Latino from these districts / neighborhoods that put themselves up for election! Not one. So the incumbent is gifted another term.... In this case we have one councilmember who was voted into office by their constituents and one who was appointed by the city council having never received a single vote from the public. This whole thing stinks more than the bird refuge on a hot summer day during low tide.

Factotum Aug 23, 2019 10:38 AM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

Our state legislators Hannah-Beth Jackson and Das Williams/Monique Limon are responsible for the impacts of the CVRA - California Voting Rights Act which set up this usurpation of one person/one vote principle and allowed the growth of special-interest districts that allow only a few people to choose an entire vote on our city council. Equal districts of approx 20,000 each were created by head count; not by registered voter count or legal US status. Two of them were mandated by the CVRA to be comprised of "protected" minorities, but only as set out in the statute. Any other "minority" was not offered similar protections. The fault for this current local travesty belongs to our state legislators - they are the ones to blame and the voters who keep renewing their failed tenures. Pay attention to the 2020 census when this "redistricting" farce comes into play again - lines can still be drawn that can drawn for political effect, even when reform was the goal of the CVRA.

Factotum Aug 23, 2019 09:41 AM
Two Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Confirmed

Those pushing district elections knew this exactly would be the outcome - much easier for special interests to control both outcome and candidate in historically low voter, low voter interest districts. We were warned; but told just the opposite. Districts elections did not increase voter participation. Just the opposite - now a permanent majority of city council members belong to a city hall insider elite. Elected by a very tiny number of city voters; or in this case not even elected at all.

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