What Should Mayor Murillo’s Priorities Be?

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By Anna Marie Gott

It took 12 days after the devastating mudslides caused by the Thomas Fire to re-open HWY 101. Since it's closure on January 9th, we've discovered that the mudslides completely destroyed or heavily damaged hundreds of homes, approximately 10,000 residents were forced to evacuate, over 100 business were shuttered, tens of thousands could not get to work due to the closure, over 21 residents lost their lives, landlords began price gouging their neighbors in need and Cathy Murillo was installed as the Mayor of Santa Barbara.

While neighbors pitched in to help one another and shelters opened and closed, the Mayor was usually quiet and absent until the Woman's March on Saturday.

The most important job of any elected official is to mobilize agencies, departments and direct efforts to our community.  In times like these the very least they can do is to be present, to witness catastrophe, and to lend comfort and support to those affected. When the City needed her, she choose to attend an onsite training in Sacramento that could have been completed online.

The County of Santa Barbara, in cooperation with local state and federal emergency agencies, opened a Local Recovery and Assistance Center for victims of the Thomas Fire and January Storm tragedies. This assistance center serves as a single point resource hub for those who have been impacted by these back to back disasters. Representatives from federal, state, local and nonprofit agencies are on site to provide resources to victims of the mudslide, many of which are residents of the City. Yet, the only representation missing was the City of Santa Barbara. How is this possible?

We have no doubt that this disaster and the needs of our extended community would have been the sole preoccupation of any of our former Mayors just as it is the obsession of our County Supervisor. Yet the new Mayor who disappeared in the midst of the crisis and was not working to help displaced residents and merchants of Coast Village Road, which is in the city limits.

With the urgent issues facing the city today, it is disappointing and disheartening that the very first legislative policy that Mayor Murillo, and newly elected Councilmember Eric Friedman, are bringing to the new City Council, on February 6th, is to rehash and re-litigate committee seats. Why is that important? Councilmembers already were assigned their committee seats. These decisions were made during the first council meeting conducted by our newly elected mayor. Democratic votes were made and seats filled. This happened the very same sad day as the mudslides

During that meeting she INSISTED on being appointed to a specific committee, but majority of the Councilmembers voted against this. Rather than be graceful and accept the democratic process in place, she is currently trying to upend the system.

Is this the type of leadership we should expect from a mayor? Mayor Murillo coveted the committee seat and a democratic vote denied it to her. Now,  rather than helping the mudslide victims and the businesses affected by the Thomas Fire in any way the she can, Mayor Murillo is “hard at work” revisiting committee seat assignments made just weeks ago in a desperate effort to get what she wants.

What do you think Mayor Murillo’s priorities should be? Tell the City Council at: SBCityCouncil@SantaBarbaraCA.gov.


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