Avoiding a repeat of her cliffhanger election four years ago, incumbent Doreen Farr defeated challenger Steve Pappas Tuesday to retain her Third District seat on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.
With all precincts reporting, Farr had 54.9 percent of the vote, compared to 44.7 for Pappas, a Buellton businessman. Her margin of victory was 1,190 votes out of 12,579 cast.
Farr and her supporters packed around the bar at Holdren’s Grill in Goleta late Tuesday night to celebrate the win. Farr herself shed a few tears as she hugged campaign manager Michael Tamariz.
When asked about that emotion, Farr said she and her volunteers worked hard, and put in long hours, to connect with voters in the politically-diverse Third District.
“That’s what it takes,” she said. “It’s so diverse and that’s the challenge.”
Farr, who was seeking her second term of the board, beat Pappas by less than 900 votes in 2008, in an election that was marked by accusations of voter fraud by the challenger and protracted litigation, which Farr eventually won.
Farr is part of the board’s left-leaning majority, and has enjoyed considerable financial support from public-employee labor unions and other traditionally liberal and Democrat factions.
Pappas has received most of his financial support from rancher Nancy Crawford-Hall, owner and publisher of a weekly newspaper in the Santa Ynez Valley, who largely bankrolled his 2008 run and subsequent legal challenge.
The sprawling 3rd District stretches up the coast from UCSB to the San Luis Obispo County line. It includes the student-dominated community of Isla Vista, the Santa Ynez Valley, unincorporated areas of the Lompoc Valley, Los Alamos and the city of Guadalupe.
Split between the North County and the South Coast, the Third District historically has provided the swing vote on the five-member Board of Supervisors, and has been the focus of some epic election battles.
In the race for the First District seat, incumbent Salud Carbajal cruised to an easy victory, essentially without opposition. Montecito resident Carole Lieff filed to run against Carbajal, and her name was on Tuesday’s ballot, but she announced in early May that she was withdrawing from the race and moving out of the area.
With all precincts reporting, Carbajal had 75.9 percent of the vote, to 23.6 for Lieff.