Goleta’s newest councilman is no stranger to City Hall, but he’s used to being at the podium — not on the dais.
It took several votes of the four other members to pick him, but they’ve all been very welcoming, Vallejo said.
“It was a whirlwind," he said. "They swore me in, I took my seat and then it was onto Agenda Item 2.”
Vallejo grew up in Carpinteria, where many of his family members still live, attended UCSB and has lived in the Goleta Valley ever since.
“I’m a guy who has raised his family here, has a son at Dos Pueblos High School as we speak, and just really loves Goleta,” he said. “I really love the small-town feel and want to see what we can do to keep it that way — a nice, safe city where you feel like you know your neighbors. I just love it here.”
He’s well-known for being on the board of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, but was a member of several nonprofit boards before that, including the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, the Mental Health Association in Santa Barbara County, now the Mental Wellness Center, and Dos Pueblos Little League.
“When you’re a CPA and say yes to one board, you’d be amazed at how popular you are,” he said with a laugh.
At 44, Vallejo is younger than most of the council members and thinks he can bring a different opinion to discussions about the city’s future.
“I still have kids in the house, I’m still working,” he said. Goleta’s successes “made my decision to throw my name in the ring a lot easier — it’s always easy to join a winning team, and the Goleta City Council and city itself is a winning team right now.
“We’re doing really well right now, and it’s my job to make sure we keep doing that.”
He knows many of the council members well — he was treasurer for Councilman Roger Aceves’ campaign for county supervisor — but promises to be an independent mind.
“Even when you don’t agree with the rest, they’re there for the right reasons,” he said. “They’re not in it for the pay or the glory; there’s not a whole lot of that. It’s mostly because you love your city and you want to help.”
He’s already recognized in the business community as former chairman of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce and treasurer for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He’ll be stepping down from those boards to avoid any conflict, since the city contracts with the Goleta chamber, and will also step down from the board of the Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet, which supports science and technology start-up businesses.
That one is especially bittersweet, he said, since it’s really taking off.
“You see these young adults come up with brilliant ideas and the ambition to make it happen, and whatever we can do to help them is awesome,” Vallejo said.
As he said in his interview with the council, Vallejo believes the city needs to rework or eliminate its revenue neutrality agreement with the county, look at creating good jobs and housing, and keep following the General Plan.
He’s been a conduit between the business community and the city government before but will be a source for everyone now. He said people are already coming up to him to ask about development projects and city decisions.
Starting now, he’ll be a representative on the council’s finance committee, ordinance committee and Town and Gown committee that coordinates with UCSB.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity and hope anyone feels free to stop me when they see me and tell me what they think,” he said.
One of his first big decisions — along with the rest of the council — will be to hire a new city manager to replace Dan Singer, who left the city last month.
Vallejo lives in Goleta with his wife, Sandra, and 16-year-old son, Thomas. His 22-year-old daughter, Marissa, also lives in town.
He can be reached at his city email address, [email protected].