Declaring public safety and jobs among top issues facing Santa Maria, Etta Waterfield announced her bid for City Council on Tuesday afternoon.
Waterfield, a Santa Maria planning commissioner for 10 years, also serves as executive director of the Santa Maria Police Council, which has raised funds for training and equipment for the Santa Maria Police Department.
“Public safety will be one of my number one priorities,” she said.
Public safety also is critical for another of Waterfield’s top priorities — attracting firms that offer high-paying jobs. Companies looking to relocate to a community consider public safety, she noted.
Waterfield worked to bring jobs to the area during seven years with the Santa Maria Valley Economic Development Association, and later while performing similar duties under the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“I will work tirelessly to bring good-paying jobs to this community,” she said. “I will use that experience to not only help bring companies to Santa Maria, but also to streamline that process that will allow them to gracefully come into this community and set up.”
The city has available land and other necessities for businesses looking to relocate, she said.
“I want Santa Maria to once again be that number one hub on the Central Coast that we once were," she said. "I know we can do it.”
In her role on the Planning Commission, Waterfield voted earlier this year with the majority to approve the permit for the Immigration & Custom Enforcement facility’s construction in Santa Maria. She said she made her decision based on the law.
This isn’t Waterfield’s first bid for City Council. In 2012, she lost by two votes.
She applied to be appointed to the council, but a divided panel ultimately named Willie Green to fill the vacancy created by Alice Patino’s election to mayor.
The announcement Tuesday comes a more than a month before the July 14 opening of the nomination period for the City Council race. Two four-year terms, currently filled by Councilmen Jack Boysen and Willie Green, are set to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. Both men reportedly intend to file.
Among those who attended the announcement were Patino, 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, his father and former Santa Maria mayor Larry Lavagnino, former mayor and county supervisor Joe Centeno and others.
Those standing around Waterfield broke out in applause and cheers once she announced her candidacy.
“I think Etta brings exactly what the city needs right now, and that is somebody with experience creating jobs,” Steve Lavagnino said, noting Waterfield’s economic development work.
Lavagnino said he also supports two additional candidates expected to run this fall — Boysen and newcomer Amy Lopez, who works for Santa Barbara County and serves on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Maria Valley.
Lavagnino has worked with all three and believes each would bring a great perspective to the council.
Waterfield, who describes herself as “an American with Mexican heritage,” moved to Santa Maria from Arizona in 1985. She noted that Santa Maria has since become the largest city in Santa Barbara County.
“I just love my city,” she said. “This is something that I feel is the right thing to do, and I’ve felt it for a quite awhile. Even going through the last City Council election and those different issues that we had, it hasn’t deterred my mind in what is good for Santa Maria.
"It’s not about me, it’s about Santa Maria and helping to make this community a stronger, better environment to provide for families to be able to live here.”