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2009 Mayoral Q&A with Steve Cushman
NOOZHAWK: What experiences from your professional or personal life make you uniquely qualified to be mayor of Santa Barbara?
STEVE CUSHMAN: I have served on more than 90 local nonprofit boards and commissions. I helped raise more than $60 million for local nonprofit organizations. I have represented Santa Barbara for more than 20 years as president of the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce. I have served in the military, owned and operated my own businesses, raised a family, and given thousands of hours to community causes.
NOOZHAWK: With all of the city’s fiscal challenges, why are you running now?
SC: This is the perfect time to implement policy changes that will lead to financial stability for the future.
NOOZHAWK: What three steps would you take first to resolve Santa Barbara’s financial crisis?
SC: 1. Across the board salary reductions, with management taking the largest cut in pay (this will preclude layoffs).
2. Mandatory restoration of the General Fund Reserves, phased over five years.
3. Study and implementation of privatization of some city services.
NOOZHAWK: Public safety accounts for more than 50 percent of the city’s operating budget. With more spending cuts likely, how much would you trim from fire and police services?
SC: All employees should take a voluntary salary cut to avoid layoffs.
NOOZHAWK: Would you support increasing or adding new municipal taxes as a revenue source?
SC: No new taxes.
NOOZHAWK: Why do you support or oppose Measure B, the ballot measure that would restrict downtown building heights to 40 feet?
SC: Although I believe in a building height limit for Santa Barbara, I believe this initiative does not allow for the appropriate flexibility for our review committees.
NOOZHAWK: Do you feel the direction of the General Plan update is consistent with your vision? What kind of city will Santa Barbara be in 30 years?
SC: The General Plan update has certainly moved at the typical Santa Barbara pace ... it might not be done in 30 years. I anticipate that Santa Barbara will have a slightly smaller population. It will remain an international tourist destination. We will have created alternate energy sources for our power needs. Our public schools will be re-funded. The community will be connected electronically. It will be one of the finest places to live in the world.
NOOZHAWK: Santa Barbara’s General Plan update will have consequences for housing, transportation and other key issues in the region. Does the city have a responsibility to think regionally when it makes policy decisions? How would you rate the city’s record?
SC: The city has the responsibility to think regionally and has upheld that responsibility.
NOOZHAWK: If elected, what is the one issue on which you would focus to improve Santa Barbara’s quality of life?
SC: Public safety in the short term and water in the long term.
NOOZHAWK: What is Santa Barbara’s most neglected neighborhood?
SC: I do not believe that any neighborhood is neglected.
NOOZHAWK: How would you control aggressive panhandling?
SC: Aggressive panhandling is against the law. I would direct the city manager to have the police chief enforce the laws against this activity. Concurrently, I would work with the business community to create a public relations campaign designed to discourage citizens from giving money to panhandlers. If we don’t give to the panhandlers, they will leave.
NOOZHAWK: Santa Barbara has a plethora of medical-marijuana dispensaries, relative to other tri-county cities of similar size, but has yet to reject a single application. Why? Is that in the public’s interest?
SC: I believe that the city is struggling with contradictory state and federal law. The ordinance committee is reviewing the current ordinance and attempting to sort out a method for creating an ordinance that will serve our community interests. It is clear to me that we do not need 20 dispensaries.
NOOZHAWK: In the last year, two catastrophic wildfires have devastated foothill neighborhoods. Are stricter building codes needed or should development even be restricted in brush areas?
SC: Stricter enforcement of brush clearing on hillsides surrounding homes.
NOOZHAWK: A grocery clerk asks you, “Paper or plastic?” You say:
SC: I brought my own bag. How about a nickel?
NOOZHAWK: When’s the last time you rode public transportation?
SC: Last month.
NOOZHAWK: What Santa Barbara historical figure do you admire most, and why?
SC: Paul Mills, former director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. He brought beauty and culture to all of our lives.
NOOZHAWK: What is Santa Barbara’s most precious asset?
SC: Our kids.
NOOZHAWK: What’s your favorite street?
NOOZHAWK: Health care is all over the news these days. What do you do to stay fit?
SC: I work out at the Santa Barbara Athletic Club each morning ... early.
NOOZHAWK: Gaveling a City Council meeting to order or to adjournment is boring. Would you use a hawk scream, sponsored by Noozhawk, instead?
SC: After this long questionnaire, I want to let out that scream now.
Click here for Steve Cushman’s campaign Web site
Click here for Noozhawk’s candidate interview
Larry Nimmer’s “Touring with the Candidates” video (www.nimmer.net)
Click here for SBCityVote.org’s candidate statement video
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