Six candidates have already expressed interest in running for the three Santa Barbara City Council seats available in the Nov. 5 election, but there are no challengers yet to Mayor Helene Schneider’s re-election bid.
The official filing period doesn’t even open until July 15, but several candidates have already turned in to the City Clerk’s Office the candidate intention statements that signify they plan to start fundraising for their campaigns.
Schneider, who has served on the council since 2004, is thus far running unopposed.
Megan Diaz Alley, Mike Jordan and Jason Nelson have also filed candidate intention forms, and former Councilman Gregg Hart has openly expressed his intent to run in the media, although he hadn’t filed any paperwork to that effect as of Friday.
Alley works as the development and public relations coordinator for Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International and previously worked at TVSB — formerly the Santa Barbara Channels — and the Community Environmental Council. She is also serving on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission.
She said she wants to be a voice for a younger generation and inspire other people to get involved in local government, particularly those in her mostly Spanish-speaking Eastside neighborhood.
The city may not be able to do a lot in terms of capital improvements right now, but the neighborhood improvements mean a lot and show the community that the city cares, she said.
Alley wants to focus on vibrant neighborhoods, safe transportation, youth engagement and community connections. She also wants the city to refocus its efforts on being an environmental leader.
“We have to consider what draws people here,” she said.
Jordan is an account executive with Hub International Insurance Services and serves on the city’s Planning Commission, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and other boards and commissions.
He said he will support a healthy business climate and wants a clean, safe city that is fiscally responsible and responsive to residents.
“And I’ll support politics that support us for the future, but still respect our small-town character and cultural past, while improving our environmental stewardship,” he said.
“I’m a registered Independent who finds things to like and dislike with typical partisan stances,” he said. “I’m interested in good ideas, regardless of the source, that will lead to positive improvements that protect and improve our community.”
Nelson is is an Army civil affairs unit and worked as the campaign manager for unsuccessful 2009 mayoral candidate Steve Cushman before his deployment to Afghanistan. He has written columns for the Santa Barbara News-Press during and after his deployment and recently has been outspoken against the proposed city sales tax increase.
He has also worked as a producer for KZSB-1290 AM since 2008.
Hart has been the government affairs and public information coordinator for the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments since 2004 and served on the Santa Barbara city council from 1996 to 2004. He did not return Noozhawk’s requests for comment.
Hotchkiss and White were both elected in 2009 and want to continue their work with second terms.
Hotchkiss, a Realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty, said the City Council must continue with a balanced budget and “not start spending when we should save.”
He said the current council has done many things right.
“We’ve kept density down in the city, we’ve brought more business to the city with cruise ships in particular, and we’ve got more police on the force in the form of beat officers,” he said.
There are still areas to improve, and he wants to be involved in doing so, he said.
“We haven’t done a great job in solving the transient problem, and I would like to return to council and try to improve it,” he said. “And there’s no question that we haven’t dealt successfully with the matter of gangs and young people who are mistakenly diverted into that lifestyle.”
White served on the county and city planning commissions before being elected to the council and said he believes his experience will continue to be valuable at City Hall.
“I feel like I’ve learned a great deal about how the city operates and our problems and opportunities,” he said, “and I want to help continue to steer this wonderful little city in a safe and constructive direction for the next few years.
“Frankly, I think it will be many years before we get a handle on elements such as pension and infrastructure issues. Those discussions are ongoing but really are a big concern; they come as much out of our state and national problems as it is local pieces.”