Ever since the closely fought Wallace-Chamberlin race in 1992, the 3rd District has been very evenly divided. This divisiveness has not been good for county government or appreciated by the voters of the 3rd District. In fact, incumbent Brooks Firestone ran as a uniter. Unfortunately, Firestone turned out to be a divider. The voters’ displeasure in his perceived failure to act even-handedly was reflected by the third-place showing of Firestone’s handpicked candidate, David Smyzer, in this year’s 3rd District primary.

There are many reasons to support Steve Pappas for 3rd District supervisor, not the least of which is that he is a true independent (he is registered as “decline to state”). He will make decisions on what is best for all of us in Santa Barbara County, not what is best for North County or South County, or the Republicans or the Democrats. An added bonus is that of the two candidates for this office, he has the most experience in elected office (six years) and has the most business experience. 

We are all Santa Barbara County residents. Pappas being an independent allows him to act in the best interest of the county without hewing to any particular party line. The vast majority in the 3rd District want to see open space preserved. They want agriculture zoned lands to remain ag zoned. They want agriculture to prosper and want what development does occur to occur in urban settings supported by adequate infrastructure. So does Pappas. He is not tied to special interests. As our supervisor, Pappas will be the more effective in representing the whole of the county and the 3rd District. 

Santa Barbarans want a county that supports business while requiring these businesses to act responsibly, not leak oil over pristine land, tear up scenic freeways or bully politicians with plans for building mega resorts. Pappas’ work in fighting development in the Santa Ynez Valley, his experience in public office and business acumen give him the tools to effectively protect the environment without creating a hostile business environment. Pappas will implement safeguards that both protect the beauty of Santa Barbara’s unique natural gifts while not unduly hamstring business.

Pappas has stood up to developers. He worked creatively to prevent a 15-acre farm in Los Olivos from being turned into 150 condos. He has tried to work with the Chumash to hold them accountable for the environmental effects of their development and to require them to act at least as responsibly as a normal developer.

We need someone who has the savvy and experience right now to use every avenue to fight the Naples development and development on the Bishop Ranch. Pappas is that person.

A person with the business experience of Pappas has a much better chance of working out a transfer of development rights arrangement than the relatively inexperienced Doreen Farr. Her own supporters, in their campaign material, have characterized her as a nice lady who is a hard worker and is willing to learn. That is all well and good, but we should demand a candidate with a solid track record of experience and results in work, community activism and public office.

Of the five candidates who ran in the primary, there was no argument that Farr had the least elective office experience, whereas Victoria Pointer and myself had the most, followed by Pappas. Pappas can hit the ground running. He is in a unique position to represent the best interests of both the Santa Ynez Valley and the Goleta Valley. Independents said we need someone who can communicate with the ranchers. Pappas has strong backing from this element of the electorate.

While Farr has some impressive endorsements, it is not they who will be serving us as supervisor. Let’s look at Farr’s track record. According to her campaign material, she served on the Planning Commission for 2½ years, was active in PANA and before that got a stop sign put up. That’s about it, folks. Just because an ad shows her standing next to Rep. Lois Capps, no one is confused that Farr is Capps.

Goleta decision

The policy decisions Farr made as a community activist are cause for concern about her judgment. Farr has made some poor public policy decisions and has yet to publicly acknowledge these errors in judgment. She supported the city of a third of Goleta even though the county’s fiscal analysis and the LAFCO required independent fiscal analysis of this truncated city of Goleta pointed to a high potential for a financially marginal city. Farr still insists she made the right decision.

Revenue neutrality agreement

When asked about the revenue neutrality agreement, Farr has consistently said she had no hand in developing what has been deemed the worst RNA in the state. Somehow she thinks that excuses her support of the city of Goleta at the time of its formation. The fiscal underpinnings of a city are one of the most important aspects to consider in forming a new city. Goleta’s political leaders are now clamoring for a dramatic revision of that RNA. In my mind, Farr should have been aware of the fiscal implications of the RNA before throwing her support to the boundaries of the current city of Goleta.

Isla Vista governance

Her position on Isla Vista governance is hard to comprehend. Her supervisorial campaign literature says she supports some vague sort of self-government for Isla Vista. What does she mean by that? Most analysts believe that a freestanding city of Isla Vista would be even less financially viable than the present abbreviated city of Goleta. 

When there was a real chance to give Isla Vista self-government and have it be a part of Goleta, Farr opposed IV’s inclusion in the city This is even though the independent fiscal analysis showed a city of Goleta including Isla Vista would have had $14 million more in surplus at the end of 10 years than a city with the boundaries approved by LAFCO. And this is not counting the $25 million Goleta West bank account, plus the $1.5 million per year in ad valorem property tax which goes to the Goleta West Sanitary District. The city of Goleta would have gained these assets if the Goleta Now proponents had included Isla Vista within their boundry. This would have allowed this larger city to absorb the functions of the sanitary district and dissolve the Goleta West Sanitary District.

The environment

Farr and many of her supporters made a flawed fiscal, political and environmental decision in choosing the current boundaries for what is now the city of Goleta. The Goleta Now organization correctly reasoned that support for their new city would go down in Goleta if they included Isla Vista. What they did not calculate was that the overwhelming support out of Isla Vista would have led to an even larger favorable vote than the city received. More importantly, this larger city of Goleta would have been more financially viable and have been more environmentally conscious than what we got. We would not be facing the prospect of 900, 1,200, 3,000 — who knows how many — new houses on the Bishop Ranch and the rezoning of other ag lands within Goleta.

Pappas, Pointer and I represent the emerging less partisan trend in government. We must move away from confrontation between Republicans on the right and Democrats on the left and look to leadership in the middle, a leader who has the best interests of the people at heart, rather than the interests of one political party or another. If that’s what you want, Pappas is your man.

I support Pappas for 3rd District Supervisor. I urge district voters to study the two candidates. After doing so, most of you will join me in going to the polls to vote for Pappas for 3rd District supervisor.

David Bearman, M.D.
Goleta West Sanitary District president, former candidate for 3rd District supervisor