NOOZHAWK: What experiences from your professional or personal life make you uniquely qualified to be a Santa Barbara City Council member?

CRUZITO CRUZ: I am born and raised in Santa Barbara. My educational background — at SBCC an AA in business administration, at UCSB a BA in political science (emphasis in public administration) and a BA in Chicana and Chicano Studies and some Santa Barbara College of Law jurisprudence education — has allowed me to positively contribute to the fabric and strengthening of our community. My education has allowed me to be of service in the local nonprofit organizations (La Casa de La Raza, Family Service Agency, Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse (CADA)-Fighting Back Mentor program, Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County’s Los Compadres program and La Comunidad) and has given me the insight and working experience to be of service toward many families and youth.

My five years of work at H&R Block has given me the financial perspectives and insight of the local economy and how many families and individual taxpayers need a public representative like me. This overall work-education experience has prepared me to apply the two decades of social service work in Santa Barbara with the analytical, intellectual and financial skills to be a public servant and public steward of the city’s resources and to work diligently for the public good. My understanding of legalities and my pre-election victory on Sept. 2 before county Superior Court Judge J. William McLafferty is a direct example of the tenacity and work ethic to be a public servant that is a bridge to the Latino-Mexicano community of Santa Barbara. However, since our city has at-large public office representation, this would mean I would represent the wishes and concerns of all Santa Barbarans as your next council member. My politics and beliefs rest with “equalitarianism.” This is what is unique about Cruzito Herrera Cruz as your next council member.

NOOZHAWK: With all of the city’s fiscal challenges, why are you running now?

CC: Cruzito Herrera Cruz attempted to qualify his name in 2007 with 169 nomination petition signers but was disqualified for having insufficient number of signers under City Charter Ordinance Section §1304. In 2009, I submitted 280 nomination petition signers and was disqualified again because this time I turned in too many signatures. However, my understanding of the election law prevented me from surrendering and giving up from entering electoral politics in the midst of the city’s fiscal challenges. My bookkeeping experience and tax preparation work has given me financial insight to developing a plan of financial oversight that considers the totality of the assets, liabilities, business independent contracts, and investment portfolio the city manages and maintains. The city will have to trim expenditures, correct the unnecessary capital projects that have been unreasonably spent, and look into the financial solvency to develop and implement innovative economic initiatives that will foster more revenues for the city. (Propose bar and drink tax, propose bed and hotel tax, and propose the tax on medical marijuana businesses under the auspices of Proposition 215) Revitalization of the local economy will be sought through the state and federal funds for new infrastructure improvements, thus giving the local economy a boost in workforce needed to provide new infrastructure initiatives. Nevertheless, the economic downturn is a local, state and national financial problem, but this is a full opportunity to think outside the traditional financial-revitalization box and develop policies to empower and have an optimistic outlook to the health of our local economy. Our city’s reserve funds shall be one of my top priorities to confront and responded immediately.

NOOZHAWK: What three steps would you take first to resolve Santa Barbara’s financial crisis?

CC: 1. As a financial manager of the city’s finances, I shall conduct an “in-depth financial audit” of the last 10 years to gain understanding of the trends of revenues coming in and the expenditures going out. This will give me the insight to financially comprehend how we have arrived at this financial crisis to make the necessary monetary steps required to correct the challenges our municipal jurisdiction faces.
2. Develop and implement an economic revitalization program by proposing and seeking state and federal funds, grants and capital improvements projects that will attract more business opportunities, business contracts with our local entrepreneurs, and provide the financial resources for services for Santa Barbara.
3. Work to design financial models that address city policies that will generate tax revenues from bar and drink taxes, bed and hotel taxes, and entertain the new taxation of medical marijuana businesses operating with our city.

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?

CC: Public safety through the Fire Department will not be trimmed. The full protection and safety of the general public’s home are of utmost importance and shall not be trimmed but supported to maintain their great fire service protection for the resident of Santa Barbara. There shall not be any pay raises until the city’s coffers are fully solvent. Public safety and the service of the Police Department will not be trimmed and the SBPD will not be given any raises during my tenure as council member. This agency shall maintain the same budgetary allotments and, if there is a reduction of the total budget, it shall be because all the other city departments have taken a budget reduction to balance and regain our positive economic position of the city’s funds.

NOOZHAWK: Would you support increasing or adding new municipal taxes as a revenue source?

Yes, please read point 3 of my answer to the third question. I support increasing and/or adding new municipal taxes as a revenue source. Also, there is a study I am conducting to develop new proposals to generate revenues and new business operations for innovative taxation. But, with the principle of note increasing new taxes for individuals, family and small-business owners. This sector of the population needs its money for mortgage payments, property taxes, rent, living expenses, food, kids school expenses, etc.

NOOZHAWK: Should any municipal services be privatized? If so, which ones?

CC: I reserve the right to answer this question after I fully study, investigate and make an analytical determination to which city services can be legally contracted out to private nongovernmental entities and independent contractors. However, if this privatization of services is embarked on as a city policy, than it shall be most important to have local businesses and local contractors to provide such services.

NOOZHAWK: Why do you support or oppose Measure B, the ballot measure that would restrict downtown building heights to 40 feet?

CC: I will vote for Measure B. I support the preservation and distinct architectural character of Santa Barbara. Additionally, the effect of the building of the new mixed-used structures on the Chapala Street corridor has not provided the necessary senior, middle and lower (workforce) housing needed to keep Santa Barbara residents in the city, but has out-priced native Santa Barbarans and kept them from purchasing such condominiums. We need future planning policies that are “equitable and ecological housing” for the residents of Santa Barbara.

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?

CC: I will reserve to answer this question until further research and analyses are conducted about the General Plan update. The optimistic future outlook for the city of Santa Barbara will be a vibrant and economically healthy municipality that has provided the general public good for its residents.

NOOZHAWK: The 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?

CC: Yes, the city’s planning and civic policies that affect housing, transportation, education, capital expenditures and revenues, and public services within the region, are critically important when making policy decisions locally and regionally. Any governmental policy decisions and future city planning that affects our region is important to consider when dealing with the multiple interacting variables that will develop stronger municipal infrastructures and greater public services. The regionally effects of past policies can be improved and the city’s record can be better in communicating and working in collaboration with other nongovernmental entities and businesses, other municipal jurisdictions, and civic leaders. In implementing and developing models of collaboration and joint-civic resources, coordination will be worked on as your next council member.

NOOZHAWK: If elected, what is the one issue on which you would focus to improve Santa Barbara’s quality of life?

CC: As a council member, my top priority will be to commence a pubic discussion of all the educational leaders and nonprofit organizations and business stakeholders to develop standards and a model of education that will produce our students (K-12) to strive and gain a higher education learning opportunity, implement youth-service programs that give student(s) the business orientation training and vocational-entrepreneurial internships in the community. Educational collaborations with the Santa Barbara School District, SBCC, UCSB, Rotary Club, Santa Barbara Regional Chamber of Commerce, merchants and local nonprofit organizations. This can only be done after I have conducted an in-depth educational fiscal study of our city’s finances for the past decades. Education has to be conducted of the fiscal accounting of the past decade to foster and generate my educational reform for the youth of our city.

NOOZHAWK: What is Santa Barbara’s most neglected neighborhood?

CC: The most neglected part of Santa Barbara is the pocket of the city. The neighborhoods of the Eastside and Westside have been neglected for some time.

NOOZHAWK: How would you control aggressive panhandling?

CC: Our city governmental policies are incorrectly dealing with this issue of “aggressive” panhandling in the wrong way. The idea of aggressive panhandling and enforcement of ordinances has not addressed the root of the problem of the lack of housing, poverty and homelessness from a social services-orientation model, but through a legalistic manner. This important public issue has to be dealt with by building and creating the public good to incorporate a social-service infrastructure to deal with this issue from a humanist method and not a punitive method that consumes private and public resources, thus causing more internal city cleavages than building understanding and individual empowerment to transition from homelessness to becoming self-sufficient through community collaborations and civic synergy.

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?

CC: Since the passage of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, existing state law and local rules, permit-process regulation, and recent passage of a city ordinance have to complement the demand of patients for access to medical marijuana dispensaries. The fact that there is large number of dispensaries within the city is a big concern for the public at-large and for the city to gain control and oversight of such businesses. However, the permitting process should establish a limit within the city limits and should look into the aspects of businesses that are nonprofit and not allow for medical dispensaries to operate for-profit businesses, thus allowing for the spirit of community cooperatives and collectives to have accessible and less costly medical marijuana. Strong consideration should be taken by the city to “tax medical dispensaries” to generate new revenues.

NOOZHAWK: Even with two catastrophic wildfires within the city limits in the last year, the danger is hardly diminished. What can the city do differently to prepare for the next one?

CC: It is imperative that we have a “catastrophe wildfire plan” (CWP) and response of public action(s) from local leaders, citizens at-large, and the public safety of the Fire Department to be well-equipped and well-funded to be prepared. Homeowners and renters can take proactive steps to clean the brush and create a safety buffer zone around the home that is free of flammable debris, brush-free and clear. Thus, allowing a “fire-buffer zone” around the homes that are in areas that the natural environment requires prevention fire maintenance. The best solutions are to have a town-hall meeting with the public safety team and the affected residents to determine the constructive steps to develop the CWP for the next wildfire and allowing for the “fire-buffer zone” ordinance to be a proactive measure to combat the possible next fire in our city.

NOOZHAWK: A grocery clerk asks you, “Paper or plastic?” You say:

CC: I say to the grocery clerk can you please place my groceries in my personal bag that I brought with me. Thank you. Our jurisdiction can follow the lead of other cities in California that have transitioned to providing their residents with their own grocery bag. We have to think green and we have to think reusable carry bags.

NOOZHAWK: How often do you use alternative transportation?

CC: I frequently ride my road bike around town and I ride the MTD bus. About a third of the time, I use my to travel distances, but within the city I bike on my road bike or use MTD. Since I live several blocks from downtown, I enjoying walking to places that are convenient to save on gas, money, and to do my part for less traffic congestion.

NOOZHAWK: What is Santa Barbara’s most precious asset?

CC: The people who reside within Santa Barbara are our most precious asset. My purpose in running for cuncil is to create a stronger “social economy” that protects and secures the benefits and rights of all Santa Barbarans. The people are the most important element of our polity, thus allowing for “equalitarianism” to be realized. The doctrine of the equality of womankind and mankind and the desirability of political, economic and social equality is the function of democratic government. Political equalitarianism is that we are born equal.

NOOZHAWK: What’s your favorite view?

CC: My favorite view is the looking point from Franceschi Park. The view of our lovely city of Santa Barbara at sunset creates the most beautiful panoramic view of the Channel Islands, the sky, the sea, the Mesa hills, and the lighting of the sun’s rays on the architectural designs and nature that you will not find anywhere in the world but here.

NOOZHAWK: Health care is all over the news these days. What do you do to stay fit?

CC: I have a nutritional diet. I ride my bike every other day. I dance twice every week for four hours. I run, jog and walk around town. Play basketball on Tuesdays at the downtown Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara with the UP2US program. Some weight training. And pray for a healthy spirit and healthy physical body, for how we treat own personal temple is how long our temple will be on this earth. But most important, I give thanks everyday for waking up and having a positive outlook on creating a healthy lifestyle that will help when I become a senior.

NOOZHAWK: The Coast Village Road roundabout is slowly nearing completion, but the island inside it is missing something. Do you support our plan to erect a Noozhawk statue there?

CC: No comment. This is Noozhawk business and a decision to be made by the local residents of Montecito.

Thank you to Noozhawk for publishing my responses to your questions. I greatly appreciate the time and service behind your Web site to educate and have the voting and nonvoting residents read our responses to make a determination on how each one will vote for Cruzito Herrera Cruz by Nov. 3. Please check the box and VOTE and ELECT Cruzito Herrera Cruz for Santa Barbara City Council. God bless our city and the people who reside within it.

Additional Resources

Larry Nimmer’s “Touring with the Candidates” video (www.nimmer.net)

Cruzito Herrera Cruz – Touring with the Candidates for S.B. City Council 2009 from Larry Nimmer on Vimeo.

Click here for SBCityVote.org’s candidate statement video