At a special endorsement meeting on Nov. 2, Campus Democrats at UCSB endorsed former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, in her bid for the 19th state Senate District seat.

Jackson will face both Democratic and Republican challengers in next year’s primary election and fought hard for the endorsement, which is critical to winning support on the UCSB campus and in the local community. She was endorsed with near-unanimous support from club members on a 29-1 vote.

Jackson is making a second bid for the 19th District seat after losing the 2008 election to Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, by an incredibly small margin. Out of 414,587 ballots cast, she trailed Strickland by fewer than 1,000 votes. The race was known statewide as one of the single most competitive in California even prior to Election Day in 2008, and the subsequent mandatory recount process kept supporters of both candidates on the edges of their seats for weeks. The recent redistricting following the 2010 census is expected to be a game-changer in this battleground district.

Campus Democrats at UCSB is an official affiliate of the Democratic Party, chartered with both California Young Democrats and the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party. As one of the largest and most active chartered clubs in the Santa Barbara area, its vote is critical to nabbing an endorsement from the county Democratic Party at the pre-primary endorsement conference in January.

Jackson served in the Assembly from 1998 to 2004, representing the 35th Assembly District (the seat currently held by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara). During her tenure, she earned a reputation as a fighter for higher education, women’s rights, economic equality, environmental protection and affordable health care. She was re-elected twice, ending her time in the Assembly only after reaching the three-term limit.

Jackson is a highly regarded local progressive who was named “Legislator of the Year” by the Consumer Federation of California, the Congress of California Senators, the California League of Conservation Voters, the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Junior League of California and Californians Against Waste. She has received similar awards from the California School Employees Association and Planned Parenthood.

“We’re thrilled to support Hannah-Beth Jackson,” said Erik Anciaux, president of the Campus Democrats at UCSB. “She has a long track record of supporting higher education, protecting the environment and fighting for equality.  In her time in the Assembly, she fought incredibly hard for students and the residents of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties for six years. Now it’s our turn to fight to make sure that she can continue her work in the California state Senate.

“We couldn’t be happier to have her back.”

Campus Democrats external affairs director Halie Albertson represents the club on the Democratic Central Committee of Santa Barbara County and at Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County meetings. She explained why Jackson is the clear choice for supporters of public education, full employment and a woman’s right to choose.

“I’m confident in Hannah-Beth’s dedication to supporting the interests of students and young people,” Albertson said. “She presents real solutions to issues like rising tuition costs, attacks on reproductive choice and high unemployment. I believe her vision in Sacramento will help put California back on the right track.”

— Geoffrey Bell is communications director of the Campus Democrats at UCSB.