The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday night appointed downtown business owner Randy Rowse to fill the seat recently vacated by newly sworn-in Assemblyman Das Williams.
Rowse was immediately sworn in by City Clerk Cyndi Rodriguez and will be more formally accepted at the next meeting in January.
Already busy with running his Paradise Café, he said he will have to juggle employees’ schedules to work around his new job at City Hall, which is just one block from his restaurant.
“Being in the business I’m in, I’m not used to getting much sleep anyway,” he said.
Rowse and his wife, Janet, a frequent public commenter at council meetings, said they were surprised but pleased with the appointment.
From a diverse, experienced field of 46 applicants to fill the one vacancy, the council whittled the list to eight after two rounds of voting.
In addition to Rowse, the finalists were Brian Barnwell, Sharon Byrne, David Hughes, John Jostes, Sheila Lodge, Loretta Redd and John Torell. From that pool, the council made repeated nominations in an attempt to get four votes but kept coming up with three-to-three totals.
Failing to reach consensus, council members discussed their choices and advocated for certain candidates. Councilman Dale Francisco noted Rowse’s dedication to the city through his involvement in the Downtown Organization and the Downtown Parking Committee, his business smarts and, especially, his new perspective to the budget issue.
Rowse received three consecutive nominations, in which he tied three-to-three with Torell and Hughes, then received four votes to Barnwell’s two.
Rowse said he decided to run because he had ideas about what kind of person should be appointed and opted to “put up.” He said he’s passionate about the downtown core, wants to address security and safety concerns, and resolve Plan Santa Barbara. Like many of the favored finalists, he said he has no political aspirations beyond the one-year appointment and wants to approach each issue on its own rather than on a particular ideological side.
He said he doesn’t hold a defined position on the controversial General Plan update, which most likely made him one of the favored applicants, and is up to speed on the issues of density and zoning.
Rowse has lived in the area since attending UCSB in the 1970s and started Paradise Café in 1983. He and his wife have a son who is a USC senior and a daughter who is a high school senior.
The last time someone was appointed to the City Council was in 1993, when Mayor Hal Conklin was forced to resign because of term limits. Harriet Miller replaced him as mayor, and Phil Bugay was appointed to fill the vacancy.
— Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.