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Local News

David Pritchett Enters Santa Barbara Council Race

"Off-Leash Public Affairs" videographer says the city needs to hear from "regular Joes and Josefinas."

David Pritchett, speaking at a recent anti-crime rally in the Downtown West neighborhood, says Santa Barbara must find ways to increase its police patrols.
David Pritchett, speaking at a recent anti-crime rally in the Downtown West neighborhood, says Santa Barbara must find ways to increase its police patrols. (Michelle J. Wong / Noozhawk photo)

You’ve seen him at Santa Barbara city meetings, you’ve noticed him around town with his video camera, you may have even caught him on his cable access show, Off-Leash Public Affairs.

Before too long, you might find David Pritchett behind the dais at City Hall, if the newest candidate for Santa Barbara City Council gets his way. He has already filed the paperwork to become a candidate in the election that, so far, includes Councilwomen Iya Falcone and Helene Schneider running for mayor.

“I’m concerned that decisions by the city are drifting away from what people need,” Pritchett told Noozhawk. “Especially those who aren’t active in the city’s political processes.”

Calling himself a representative of Santa Barbara’s “regular Joes and Josefinas,” Pritchett already has a list called “10 Policy Actions for the Change We Need,” which outlines his goals as a council member.

While the list is not completely fleshed out, his main objectives include fiscal discipline; public safety; preservation of neighborhood character; maintenance of rental housing stock; the protection and restoration of the natural environment; expansion of a regional transportation system; the respect of the inherent worth and dignity of every city resident; the improvement of the responsiveness of city government; transparent government procedures; and the implementation of a sensible General Plan update.

“I don’t think that any honest candidate should pretend that they have solutions to everything,” said Pritchett, adding that local issues are easily affected by regional and global events. But, he said, there are problems that could be addressed by rearranging the city’s priorities.

“The city has this thing called the Neighborhood Improvement Task Force, which sort of drops in now and then and abates the graffiti and cleans up the trash,” he said. By elevating the profile of that program, he said, the city could respond to some concerns that many neighborhoods share.

Pritchett, who graduated from UCSB with an environmental science degree and from the University of Wisconsin with a master’s in Science in Land Resources, first got his start as a member of the Creek Restoration and Clean Water Improvement Committee. His later appointments to other city and Santa Barbara County offices gave him an idea of the kinds of issues local governments face: increased traffic, need for affordable and rental housing, crime, open-space conservation. Currently he’s the program director and restoration ecologist for the state-run FiSHTAP (Fixing Stream Habitats Technical Assistance Program).

“Over time I got interested in the broader issues,” he said. He was also recruited to the board of the Santa Barbara County Action Network, or SB CAN, whose stance on housing, open space and transportation mirror and have probably influenced his own.

“There can’t be zero growth in Santa Barbara,” said Pritchett, adding that a growth rate of roughly 1 percent per year is acceptable. Meanwhile, he said, housing and transportation have to be planned in such a way that the growth doesn’t degrade the quality of life in the city.

First on his list, however, is fiscal responsibility, and in tandem, decisions that have to be made to support a modest increase in police patrols. He announced his idea at a recent rally held by West Downtown residents who were protesting the conditions they say have led to increased violence in their neighborhood.

Click here for more information on Pritchett.

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