Santa Barbara mayoral candidate Iya Falcone got the endorsement of key public safety officials Monday.
Gathered at Stearns Wharf, members of the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association, the Santa Barbara City Firefighters for Better Government and the Santa Barbara County Firefighters Association announced their support for the two-term councilwoman’s plans to seek the city’s top seat. Representatives from the Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriff’s Association were not there but the organization also endorses Falcone.
“We are proud to endorse Iya Falcone’s candidacy for mayor,” said Charles McChesney of the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association. “In her years at city council she has always been the leader at giving us the tools that we need to do our job to help keep this city safe.”
“Public safety is huge, (public) services are huge and we need the commitment to keep the services at the level they are right now,” added Tony Pighetti of the Santa Barbara City Firefighters for Better Government.
Falcone said it was vital that public safety agencies have everything they need to maintain levels of service in the face of a Tea Fire or increasing gang-related violence.
“I am proposing no cuts to public safety,” said Falcone, referring to the city budget. Falcone, the council’s liaison with the Police Department, said she wants the city to keep police force staffing at 140 employees, and in the future maybe even raise it to 150.
“I don’t think (140) is adequate,” she said. “But I’m not going to be able to change that in the next several years, but I can help to keep it status quo.” Any budget cuts, she said, should be made in a way that do no affect police coverage.
Falcone also said she would “rail against” any cuts to fire protection services.
In her discussion she mentioned her experience with creating the graffiti ordinance.
“I know (it) still has issues, but it is much more effective now ... what happened over the weekend is unacceptable,” she said, referring to a rash of vandalism along several Santa Barbara streets.
Falcone also mentioned the city’s 12-point plan to deal with aggressive panhandling. She said the proposal puts more teeth into the penalties for repeat offenders.
“It’s coupled with compassion, it’s coupled with intervention, with outreach and many, many services,” said Falcone, who declined to comment on the ACLU’s recent lawsuit against the city with regard to ordinances addressing sleeping and camping in public.
If the 12-point plan does need changes, however, Falcone said she would be the first to lead them.
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