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Schneider Makes Mayoral Plans Official with Campaign Kickoff

Councilwoman says priorities are public safety and the environment, with Santa Barbara's financial challenges the overriding concern

Supporters and well-wishers gathered at the Lobero Theatre courtyard Monday to officially kick off Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Helene Schneider’s campaign for mayor.

“We’re not a big city, the mayor’s position is one of seven when it comes to votes,” Schneider told the low-key crowd. “But I think the people of Santa Barbara look to that position of mayor a little differently than people in other cities.”

Among the Santa Barbara leaders, past and present, in attendance were Councilman Das Williams, former Councilman Brian Barnwell, outgoing Mayor Marty Blum, and former Mayor Sheila Lodge

“Helene understands what Santa Barbara is all about, what makes this such a wonderful, special place to live, and she’ll help keep it that way,” Lodge said.

Mayor Marty Blum agreed.

“I think Helene will do a great job. She works very well with people, and really has Santa Barbara at heart,” she said.

Other notable supporters on hand included Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves and Councilman Ed Easton; Bill Rosen of the Goleta Water District board; Goleta Union School District trustee Susan Epstein; Santa Barbara school board president Kate Parker; former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson; and Dave Davis, CEO and executive director of the Community Environmental Council.

Among the issues Schneider said she considered important to Santa Barbara were public safety and the environment, overshadowed by the city’s financial challenges.

“While facing significant budget cuts, our financial decisions must keep the city aligned with our community’s values,” she said. “We can and must have safe neighborhoods, clean beaches and creeks, and wise community planning that preserves our distinctive culture.”

The city will need to make some hard decisions, she warned.

“It’s not that city government is going to solve everything, but it could be the leader in getting people to the place that we want to go,” she said. Solving social problems, like homelessness and preventing youth violence, will require the will of the people as well, she said.

Another issue for Schneider includes Santa Barbara’s pace of growth.

“Santa Barbara’s small-town feel and neighborhood character is part of what makes our city such a great place to live,” she said. “I am a strong advocate of slow-managed growth policies and comprehensive responsible planning.”

The event, although relaxed, marked the official start of Schneider’s mayoral campaign. The evening’s business included videotaping endorsements from the local leaders present and fundraising. Campaign plans for the November election are still being put together, she said.

“It’s important to pace yourself,” Schneider said. “We’re going to be doing this for the next seven months.”

Schneider won re-election to the council in 2007 and would surrender her seat if elected to succeed Mayor Marty Blum, who is barred by term limits from running again. Other declared candidates are fellow Councilwoman Iya Falcone and entrepreneur Justin Michael. Among those running for the City Council are Councilman Grant House, who is seeking re-election, and challengers Lane Anderson, Dianne Channing, David Pritchett and Harwood “Bendy” White.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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