Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 3:48 am | Fair 54º


Local News

John Thyne Enters Fray for Santa Barbara Council Race

Attorney/real estate broker cites finances, public safety and city's character as top three issues

After spending a decade in Santa Barbara as an attorney and real estate broker, John Thyne III has announced his intention to run for City Council.

“I think now is the time that I could be helpful to the city,” said Thyne, who filed a candidate intention statement Thursday.

Thyne, 41, decided to enter the race after surveying the field and fielding campaign encouragement from many of his associates.

“I’ve been approached by a lot of people with different views,” he said. His colleagues at the nonprofit organizations he supports, law firm friends, clients, even law students of his have suggested he take on the challenge of helping steer Santa Barbara, with its diverse population and complex issues.

The son of a self-made man who went from the Sears loading docks to a vice presidency of Pepsi-Cola, and a stay-at-home mom who went on to become executive director of an assisted-living facility in New Jersey, Thyne is no stranger to hard work. The unmarried Irish/Italian Catholic Boston native grew up wanting to be a priest, then a doctor before working his way through law school in Tulsa, Okla.

He moved to Santa Barbara in 1999, and five years later co-founded with business partner Kevin Goodwin the real estate firm Goodwin & Thyne Properties, whose unusual hook is representing buyers and sellers for a commission of just 1.5 percent, significantly below the going rate of traditional real-estate firms. Thyne also continues to practice civil litigation, he teaches at Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law, and volunteers regularly for organizations like Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic and the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.

“I’m not a single-issue candidate,” said Thyne, who cited three primary areas of interest: the city’s finances, public safety and maintaining the character of the city.

If elected, Thyne would have no lack of challenges. Santa Barbara faces a potential $10.8 million budget deficit in the face of a bad state and national economy. Local groups are grappling with the merits and drawbacks to development. Residents are growing more and more concerned about violent crime.

Generally speaking, Thyne said his goals for the local economy would be to increase revenue and save more money. It might take some work with the private sector to help make up for the transient occupancy and sales taxes the city has been missing out on, he said.

“I don’t deny that it will be difficult,” he said.

As for what is being perceived as a growing problem with violent crime, Thyne is in favor of considering measures as tough as gang injunctions and gang sweeps, similar to those in Los Angeles and Oxnard, as well as boosting efforts to prevent kids from joining gangs in the first place.

“We need to be providing youth with positive constructive alternatives,” he said, pointing out the many local nonprofits that could work together toward that end.

As far as the preservation of the city’s character, Thyne acknowledges the complexity of the issues.

“(Building height) is an issue for the public to decide on a ballot initiative; the citizens will decide themselves,” he said.

But, it’s not just about height, he said, referring to the Chapala One and Paseo Chapala projects that he says have become the poster children for a need for regulation.

“Bulk is what most people react to when looking at those two projects. It’s not a height issue, it is a parking issue and a design issue,” he said, adding that he agreed with the notion that limiting height would also limit the city’s ability to get moderate income housing in the downtown area.

“It’s been a long and winding road that led to here,” Thyne said of his decision to run. It was a road that detoured into a 2007 DUI conviction after he was stopped while driving home from a fundraising “bachelor auction.” He pleaded guilty, paid the fine and performed the community service.

“It was an incredible mistake,” he said. “I wish I could go back and and change it, and I’m glad I didn’t hurt anyone.” His three-year probation ends next year.

Thyne does not yet have definite plans for his campaign, or the fundraising, joking that he was “open to suggestions.” He already has been receiving more phone calls, if that’s any indication of the work he’ll have to do to beat out what is becoming a crowded field: incumbent Grant House, Lane Anderson, Dianne Channing, David Pritchett, Olivia Uribe and Harwood “Bendy” White.

“I think that public service is a great personal commitment; everybody who is running in this race or seeking public office is to be commended,” said Thyne. “I do think that we have a very tight-knit community and I certainly respect and applaud the other candidates for answering the call.”

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

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