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2012 Santa Barbara County Supervisor Q&A with Joni Gray

[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series of questionnaires with the candidates running for three seats on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors in the June 5 election. This installment is the 4th District. Click here for the complete series index.]

NOOZHAWK: What, if anything, should Santa Barbara County do to make up for the loss of funding from the state of California’s elimination of redevelopment agencies?

Joni Gray
Joni Gray

JONI GRAY: The Orcutt Community Plan is the model. The community, business leaders, citizens and county staff wrote the plan and moved downtown Orcutt from a nonplace to the “place to be.” New business went in, established businesses remodeled, and citizens did home improvement. The county improved the street through design and construction and the community did the landscaping. This was done with no redevelopment funds.

NOOZHAWK: Given the loss of redevelopment agency funds throughout the county, should the revenue-neutrality agreement with the City of Goleta be modified? Why or why not?

JG: The revenue-neutrality agreement should not be modified because it was a contract entered into with Goleta when it became a city.

NOOZHAWK: Several local jurisdictions are considering an increase in the transient-occupancy tax as a way to address revenue shortfalls. Should the county increase its bed tax?

JG: No, because the hotel business should not be discouraged from locating business in the county. We need the visitors because they provide jobs.

                        |  2012 June Primary Coverage |  Complete Series Index  |

NOOZHAWK: With gas prices at record highs and chronic budget shortfalls prevalent at all levels of government, should Santa Barbara County encourage more oil and gas development? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?

JG: YES!

NOOZHAWK: Although realignment of California’s criminal justice system was imposed abruptly, it appears to have potential for real reform. How should the county’s justice system be re-created, and how would you ensure that the reforms are successful?

JG: Probation, the sheriff, District Attorney and Public Defender will need to continue to work on managing this new population with the cooperation of the courts.

NOOZHAWK: Assuming funds can be found to build a North County jail, how will the county pay for ongoing operational costs?

JG: The county must immediately begin putting money aside to be ready to operate the jail when it opens, assuming in 2017. This means we need to set aside at least three years of operating costs before opening.

NOOZHAWK: What should the county be doing to address deficits in county Fire Department budgets?

JG: We should increase the Fire District allotment to 17 percent rather than 11.1 percent of property-tax revenue.

NOOZHAWK: Do you support reforming the county’s pension system, and if so, how aggressive should that reform be? If not, why not?

JG: New hires will be placed on a new tier in which the employee pays a greater part of the pension costs, the retirement age should be higher, and the service credit lower. In addition, retirement benefits should be based on a three- to five-year final average salary. I would like to see the county move toward defined contribution rather than a defined benefit system.

NOOZHAWK: Do you support Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax increases on the November ballot? What impact do you foresee if voters approve them or reject them?

JG: No, because I believe raising taxes hurts the economy as people move to other states and businesses relocate in other states.

NOOZHAWK: What solution do you support to help prevent erosion at Goleta Beach County Park?

JG: The community should form a committee and come up with a solution and raise the money to do what is best for the community.

NOOZHAWK: What changes, if any, do you think the county should be pursuing in its Housing Element?

JG: The county should encourage housing closer to job sources.

NOOZHAWK: Do you support the Goleta Heritage Farmlands Initiative and similar land-use measures? Is ballot-box zoning an appropriate practice or does it circumvent the established planning process? Explain.

JG: This is a Goleta decision. However, I do not support ballot-box zoning. I personally support agriculture and the “right to farm” one’s land.

NOOZHAWK: How effective is the county’s current approach to issues confronted by the Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services? What changes would you like to see?

JG: I would like clients to be identified and the appropriate programs billed for services. Further, insurances sources should be identified and billed.

NOOZHAWK: Explain your views on efforts by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to expand the tribe’s sovereign territory, especially in the noncontiguous Camp 4 area of the Santa Ynez Valley.

JG: The Chumash have provided great employment opportunities for the citizens of the 4th District. They have been very generous to our numerous nonprofit organizations.

NOOZHAWK: Does the county need to change the way it oversees agencies like the Lompoc Housing & Community Development Corp.? Why or why not?

JG: All non profits seeking HUD (Housing and Urban Development Department), HOME etc. funds should be held to the same standards.

NOOZHAWK: Concerns have been raised about the rapid growth of wine tasting rooms and the potential impacts on public safety. Is the county effectively managing the issue? Explain your answer.

JG: The wine business is very important to the county’s economy. Wine tasting is only a small part of the business. Wineries are not in business to sell wine by the glass. Rather, tasting is an important method that results in the selling of “cases” of wine.

NOOZHAWK: What role should the county play in economic development? Is the county doing too much, too little, or the right amount?

JG: The county should be business-friendly and encourage new businesses and industry.

NOOZHAWK: What is the major public issue in Isla Vista and how should the county be addressing it?

JG: It is the allowance of the invasion of Isla Vista on Halloween, and the county should shut it down. It costs anywhere from $800,000 to $1 million every year. The county shut down Floatopia; it can be done.

NOOZHAWK: Panga boats favored by smugglers have been found abandoned with increasing frequency and marijuana eradication requires considerable annual resources. Are our shores and backcountry safe? Is the county’s approach to these problems sufficient? With respect to smuggling from offshore, are you satisfied with the federal government’s response? Explain.

JG: This is a federal issue.

NOOZHAWK: Rate the county’s management of issues relating to the preservation of open space. What definitive steps should it be taking?

JG: The county has done a serious job with the preservation of open space.

NOOZHAWK: What county government issue should Noozhawk cover more thoroughly?

JG: You have a fine executive editor, Tom Bolton. He knows county issues.

                        |  2012 June Primary Coverage |  Complete Series Index  |

Additional Resources

» Click here for Joni Gray’s campaign Website, or call 805.736.4005. Connect with Joni Gray on Facebook.

» Click here for more information on Santa Barbara County’s June 5 election.

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