Wednesday, October 17 , 2018, 1:01 am | Fair 60º


Polls Open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for Tuesday’s Election

3rd District supervisor's race is pivotal match-up but voters also will weigh SBCC's Measure V construction bond.

Maybe it’s because this is the calm before the November presidential-election storm, or maybe it’s because summer is fast approaching. Whatever the reason, Santa Barbara County elections officials are expecting a tiny voter turnout for Tuesday’s primaries.

“It’s really quiet for this primary election this year, for some reason,” said Hector Gonzalez, an elections specialist in the county elections department. “But the November election is going to be crazy.”

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, and mail ballots can be dropped off at any polling station. Click here for up-to-the-minute county election results, which will be available beginning at 8:05 p.m. Tuesday.

The quiet season is not for lack of a heated race.

The fiercest battle is in the contest for 3rd District supervisor, where five hopefuls are vying for a seat to be vacated by Supervisor Brooks Firestone. Some say it’s the most important supervisorial election in recent memory.

Technically, the Board of Supervisors is a nonpartisan government body. In reality it’s anything but. Stretching from Isla Vista through the Goleta Valley to the Santa Ynez Valley, the 3rd District is the most politically diverse portion of a county that is split between the Democrat-leaning South Coast and Republican-tilting North County. In a sense, it’s the swing vote as Firestone often votes with fellow North County Supervisors Joe Centeno and Joni Gray for a 3-2 majority.

If no candidate collects more than 50 percent of Tuesday’s vote, the two front-runners will face of in the Nov. 4 general election.

The candidates include physician David Bearman, retired businesswoman Dorreen Farr, businessman Steve Pappas, Buellton City Councilwoman Victoria Pointer and former Solvang Mayor Dave Smyser.

The two candidates with the most political backing appear to be Farr, who boasts the endorsement of the Democratic Party in Santa Barbara, and Smyser, who has received the blessings of Firestone and the Republican Party establishment.

Pappas, a Republican-turned-independent, was endorsed by UCSB’s Daily Nexus newspaper. Pointer, also an independent, has vowed to mend the deep political divisions on the board. Bearman, a Democrat, has long been an advocate for medical marijuana, but also has served on the boards of the Goleta Water District and Goleta West Sanitary District.

Also being contested is the 4th Distrtict, where Gray is facing a challenge from retired Santa Maria Police Chief John Sterling. The district includes Lompoc, Casmalia, Guadalupe and Orcutt.

Gray, a Republican, is backed by Firestone and other North County power-brokers. The 10-year incumbent told the Santa Maria Times she prides herself on the fiscal conservatism that she believes has greatly contributed to a 10-fold growth in the county reserve budget during her tenure.

Sterling is a registered Republican, but nonetheless has received the endorsements of the left-leaning Santa Barbara County Action Network, or SB CAN. He has openly opposed the proposed cuts to the county Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services budget.

Also on the ballot will be a contest for the 19th state Senate District in which two candidates — Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson and Republican Tony Strickland — will duke it out in the fall to fill the seat left open by Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, who is leaving the Legislature as a result of term limits.

Other contests include a race for Congress pitting Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, against Republican financial planner Matt Kokkonen of San Luis Obispo, and a four-way bout to fill the seat vacated by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Diana Hall.

Santa Barbarans also will decide the outcome of Measure V, a $77 million construction bond initiative for City College that, if approved by 55 percent of the voters, will be used to fix up campus buildings in need of repair.

Voters across California also will be asked to decide the fates of two competing ideas, Proposition 98, an anti-eminent-domain measure that also would prohibit rent control, and Proposition 99, an anti-eminent-domain measure that would not.

Noozhawk staff writer Rob Kuznia can be reached at [email protected]

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