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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 6:02 am | Fair 37º


Olivia Uribe Kicks Off Campaign for Santa Barbara Council

The candidate talks candidly about where she stands on local issues, and says she will strive to be "a voice for all"

Running on a theme of “A Voice for All,” Santa Barbara City Council candidate Olivia Uribe kicked off her campaign Thursday night surrounded by supporters at Cafe Buenos Aires.

Uribe, 24, is most often seen around town acting in her capacity as associate director of the Santa Barbara County Action Network (SB CAN), a nonprofit organization involved with housing, open space and transportation issues. But Uribe has her sights set on one of three, possibly four, council seats that will open up in November, and she was nothing less than direct about where she stands on local issues.

She said she’s passionate about keeping people who grew up in the community in Santa Barbara if they’d like to stay, instead of being driven out by a lack of housing. To allow for a diverse population to live here, she said, “I believe strongly that we need to be tougher with inclusionary housing policies, with condo conversions and also mass evictions.”

Uribe also strongly opposes a height initiative that has been the center of controversy among Santa Barbara residents, many of whom back an initiative on November’s ballot limiting building heights. On Thursday night, Uribe called the measure “shortsighted and misguided.”

“It’s not just about height,” Uribe told Noozhawk after her announcement. “It’s about height, bulk, size, scale, setbacks, and we need to address them all. But we can’t tie our hands behind our backs on one part of it and try to solve everything else.”

She said she’s looking forward to the dialogue on that issue and that she’s open to arguments trying to convince her otherwise. “I have yet to hear one,” she said.

Talking to the crowd, Uribe acknowledged that the city faces some large challenges, and that the solutions may not come easily. She’s aiming to represent “segments of the community that have not been traditionally engaged, such as young and Latino voters.”

Uribe was born in Mexico City and came to Santa Barbara with her adoptive parents when she was 8. She graduated from UCSB with a degree in political science and has been active in a plethora of organizations, including the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee and PUEBLO.

The City Council has never had a Latina member, and Uribe noted that Latinos make up a huge percentage of Santa Barbara. “We’re a vital part of this community; we’re just not in the process as much,” she said.

She joins a dozen other candidates for November’s race, and has been endorsed by the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, Goleta City Councilwoman Margaret Connell, Santa Barbara County planning commissioner Cecilia Brown, and community activists Mickey and Dick Flacks, among others.

Uribe’s talk focused on housing, sustainability and youth violence. She said sustainability should be “thought of as a way of life and not a trend,” and said that the violence on the streets, as well as the causes, should be addressed. In that vein, she said she would oppose any policies that would reduce the number of police officers and firefighters.

Connell and fellow Goleta Councilman Ed Easton attended Thursday’s event, as did mayoral candidate Justin Michael.

Former Supervisor Susan Rose also was present.

Connell noted Uribe’s age, but lauded her experience. She said Uribe had been a key player in Connell’s campaign last year when she ran — and won — a Goleta council seat.

Miguel Avila, a volunteer for Uribe’s campaign, spoke before Uribe and said that many people have made an issue of her age, contending she’s not experienced enough to tackle the task.

“Have you ever had a conversation with her? You’d think she was 50 years old,” he said. “What the City Council needs is young blood, young ideas.”

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

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