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Armendariz Steps Down from Zona Seca Board

Carpinteria councilman, convicted of DUI charges, says he will continue to support the nonprofit, which helps people overcome alcohol addiction

Carpinteria City Councilman Joe Armendariz has stepped down from his role on the board for Zona Seca, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping people overcome alcohol addiction.

Carpinteria City Councilman Joe Armendariz
Carpinteria City Councilman Joe Armendariz

Armendariz was charged with DUI after crashing his vehicle on Highway 101 north of Padaro Lane on Dec. 2, 2011, a collision that left him with serious injuries.

It was his second DUI arrest within five years, and the District Attorney’s Office charged him with DUI and driving with a blood-alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit.

Armendariz pleaded no contest earlier this year and was sentenced to 61 days in the County Jail and three years of probation, and his license has been suspended for a year.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Armendariz said he felt it was time to step down from Zona Seca’s board, on which he had served since 2007. He had been chairman since 2010, and his term was set to expire in 2013.

“I believe my ability to provide value to the agency has reached its limit and in fact could potentially prove counterproductive to the future goals of the agency,” he quoted from a letter written to Frank Banales, Zona Seca’s executive director, as well as its Board of Directors. “It has been an honor and a privilege as well as a rewarding experience for me on a very personal level participating as a member of the Board of Directors and as the agency’s chairman of the board these past few years. I am especially pleased that I am stepping down at a time when the agency’s board has an embarrassment of riches in terms of quality individuals to help you steer the ship. It is simply top notch.”

Armendariz stated earlier this year that he has struggled with alcoholism for the better part of 25 years and is committed to recovery.

“I have a lot of power in certain areas of my life; I have no power when it comes to alcohol,” he said in a statement at a December 2011 City Council meeting. “I have learned the hard way how difficult this issue is, and it’s not something that’s unique to me. It’s something that many, many, many members of my family over the years have also struggled with.”

In Wednesday’s statement, Armendariz said he continues to support the organization and remains “a big fan” of Banales.

“Five years ago, Frank and I set out to build a board that would make people like me serving on it unnecessary,” he said. “We succeeded beyond our wildest imagination.”

Banales told Noozhawk Thursday that Armendariz had been “very instrumental” in helping the organization navigate difficult economic times.

“I can understand his desire to narrow the focus on personal and business challenges,” Banales said.  “I wish him the best and hope that someday he may return to the organization and serve as a board member again.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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