Thursday, March 22 , 2018, 4:14 am | Overcast 59º


With 5 on Campaign Trail, Santa Barbara Council Forms Candidates Quorum

Only Mayor Marty Blum and Councilman Roger Horton are not currently running for election to a local or state seat

Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum and City Councilman Roger Horton are not running for elected office, the only two members of the City Council not currently campaigning. And at this rate — with 17 council candidates and seven mayoral candidates who have taken out nomination papers so far — they may be the only politically minded people in Santa Barbara who aren’t.

It’s potentially the largest list of candidates in the past 10 years, and having five of seven city council members campaigning at once is something Blum has never seen.

“There are five of them running, it’s totally crazy,” she said. “I’m sincere in hoping it doesn’t affect what we do in there. I don’t know how it can’t affect it, but I’d like it not to affect it.”

Council members Iya Falcone, Dale Francisco and Helene Schneider are all running for mayor. Councilman Grant House is running for re-election, and Councilman Das Williams is campaigning for the 35th Assembly District seat. Blum hopes things don’t get personal on — or off — the council so the city’s leadership can concentrate on the job at hand.

“Now that the third person is in there, it changes the dynamics a bit,” she said. “I hope they don’t start talking against each other up there. I have found in the past that people who are running for office will say something at somebody’s house (at a party) that they wouldn’t say in public.”

But Blum said she doesn’t see awkwardness among the candidates. “So far it’s been pretty normal, as normal as it can be, and I hope it continues that way,” she said. “We don’t need any extra stress.”

Horton said there is a noticeable difference. “I think tensions are kind of higher than they were, you know, a few weeks back, and will probably get more and more so as we get down to November,” he said.

Horton said he is attempting to stay neutral by contributing equally to all colleagues’ campaigns. He said he definitely won’t endorse anyone for mayor, but he has endorsed House’s re-election bid.

“I’ve been getting the full-court press by a lot of people to endorse, you know, particularly candidates who the party has endorsed,” Horton said, “but I think I may just try to keep it to Grant since he’s a colleague.”

Blum has endorsed candidates for both races, but she said she wants people to make their own decisions.

The latest decision Blum made is not to pursue public office again, although she said she has always been interested in politics.

“I ran for sixth-grade president, but I didn’t win because I didn’t vote for myself. I lost by one vote, so you learn these lessons as you go,” she said with a laugh, noting that she always voted for herself after that. “I want to sit on the sidelines of a parade — which I haven’t done for 14 years, I’ve always been in the parade — and I just want to enjoy it as a citizen.”

Blum has been working since age 11, but after handing the reins to her successor, she plans to retire and write about her time as mayor.

In the office next to hers, Horton also has decided to call it a day in City Hall.

He came into city politics after careers in the Air Force, as an assistant chancellor at UCSB and in financial management in the private sector, and he said he never got used to being in the public eye.

“I hope to keep involved in local political matters, but in terms of looking for political office ... I just don’t really see that,” Horton said.

He said he is looking forward to pursuing areas he got involved with during his time on the council. His favorite areas are working with youths and children, including being a First 5 commissioner for Santa Barbara County, and the commuter rail program.

As chairman of the Finance Committee, Horton sees the budget and education as big challenges facing the new council.

“The revenue that we depend on — residency occupancy tax, sales tax, property tax — (has) fallen off at a rate that we haven’t seen since we’ve been keeping stats,” he said. “We hit this 2008 recession thing and we haven’t seen anything like it, so the next group of people is going to have to hope that the revenues turn around.”

It’s “quite likely” that more cuts will have to be made before the current council leaves office, he said.

Horton and Blum’s interest in education could be because of something besides their noncandidacies — being two of three members on the council to have children.

“Maybe it’s just a happenstance, but the youth violence and after-school programs are very high on my radar as a former teacher, and on Roger’s,” Blum noted.

“My whole focus in most everything I do really is education,” Horton said. “I think the future of California and the future of the United States hinges upon being able to have an educated citizenry.”

Although 24 people have picked up nomination papers, only a handful have filed them with the mandatory 100 signatures to the City Clerk’s Office, Deputy City Clerk Brenda Alcazar said. The deadline to file papers is Aug. 10, and only mayoral candidate Isaac Garrett’s paperwork has been verified.

Eighteen people have filed candidate intention forms, which are required before soliciting or receiving contributions.

“I’ve been telling people all the sharks are starting to circle. I feel like they’re getting very numerous around me,” Blum said with a laugh. “(But) nobody’s aimed any arrows at anybody, and that’s a good thing. We need to talk about the issues.”

November will be the city’s first vote-by-mail election, which was passed by the City Council in March. It costs about $50,000 less than a poll election, and 66.5 percent of the electorate voted by mail in the 2007 municipal election.

The 17 council candidates who have picked up nomination papers are Lane Anderson, Dianne Channing, John Gibbs, Cruzito Herrera, Frank Hotchkiss, Grant House, Brennon Kaye, Cathie McCammon, David Pritchett, Bonnie Raisin, Tianna Scozzaro, Nicholas Sebastian, Michael Self, Justin Tevis, John Thyne, Olivia Uribe and Harwood White.

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

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