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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 8:41 am | Fair 48º


Longtime Santa Barbara Resident Isaac Garrett Announces Mayoral Run

The real estate broker has specific ideas about how to address the city's budget and housing issues

Surrounded by a small group of supporters, Isaac Garrett announced outside City Hall on Tuesday that he’s entering the Santa Barbara mayoral race.

Garrett, a Santa Barbara resident since 1960, has been a real estate broker for 36 years. He said he has served on city commissions, the school board and as president of the local NAACP chapter for several years. He also was employed with the city’s streets department as a maintenance worker for seven years.

Garrett said hearing of union groups endorsing candidates simply because they would strengthen their interests was the tipping point for his mayoral run.

“That was what pushed me over the edge,” he said. “I became disenchanted with the idea of unions pouring a certain amount of money into certain candidates’ campaigns.”

Particularly abrasive to Garrett was a pay raise the City Council granted in February.

“They were looking at a deficit, and yet they gave city employees a raise and an extra holiday,” he said.

That point was a lead-in for his speech Tuesday. He began by saying that campaign financing is “one of the main reasons why the voters have lost control of their elected officials.” Garrett pledged to limit contributions to his campaign to $500 from any one source, and he would call on the other candidates to do the same.

Tandem to his mention of contribution limits, Garrett also said he would like to see Santa Barbara return to district elections, with a council member coming from each of five districts, including the Mesa and San Roque, with the mayor and mayor pro tempore elected at large.

On jobs and housing, Garrett said he would like to see employers take on some of the burden of helping employees find affordable housing. “It will take some time, but it can be done,” he said. “That is the reason we have the problems we have now because we don’t have people thinking outside of the box.”

He also said he’s up to facing the city’s budget challenges, to which he recommended going to each department manager and looking for cuts. “I would ask them to give me a reason why that budget couldn’t be reduced by at least 10 percent,” he said.

When a reporter asked Garrett whether the city hadn’t already done that with its June budget decisions, he said he thought the departments could be better managed than they are now. 

“If I had a manager that couldn’t manage their department well enough to be able to stagger employees to work at City Hall and public works or any other essential service to be open five days a week, I would consider whether that person was the right manager for that department,” he said.

Another reporter asked Garrett what he thought of traffic-calming measures, such as bulbouts, which have become somewhat of a hot-button issue. “I think it’s ridiculous,” he said, calling them a waste of taxpayer money. “I’ve always said it’s not the majority of people who want this, it’s a small few who are behind the scenes.”

Longtime friend Frances Moore was present at the announcement Tuesday and said Garrett would be an excellent choice for mayor. “Isaac is straightforward, and you know exactly how he feels,” she said.

Moore said the high turnout for candidates is a good sign. “I think people are interested,” she said, adding that last November’s election garnered momentum — and turnout — at the polls. “That makes people more interested about what’s going on in their environment.”

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

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