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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 1:41 pm | Fair 66º


Planning Commissioner Sheila Lodge’s Council Endorsements Represent Unusual Alliance

The Democrat announces her support for incumbents Randy Rowse, Dale Francisco and Michael Self, three of the more conservative candidates

On the steps of City Hall, Santa Barbara Planning Commissioner Sheila Lodge talked with the media Tuesday about her decision to endorse City Council incumbents Randy Rowse, Dale Francisco and Michael Self in this fall’s election.

Lodge, a lifelong Democrat, is supporting three of the City Council’s more conservative candidates. Rowse, Francisco and Self serve are running for re-election when their three council seats expire, and seven other candidates are also running in the Nov. 8 election.

Her move struck some longtime political observers as radical. Self and Rowse are registered independents, but Francisco is a Republican, making Lodge’s support an unusual alliance.

The pair have been aligned with slow-growth policies during General Plan discussions, but both ran for office with that approach to growth in their platforms.

Lodge touched on her background Tuesday before talking about her endorsement. She served as mayor of Santa Barbara from 1981 to 1993, before which she served on the City Council.

“For more than 18 years, City Hall was my home away from home,” she told the media, adding that changes have taken place since then. “Unfortunately, some have not been for the better.”

She said partisan politics play a much bigger role in council affairs now — a body intended to be nonpartisan. She also took issue with the relationship between public employee unions and council members.

“In the past, council members had an arm’s length relationship with the unions,” Lodge said. “Union representatives did not have the opportunity to pressure individual council members for greater pay and benefits in exchange for support at election time.”

She said Francisco was the sole vote against pay raises several years ago, that Self had the city’s best interest in mind and that Rowse “is one of the most commonsensical and levelheaded people I know.” She said all three recognized that “broad brush increased density in the General Plan would not provide the kind of housing we need in Santa Barbara,” while threatening the city’s small-town feel, and urged voters to vote as she will in November.

Jim Youngson of Terrain Consulting told Noozhawk on Tuesday that Lodge’s move represented a “significant” crossover.

He said the City Council race is gearing up to be a polarizing one, and that “the politics right now in City Hall are as edgy as they’ve ever been.”

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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