Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 11:17 am | Mostly Cloudy 63º


Local News

Das Williams Touts Budget Bona Fides in Making the Case for Assembly

Santa Barbara councilman says lessons learned locally will pay off in Sacramento

[Noozhawk’s note: The Das Williams for Assembly campaign site link was incorrect. It has been fixed below.]

After 21 months of campaigning, Democrat Das Williams is in the home stretch of the 35th Assembly District race against Republican Mike Stoker. With the election a little over a month away, Noozhawk caught up with Williams to hear about his plans should he be elected Nov. 2.

Das Williams
Das Williams

Williams, 36, has been a Santa Barbara city councilman since 2003 and will be barred by term limits from seeking a third term next year. Last year, just after he made it clear he’d be running for the Assembly, Williams said he wanted to continue serving the community rather than retire from politics. A former teacher, Williams also worked in the Capitol for then-Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who was first elected in 1998 and went on to serve three terms in Sacramento before being termed out herself. Williams defeated Susan Jordan in a bruising Democratic primary in June.

This year’s election could bring some surprises, however. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, independents make up a record 20 percent of registered voters, up from 9 percent in 1990. Noozhawk asked Williams what some of the biggest differences were between him and Stoker.

“The difference is between reality-based budgeting and fantasy land,” Williams said. “Politicians up there are making the kind of promises that Mike Stoker is making now, and saying that he’s going to somehow (close the budget gap) without any cuts ... I just laugh.”

With the state considering more layoffs to save money, Williams said that wouldn’t be the right move while California has almost 13 percent of its population unemployed.

“I think that’s very dangerous and would compound our economic woes. These aren’t faceless bureaucrats,” he said, adding that teachers, construction teams and the like are all part of the casualties, if approved.

“That would damage the economy and the recovery,” he said.

Public education is Williams’ biggest priority.

“If we have to sacrifice other things ... we need to have a public education system,” he said. “That’s the best thing we have going.”

The rough budget talks Williams has been a part of on the city council have been valuable experience, he said.

“It’s very important,” he said. “I have been a Democrat who’s argued for maintaining public safety services and expanded youth programs. But we’ve had to trim costs wherever we could.”

After ending the last two years with deficits, Williams said he’s proud that Santa Barbara is ending this year in the black.

“Unlike cities all across the state, we did that without taking short-sighted actions,” he said.

Carrying that experience to Sacramento is something Williams says he feels equipped to do, but he acknowledges that the Legislature will be a whole different ballgame.

“It’s so huge of a problem that it is not factual to say that you can solve the whole problem either by cuts or by revenues,” Williams said. “It’s got to be some of both. It’s got to be a balanced approach ... If you tried to take $19 billion in cuts, you would destroy our public education system.

“It’s very true that the most effective legislators are the people who create relationships,” he said, adding that he’s proud of the relationships he’s established with Republicans on the Cachuma Operation & Maintenance Board, where he represents the city of Santa Barbara.

Williams said moving the city toward using more solar power and other alternative energies has reduced the cost of municipal building utilities and operating costs. Santa Barbara has met all of its Kyoto Protocol goals, even as the country hasn’t, Williams said. The trash trucks operated by MarBorg Industries and Allied Republic that now run on natural gas and diesel, which Williams considers “a great accomplishment.” The frequency of bus transportation is also a big plus, he says, as well as creek restoration.

Williams said he’s also proud of being able to help work on the budget of Peabody Charter School, which he serves as a trustee.

“We’ve gone back down to a 20-to-1 student-teacher ratio and avoided having to lay off teachers,” he said.

Click here for more information on the Williams campaign.

Click here for a related Noozhawk interview with Mike Stoker.

Williams and Stoker will face off at 7 p.m. Thursday in a League of Women Voters debate at the Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave. The event is free.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >