Monday, June 18 , 2018, 12:28 am | Fair 54º

 
 
 
 

Local News

For Michael Bennett, Public Service is a Calling and a Cause

Goleta councilman says he's energized by challenges of Old Town revitalization, revenue-neutrality and the budget puzzle

Michael Bennett is no stranger to Goleta politics. The incumbent city councilman has served as mayor and even was “elected” mayor in one of the 8-year-old city’s previous attempts at incorporation.

Michael Bennett
Michael Bennett

Before that, the native of Pasadena served in the Santa Barbara County Fire Department for 36 years, working up the ranks to become battalion chief. He lives in Goleta with his wife and they have two grown children and two grandchildren. He’s watched the city grow up.

“There is in my mind unfinished business that I would like to weigh in on,” said Bennett, who was elected to the council in 2006 and served one term as mayor.

Among the issues he considers unfinished is the revitalization of Old Town Goleta, the historic center of the city. Tied to Old Town revitalization is the San Jose Creek/steelhead trout project, which will help end the periodic flooding on the east end of the neighborhood and open it up to infrastructure and building improvements.

The budget is another big one for Bennett, as the city has been weathering one of the country’s worst economic storms. He’s also particularly interested in the city’s relationship with Santa Barbara County through the revenue-neutrality agreement, as the county claims revenue through bed and sales taxes that originate in Goleta. It’s a condition the city founders signed on to as part of incorporation, but it has also led to concern among those who believe the city could do much better for itself if it were able to keep its revenue.

Looking ahead, Bennett still wants input on major projects that will affect Goleta citizens, particularly the UCSB Long-Range Development Plan, as the university seeks to absorb up to 5,000 new students and 2,000 UCSB faculty and staff on its campus.

Closer to his heart, and his interest in firefighting (a trait he says comes from his dad, whom he calls a “fire buff”), is the opening of a new Fire Station 10 in western Goleta.

Bennett has also experienced the pendulum swings that accompanied the city’s early years. The first city council was heavy on the no-growth side, but that majority shifted to a more business-friendly makeup in 2006 with the election of Bennett and current Mayor Eric Onnen, who is not seeking re-election. In 2008, it shifted again but Bennett thinks the wild swings are over and the council can get to work.

“I also believe that this council gets along well and can accomplish much,” he told Noozhawk.

It’s an idea that he holds to as he runs for re-election. Despite the recent news and scandal about public servants and their compensations, Bennett believes that work in the public sector is well worth it.

“I believe that public service is one of the highest callings in society, more so today than ever before,” he said. “When public service is under such severe attack as it is today it is imperative that public employees hold their ground to honorably serve the public.

“That is not to say that they should be exempt from layoff or salary/benefit reductions, but to keep their heads high as public service continues to be an honorable profession.”

Click here for more information on Michael Bennett’s campaign.

Related Stories

» Roger Aceves Stakes Out Position As ‘Man in the Middle’

» Goleta’s Small-Town Feel Drives Paula Perotte to be a Voice for Working Families

» Reyne Stapelmann Touts Her Small-Business Perspective in Bid for Goleta Council

» Click here for Roger Aceves’ Noozhawk Q&A.

» Click here for Michael Bennett’s Noozhawk Q&A.

» Click here for Paula Perotte’s Noozhawk Q&A.

» Click here for Reyne Stapelmann’s Noozhawk Q&A.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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