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Williams Edges Out Stoker for 35th District Assembly Seat

The Santa Barbara city councilman says he's ready to help tackle the state's budget woes

Assembly candidate Das Williams celebrated with supporters Tuesday night in downtown Santa Barbara after winning a close race to represent the 35th District in Sacramento.

Williams, a Democrat, beat Republican opponent Mike Stoker and claimed the seat by racking up 33,088 votes, or 52.4 percent of the vote in Santa Barbara County, according to final election results early Wednesday morning. Stoker received 29,887 votes, or 47.33 percent in Santa Barbara County.

In Ventura County, Williams received 24,085 votes, or 55.5 percent, to Stoker’s 19,307 votes, or 44.5 percent.

The 36-year-old Williams has been a Santa Barbara city councilman since 2003 and was barred by term limits from seeking a third term next year.

Last year, just after he made it clear he would run 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.

Last month, Williams shared with Noozhawk some of his plans to get the state budget back on track. With the state considering more layoffs to save money, Williams said that wouldn’t be the right move with nearly 13 percent of California’s 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.”

Williams, an advocate for public education, has said the state’s school system is “the best thing we have going.”

He said the rough budget talks he has been a part of on the City Council have been valuable experience. Carrying that experience to Sacramento is something Williams said 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.”

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

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