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Local Candidates Converge on UCSB for Noontime Rally

In the homestretch of the campaign, candidates head to campus to visit with students.

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3rd District Supervisor candidate Steve Pappas talks with a student and prospective voter at UCSB’s Storke Plaza on Monday. (Sonia Fernandez / Noozhawk photo)

Though somewhat diminished by the traffic snarl east of campus, the audience and candidates for public office at UCSB‘s Monday noontime rally was nonetheless enthusiastic.

“It’s really intense,” said Lauryn Keeler, one of the head coordinators from the Associated Students’ Voter Registration Volunteer Coalition. The campus coalition and other campus groups have registered about 15,000 voters, more than any other college campus in the country.

“This is ground zero, right here,” said Rep. Lois Capps, one of several candidates at the event.

The student population has an interest and a say in everything from local issues surrounding the 3rd District Supervisor swing seat to broader issues such as California’s education spending and the various ballot initiatives.

“No on 4 and 8 is really big around here,” Keeler said, referring to Proposition 4, which would require that a minor getting an abortion notify her parents or guardians, and Proposition 8, a California constitution amendment that would deny same-sex couples the right to marry. Measure A, the transportation sales tax continuation of Measure D, is another huge concern.

For Capps and state Senate candidate Hannah-Beth Jackson, the university stop was a visit to old stomping grounds. Capps’ late husband, Walter, was a UCSB professor who enjoyed the support of the student population when he ran for Congress, and Jackson taught for a while at the university.

“For those of you who took my class ... I hope I gave you a good grade,” she quipped.

For other candidates, such as John MacKinnon, who is running for Santa Barbara County judge, and 3rd District candidate Steve Pappas, the rally was an effort to strengthen ties with the denizens of the UCSB campus and Isla Vista.

“I’ve been coming out here and visiting the campus, visiting IV. Let me tell you, I’m a little scared to drive in IV,” said Pappas, commenting on local issues he would like to solve if elected to office.

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Rep. Lois Capps, running for re-election, participated in Monday’s noontime rally at UCSB. (Sonia Fernandez / Noozhawk photo)
Transportation was an issue shared by his rival for the 3rd District seat, Doreen Farr.

“We have just got to move this state into the 21st century,” she said, commenting on her support for a light rail system. On campus, the race for 3rd District Supervisor is close, as there are a large number of independent and Democratic voters, Keeler said. Pappas has been endorsed by the Daily Nexus, and Farr has the endorsement of the UCSB Campus Democrats.

Meanwhile, Jackson, who’s in a hot race to become senator for the 19th District, talked to students about the need to prioritize education funding.

“Those who have been in power have denied you the opportunity to get the best quality education, and to go out into the world without being layered by debt,” she said, airing her commitment to education funding. If elected, Jackson would put the Democratic Party one member away from being the supermajority in the state Senate.

Though many were invited by the campus coalition, not all showed up.

“We invited them all from both sides, and those who showed up were the ones that chose to come,” Keeler said.

Others, including Assemblyman Pedro Nava, running for re-election, were stuck in the hours of traffic caused by a morning standoff between police and a gunman. “He was stuck in the three-hour traffic,” she said.

Candidates who were unable to make it include Tony Strickland, Jackson’s rival for state Senate; Greg Gandrud, running against Nava for state Assembly; and Matt Kokkonen, Capps’ competition for Congress.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at [email protected]

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