Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 8:29 am | Overcast 66º


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City Council Candidate Upset Over ‘Bernie Sanders’ Exclusion From Ballot Statement

District 6 hopeful Jack Ucciferri told to strike reference from Santa Barbara ballot statement

Santa Barbara City Council candidate Jack Ucciferri is upset that city officials ordered him to remove a reference to Bernie Sanders in his official ballot statement. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara City Council candidate Jack Ucciferri is upset that city officials ordered him to remove a reference to Bernie Sanders in his official ballot statement. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara City Council candidate Jack Ucciferri, a self-professed “Berniecrat,” is upset that that the city forced him to remove a reference to Bernie Sanders from his ballot statement, and is now considering a legal challenge.

Ucciferri, who is running for a spot in District 6 against incumbent Councilman Gregg Hart, submitted an original 200-word statement with the sentence, “I will represent the Bernie Sanders movement.”

However, city officials told the 38-year-old Realtor that the statement was a “partisan reference,” which is not allowed in the statement.

“The sentence is the most concise way to represent who I am and what my candidacy stands for,” Ucciferri told Noozhawk. “People have a sense of who Bernie is; he is not a party guy.”

Sanders ran for president as a Democrat, but had been an independent prior to his party switch in 2015.

City Clerk Services Manager Sarah Gorman said the law prohibits such a statement.

“The reason that the city could not print the sentence relating to his participation in the Bernie Sanders movement is because, under the law, the candidate’s statement shall not include the party affiliation of the candidate nor membership or activity in partisan political organizations,” Gorman said.

The city gave him the option on Thursday to either remove the sentence or have no ballot statement. Ucciferri chose to remove the statement, but is not sure now how to proceed.

Ucciferri said “there is serious irony that the city is using the logic that my statement of alignment with Bernie is partisan, in order to silence me from making precisely the point that I represent a people’s movement over that of the Democratic party machine.”

Ucciferri has reported no campaign fundraising so far, although he does intend to raise money. He objects to the $101,600 that Hart has raised so far.

“In a district election, I don’t think you need to raise $100,000,” he said.

Hart’s fundraising makes the ballot statement all the more important, Ucciferri said.

“One of the most important ways to communicate with voters is the ballot statement,” Ucciferri said.

Ucciferri is running for a spot in District 6, which includes the downtown area. He is admittedly fighting an uphill battle taking on Hart, who has already served three terms on the council, is endorsed by the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, and is well-liked and respected in political circles.

Ucciferri also believes the party was only interested in endorsing Hart, and did not seriously consider other Democratic candidates; like Sanders, he felt squeezed out. 

Ucciferri believes Hart has plans to run for county supervisor and questions whether he will commit to the 4-year term if elected.

Hart said he is only focused on running for City Council.

Ucciferri is running on a platforming of closing lower State Street to cars, supporting food trucks, and prioritizing alternative transportation and multiple modes of mobility.

He is an advocate for home-sharing and considers himself a “social entrepreneur.”

As it relates to the ballot statement, Ucciferri said he is unsure on how to proceed. He doesn’t have the money to hire an attorney to sue the city, but believes that the wording of his statement is a reference to a movement, not a party.

He said there is no case law on such matters. He believes he is running into some of the same challenges as his political role model.

“Bernie has inspired me,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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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