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Capps Breaks Ranks Again, Backs Kristen Sneddon in Santa Barbara City Council Race

Former congresswoman joins a parade of current and former Democratic office-holders who are backing Sneddon

Former Rep. Lois Capps is backing Kristen Sneddon in the District 4 Santa Barbara City Council race, bucking the endorsement of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party for the second time. Click to view larger
Former Rep. Lois Capps is backing Kristen Sneddon in the District 4 Santa Barbara City Council race, bucking the endorsement of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party for the second time. (Contributed photo)

In a surprise political endorsement, former Rep. Lois Capps has endorsed Kristen Sneddon in the District 4 Santa Barbara City Council race.

Capps, D-Santa Barbara, joins a parade of current and former Democratic office-holders who are backing Sneddon in the contest, even though the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party endorsed one of her opponents, attorney Jim Scafide.

While endorsements in political campaigns are frequent and commonplace, Capps’ decision to go with Sneddon rather than the party’s choice marks a rare fracture among Democratic party brass.

Capps served nearly 20 years in Congress and was long regarded by Democrats as a pillar of the local movement.

As a practical matter, Capps’ endorsement further lifts Sneddon’s momentum with less than a month to go in the campaign.

Capps also ruffled feathers when she backed Hal Conklin for mayor, rather than the party's formal choice, Cathy Murillo. 

“Kristen is exactly the type of strong leader that we need on City Council,” Capps told Noozhawk. “She has been active in local schools – including Starr King, the same pre-school where decades ago I committed my time and energy — and made our community better through meaningful volunteer activities.”

Capps joins a who’s who of local Dems who are backing Sneddon, including state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf, Santa Barbara Unified School District chair Kate Parker and board member Laura Capps, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, and several other current and former prominent Democrats.

Sneddon is also backed by the Santa Barbara City Firefighters’ and Police Officers’ Associations, and the Sierra Club

“I know that Kristen’s science perspective will be an asset to the City Council in relation to decisions regarding water use, drought and energy planning, housing development and one of my top priorities in Congress: environmental protection,” Capps said.”As a District 4 resident, I am excited to cast my vote for Kristen Sneddon.”  

Sneddon, an environmental geologist who raised three children in Santa Barbara during the past 30 years, joined the race in July, after the party had already endorsed Scafide.

The split between the formal party and the elected officials has sparked deep divisions in a District 4 campaign that most regard as competitive.

“I am so honored by the endorsement of Lois Capps,” Sneddon said. “Her leadership in Congress on environmental and social issues reflects the values of our community, and I hope to bring that same type of dedicated, balanced, hard-working perspective to City Hall.”  

Sneddon serves as chair on the Peabody Charter School board of directors.

The third candidate in the race, Jay Higgins, is a land-use consultant and chair of the city’s planning commission.

Gail Teton-Landis, chair of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, did not specifically address Capps' endorsement, but said "Jim Scafide is running an excellent campaign and is a strong, experienced candidate."

In a statement to Noozhawk, Scafide said he was pleased with the support he has in the contest.

"I'm proud of the endorsements of the Democratic Party, Supervisors Das Williams and Joan Hartmann, the Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County, the Women's Political Committee and the many other organizations, community leaders and voters who are supporting and engaged with my campaign for City Council," Scafide 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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