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Bucking the Party Line, Former Rep. Lois Capps Endorses Hal Conklin for Santa Barbara Mayor

Lois Capps
Lois Capps

Hal Conklin has received a somewhat unlikely endorsement in his run for mayor of Santa Barbara — from former Congresswoman Lois Capps.

"Hal Conklin has a lifetime of service to Santa Barbara,” Capps said in a statement. “I respect and have seen first-hand his commitment to our environment, our neighborhoods and our community. He has a proven track record in advancing environmentally sustainable policies here and around the globe, and is a defender of progressive values.

"He is the right choice for Santa Barbara."

The endorsement is significant because Capps, long regarded as the matriarch of the local Democratic Party, is backing a different candidate than the county Democratic Party, which is backing Councilwoman Cathy Murillo.

Capps joined her daughter, Laura Capps, a board member of the Santa Barbara Unified School District board of trustees, in endorsing Conklin.

The Santa Barbara mayor’s race is one of the most intriguing in decades because no clear frontrunner has emerged.

Conklin, a former councilman and mayor in the 1980s and early 1990, is running for the spot against Murillo, former Deckers CEO and chairman of the board Angel Martinez, Councilman and Realtor Frank Hotchkiss, and Councilman and land-use consultant Harwood “Bendy” White.

Conklin has called on some old friends and relationships for endorsements in the contest, including Capps and Santa Barbara County Supervisor Das Williams, who also broke ranks with the Party to endorse Conklin.

With his slogan of “Hal Yes!” Conklin is looking to reclaim his seat as the figurative leader of the city. He vows to return the decisions to the community and steer city policy away from a top-down, heavy-handed, bureaucratic focus.

Hal Conklin Click to view larger
Hal Conklin

The endorsement is also notable because Democratic insider wonks are worried that the three Democrats in the race — Murillo, White and Conklin — will split the vote, and allow Republican Frank Hotchkiss to glide into the top spot.

Martinez is the biggest unknown, running as an outsider candidate, snatching support from traditional business cornerstones such as the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce.

Unlike the other candidates, however, who have all been deeply involved in community service and politics in the city for decades, Martinez recently moved from Hope Ranch into the city, and is trying to raise his name recognition among city voters.

Martinez has launched an aggressive social media campaign, hoping to appeal to “young professionals.”

Conklin believes the city is ready to return to its roots.

“I am honored to have Lois and Laura Capps support as we work to not only restore Santa Barbara’s place as a model environmental community, but also to share their vision for a new economy that builds and preserves our history and natural resources for the 21st century,” Conklin said.

“Their track record on environmental protection is impeccable, and I am humbled to have them work with me to protect this jewel of a community we have inherited from those who have gone before us.”

The vote-by-mail election is Nov. 7.

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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