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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 9:12 am | Fair 52º

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Francisco Set to Join Williams and Schneider on S.B. Council

Dale Francisco edges out Brian Barnwell in the race for Santa Barbara City Council, according to preliminary results.

Brian Barnwell
In an upset victory, political newcomer Dale Francisco beat incumbent Brian Barnwell in the eight-way race for Santa Barbara City Council Tuesday night, while the other two incumbents, Das Williams and Helene Schneider, also emerged triumphant.
Das Williams
Santa Barbara voters also overwhelmingly rejected Measure A,which would have changed the cycle of the city election toeven-numbered years.

Francisco, a Republican who enjoyed solid financial support from slow-growth advocates, praised the hard work of his campaign helpers Tuesday night at Left At Albuquerque. And in a somewhat pointed way, he said he’s not interested in playing partisan politics in serving on what is technically a non-partisan body.


“I want to focus on issues; I don’t want to bring my personal agenda or politics into any of this,” he said. “That’s part of the problem with the current council.”

Meanwhile, Barnwell, a Democrat, conceded defeat when roughly 90 percent of the votes were counted.

“It’s not what I wanted, but it’s clear what’s going to happen,” he said Tuesday night from the Paradise Café. “It was great fun.”

According to the results, Williams handily took first place, collecting 7,315 votes. Schneider finished second, with 6,539, followed by Francisco, with 6,290.

Frank Hotchkiss
Michelle Giddens
In fourth place was Michelle Giddens, with 5,802, followed by Barnwell (5,725), Frank Hotchkiss (5,319), Daniel Litten (1,874), Bob Hansen (724) and Michael Cooper (694).

For the winners, the election results were a mirror image of their fund-raising efforts. Two weeks before the election, Williams had raised the most amount of money, followed by Schneider and then Francisco.

Francisco said he is excited to begin his term.

“I have a lot of learning to do,” he said Tuesday night.

Francisco said he believes power needs to be restored to some of the committees that make recommendations to the city council on development matters, such as the Architectural Review Board and Historic Landmarks Committee.

“They have incredible powers — they just don’t use them,” he said. “For instance, those huge buildings everybody’s talking about (such as a downtown condo project on Chapala Street) — they can say no.”

Francisco also said he is worried about the budget. Future pension and health care costs, he said, are underfunded.

“Santa Barbara needs to have $93 million it doesn’t have to cover those eventual costs,” he said. “The city has a pretty generous pension and health care plan.”

Francisco, 54, is a software engineer who attended Santa Barbara City College and UCSB before moving to the Bay Area for five years to work at Cisco Systems.

In 2001 he moved back to Santa Barbara, where he has been self-employed. He is single.

Schneider, 36, said she was grateful for the chance to serve a second term.

“Four years ago I had the ultimate interview, and I got the job,” she said. “This was the performance evaluation.”

Schneider said she looks forward to working with Francisco, adding that she doesn’t believe their differing party affiliations will get in the way of a collegial relationship.

“Homelessness isn’t a Republican issue or a Democrat issue, it’s a Santa Barbara issue,” she said. “The same is true for potholes, and youth issues. We might have a different approach to things, but I think we all care about keeping Santa Barbara the great place it is.”

She added that she is sorry to see Barnwell go.

“He’ll always have a special place in my heart, and he’ll always find a way to give back to the city,” she said.


Measure A, meanwhile, was defeated, with 7,554 voters saying no, and 5,804 saying yes.

Supporters of Measure A said it would have boosted voter turnout by aligning the city’s elections with nationwide elections, as well as cut costs because the county would be able to lump it with many others.

"We were sort of naive," said supporter Cathy Murillo, a member of the Santa Barbara Clean Elections Working Group. "We can try again next year."

Opponents decried how it would result in giving the sitting council a five-year term. They also said it could cause municipal elections to become more partisan.

"What the defeat of this measure has done is prove that people love Santa Barbara," said Jim Kahan, member of the Coalition Against Measure A. "We have our own elections and we have our own identities."

In a move designed to save money, the city of Santa Barbara decidedto run the election. In the past, elections have been run by the county.

Click here to see the semi-official election results


Sonia Fernandez contributed to this report.

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