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Goleta Planning Commissioner Declares Candidacy for City Council

Old Town resident Ed Easton says this election is all about growth. Incumbent Jonny Wallis says she won't run again and endorses Easton.

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While Goleta City Council candidate Ed Easton is intent on renegotiating the city’s revenue-neutrality agreement with Santa Barbara County, he says UCSB may be a more complicated challenge. (Sonia Fernandez / Noozhawk photo)

Goleta Planning Commissioner Ed Easton on Wednesday officially announced his candidacy for the City Council, promising to work along slow-growth principles and protect the unique character of the city’s neighborhoods.

“I’m running because this election is about growth in Goleta. Make no bones about it: The decisions which are made in the next four years will be crucial to the quality of life in Goleta forever,” an emotional Easton told a small but enthusiastic crowd gathered in front of the Goleta Valley Community Center in the heart of Old Town Goleta.

Easton, a retired University of North Carolina architecture professor, has been an active participant in Goleta’s planning and design for several years, as a member of the Old Town Project Advisory Committee, the city’s Design Review Board, and as the city’s first Planning Commission chairman. He has long been active with environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Gaviota Coast Conservancy.

An Old Town resident, Easton promised to revitalize the neighborhood, put local residents’ concerns before outside interests, promote environmental protection, and negotiate a less burdensome revenue-neutrality agreement with Santa Barbara County.

“Rather than negotiating through anger and engaging in recriminations about the past, I will move us forward and engage in a reasonable but persistent approach to this issue,” he said.

Goleta’s revenue agreement has been a hot topic recently as budget shortfalls loom over the city. To get out from underneath the burden, officials recently entertained the possibility of placing a local sales tax measure on the November ballot, but later abandoned the idea. The measure would have raised funds for local projects and programs, but could have derailed Measure A, the transportation sales tax measure meant to replace the current Measure D.

However challenging the revenue-neutrality negotiations with the county might be, according to Easton, the talks around the UCSB Long Range Development Plan may prove to be more work.

“It’s a complex issue,” said Easton, explaining that the city and UCSB “don’t necessarily have the most cooperative relationship.”

“I look forward to an honest discussion with them,” he said.

As Easton introduced himself as a council candidate, charter Councilwoman Jonny Wallis took the opportunity to declare that she was not running for another term.

“My major thoughts are to say thank you to Goletans for the wonderful years you’ve given me to serve you and the city I love and to thank you for all the help you’ve given me as we’ve made difficult decisions,” said Wallis, who is one of the city’s co-founders, and once its mayor. She threw her support behind Easton.

Easton joins several others in the race for two of council seats up for election this year.

Earlier this year, Councilwoman Jean Blois declared her intention to seek re-election and recently filed paperwork to that effect. On July 10, local businessman and Goleta native Don Gilman announced his candidacy. Meanwhile, former Goleta Councilwoman Margaret Connell has confirmed her intention to run and is expected to make her announcement next week.

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

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