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Local News

Goleta Public Engagement Commission Holds First Meeting

Seven-member panel aims to increase public involvement in city governance

Goleta’s Public Engagement Commission on Thursday unanimously voted Pedro Paz, right, to serve as chairman and Sherri Bliss was named vice-chair. Click to view larger
Goleta’s Public Engagement Commission on Thursday unanimously voted Pedro Paz, right, to serve as chairman and Sherri Bliss was named vice-chair.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Nearly six months after Goleta decided to hold district elections for future city council seats, the seven-member Public Engagement Commission met for the first time this week.

The newly created commission was created as part of a conditional settlement agreement between the city of Goleta and the Goleta District Elections Committee. 

In May, the committee asserted that Goleta’s at-large electoral system violates the California Voting Rights Act.

There were two people, including Mayor Paula Perotte, in attendance at Thursday's meeting, which lasted more than an hour.

The commission unanimously voted Pedro Paz to serve as chair, and Sherri Bliss was named vice-chair.

Paz and Bliss will lead the group for one year.

Valerie Kushnerov, community relations manager for Goleta, provided an overview of the city’s social media tools to connect with residents and engage with the public.

During the commission's discussion, some of the members stressed the importance of providing translation materials and community engagement to people that speak Spanish. 

Uribe also noted the Asian community.

Kushnerov said 81 residents have signed up for phone subscriptions in Spanish, and 158 people have subscribed to recieve text and email notifications in Spanish.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 33.9 percent of 30,944 Goleta residents identify as Hispanic/Latino, Kushnerov told the comission.

The comission aims to increase public engagement in governance and advise the City Council on issues regarding engaging community members.

Future items on the agenda include whether the city could become a charter city; whether council members should receive greater compensation; whether regular council meetings should be scheduled after 5 p.m.; whether the mayor's term should be for four years; ways to increase resident participating in government; and determining district boundaries for future district elections. 

Commissioners did not vote Thursday night.

Out of 27 applicants, the City Council in September selected Paz and Bliss, James Kyriaco, Beth Schneider, Barbara Massey, Silvia Uribe, and Rey Ybarra from the Goleta District Elections Committee to serve on the commission. 

The conditional settlement agreement stated one of the members be appointed from the Goleta District Elections Committee.

The commission members will be compensated $50 per meeting.

The group meets six times a year.​​

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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