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Local News

Salud Carbajal Takes Oath of Office as 24th District Congressman

Former Santa Barbara County supervisor is expecting his committee assignments this week

Salud Carbajal, fourth from right, took the oath of office Tuesday as the 24th District representative in the United States House of Representatives. Click to view larger
Salud Carbajal, fourth from right, took the oath of office Tuesday as the 24th District representative in the United States House of Representatives.  (Contributed photo)

Salud Carbajal officially became the 24th Congressional District’s representative Tuesday, joining five other Democrats as California’s newest members of Congress.

Carbajal and his 434 colleagues were sworn in at the same time on Capitol Hill.

The state's 24th District is made up of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and northern Ventura counties, and has been represented by Democrat Lois Capps since 1998.

“As this session of Congress is called to order, I’m incredibly honored and humbled to have the opportunity to represent the hardworking families of California’s 24th Congressional District,” Carbajal said in a statement. “This Congress brings with it an unprecedented set of challenges, but I am committed to providing increased economic opportunity and a better future for communities across the Central Coast."

His first vote was against a proposal to slash the power of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, he added.

The former First District county supervisor beat Republican businessman Justin Fareed in November with 53.4 percent of the vote, according to the California Secretary of State’s office.

Carbajal will likely receive his committee assignments within the week, said spokeswoman Tess Whittlesey. 

He will also be joining a number of House caucuses, and is already a member of House Democrats’ New Democrat Coalition, she said.

His top committee choice, he told Noozhawk in November, was the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He added then that he also had his eye on the committees on Armed ServicesVeterans’ AffairsNatural Resources and Agriculture.

After his electoral victory, Carbajal shuttled between Santa Barbara and Washington, D.C., for crash courses on everything from protocols for hiring staff to cybersecurity requirements.

“The first week of orientation was like drinking from a firehouse,” he told Noozhawk in November. “It was quite a lot of information that we were given that we were trying to synthesize, internalize, and it was both exciting and overwhelming at the same time.”

During one of the most expensive House races in the country, Carbajal, 52, had routinely touted his years of local public-service experience, as well as efforts to reach bipartisan solutions.

Fareed had regularly criticized Carbajal as a career politician who advocated stale ideas, and advertised himself as a much-needed outsider who would work to combat Washington gridlock.

Carbajal argued his opponent was unqualified and inexperienced for the job, and linked him to President-elect Donald Trump.

Carbajal, who came to the United States from Mexico at age 5, attended UC Santa Barbara and served in the Marine Corps Reserve before beginning a career in county government.

Throughout the campaign, he identified income inequality, fighting climate change and offshore oil drilling, reducing student debt and implementing reasonable gun control as some of his priorities.

His 12 years on the Board of Supervisors ended last month.

Former state Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) will take his place representing the First District. Williams and new Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann will be sworn in next week. 

The rest of the California delegation of junior and freshmen members of Congress are Senator Kamala Harris and representatives Ro Khanna (D-Fremont), Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel), Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) and Nanette Barragán (D-San Pedro).

Carbajal and his fellow Democrats will face uphill policy battles in the 115th Congress, which is composed of 241 Republicans and 194 Democrats.

Its two-year session began Tuesday.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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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