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Santa Barbara Election Notebook: Mayoral Race Is Santa Barbara’s Most Expensive

Santa Barbara voters will elect a new mayor and three council members Tuesday. Depending on the results, there could be a massive power shift on the council.

The election is the most expensive mayor’s race in Santa Barbara history, with the five candidates collectively raising nearly $850,000. Add in the fundraising for the City Council candidates and this year’s election will top $1.3 million in campaign spending.

What’s At Stake

Unless one of them is elected mayor, Councilmen Frank Hotchkiss and Bendy White will be leaving City Hall in January because of term limits. Cathy Murillo, a third incumbent running for mayor, has two years left on her council term and will retain her seat even if she is unsuccessful in her quest for the top spot.

Incumbent Gregg Hart is running for re-election to the council.

If Murillo wins, her seat will become vacant and, according to the City Charter, the council would need to appoint a new member in 2018. This would likely take place through an appointment process, similar to how the council replaced then-Councilman Das Williams in 2013 after he won election to the Assembly.

In that circumstance, 46 people applied for the seat, and, thanks to a tie-breaking vote by then-Councilman Grant House, current Councilman Randy Rowse was appointed.

Mayor: Elected in 2009, Mayor Helene Schneider was barred by term limits from running for re-election. Seeking to succeed her are Hotchkiss; Murillo; White; Hal Conklin, a former mayor and councilman; and retired business executive Angel Martinez.

Santa Barbara has a recent history of electing female mayors. Prior to Schneider, voters elected Marty Blum, Harriet Miller and Sheila Lodge. dating back to the 1980s. Conklin was mayor for a little more than a year, but was forced to resign after the term-limits law was enacted.

District 4: Jay Higgins, Jim Scafide and Kristen Sneddon are looking to serve in District 4.

District 5: Eric Friedman and Warner McGrew are competing against each other.

District 6: Hart is being challenged by Jack Ucciferri and Aaron Solis.

By the (Fundraising) Numbers

As of Nov. 1, candidates reported these campaign fundraising numbers:


» Martinez, $343,910.49

» Murillo, $191,941.86

» Hotchkiss: $85,419

» White: $118,384.04 (includes $40,000 in self-loans)

» Conklin: $109,289.50 (includes $65,000 in self-loans)

At a combined $848,945, this is the most expensive mayor’s race in Santa Barbara history.

District 4

» Higgins, $81,447.75

» Scafide, $56,277.63

» Sneddon, $52,680.60

District 5

» Friedman, $93,563.85

» McGrew, $40,839.31

District 6

» Hart, $144,107.92

» Ucciferri, $3,835

» Solis, $0

The first wave of election results is expected to be revealed before 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. Updates will follow throughout the night.

Santa Barbara voters will also decide the fate of Measure C. If approved by voters by a simple majority, the initiative will increase the sales tax 1 percent, to 8.75 percent from 7.75 percent. The money is expected to generate $22 million a year. Proponents say the money will go toward public infrastructure, such as roads, sidewalks, buildings and other capital projects, but a future City Council could redirect the funds for use elsewhere.

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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