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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 6:56 am | Fair 47º


County Democratic Party Endorses Oscar Gutierrez in Westside Santa Barbara City Council Race

The Santa Barbara County Democratic Party has endorsed Oscar Gutierrez in the District 3 Santa Barbara City Council race.

Gutierrez, a longtime Westside resident, was one of three candidates who drove to Pea Soup Anderson’s in Buellton March 1 to interview with the Party for the endorsement.

Gutierrez, Ken Rivas and Bob Looney were the only candidates to fill out the party’s questionnaire and seek an interview, said party chairwoman Gail Teton-Landis.

“I liked his priorities,” Teton-Landis said. “He is a Spanish-speaker who spent most of his life in that neighborhood.”

Other candidates who have pulled papers include Whitney O’Malley,  Laura Smith and Michael Vidal.

Teton-Landis said Gutierrez expressed interest in enhancing Spanish-language services and holding office hours on the Westside. She said the party also appreciated that he has already been walking the neighborhoods.

Although Santa Barbara City Council elections are non-partisan, endorsements by the Democratic Party come with a wealth of resources, including volunteers, literature and telephone calls.

The Party endorsement isn’t a guarantee to victory, but there’s no dispute that a strong candidate with the party’s backing is a frontrunner in a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 10 percent.

The party has also endorsed Gregg Hart in his bid for Second District county supervisor.

“It is very humbling and encouraging because I have been a lifelong Democrat, and now this means I will be a representative of the party,” Gutierrez told Noozhawk.

Gutierrez, 34, delivered a roughly 5-minute speech, followed by 10-minutes of questions.

He got the call a little after 11 p.m. that he received the endorsement.

“I was a little surprised,” Gutierrez said.

A producer at TVSB, Gutierrez said he’s now trying to figure out who his campaign manager and treasurer are going to be. He plans to formally turn in his signatures to the Santa Barbara City Clerk’s Office on Tuesday.

The District 3 Westside seat opened up after Cathy Murillo was elected mayor. The election is June 5. 

"I feel honored,” he said “I feel excited. My whole life I have been supporting the Democratic Party. For them to want to endorse me it is a bit of a validation of how I’ve lived my life so far. I am ready to rock. I am so ready.

"It’s really exciting to be able to do so much good for my city and my community.”

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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