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Santa Barbara County Gears Up for November’s General Election

Election season in Santa Barbara County is heating up, as candidate filing periods kick off and municipal elections are formally consolidated with the Nov. 8 general election.

With the exception of Santa Barbara, every city in the county will be voting for some of their governing officials this fall.

Residents will also be voting up or down a slew of school district bond measures and significant policy changes, and deciding representatives for federal, state and local offices, including Congress, county supervisor, school boards and special districts. 

A key race is the one to succeed Democratic Congresswoman Lois Capps in California’s 24th Congressional District, which spans San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and part of Ventura counties.

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, a Democrat, and Santa Barbara businessman Justin Fareed, a Republican, are facing off after finishing first and second, respectively, in last month’s primary election.

At the county level, the Third District supervisor position is going to a runoff in November.

Former county planning commissioner Joan Hartmann and Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District board member Bruce Porter seek to replace Doreen Farr after neither topped 50 percent in June’s five-candidate primary.

The county also will be voting on whether to raise the transient occupancy tax — levied on hotels, motels, and, increasingly, short-term vacation rentals — from 10 to 12 percent in unincorporated areas.

If approved by a simple majority of voters, it would be the first TOT increase since 1990, and would increase revenues by an estimated $2 million for the 2017-18.

A 12-percent TOT is already in effect for the cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Buellton, Carpinteria, and Solvang.

On the city level, the Santa Maria mayoral seat held by Alice Patino is up for election, along with the City Council seats currently held by Terri Zuniga and Bob Orach.

Orach has already announced he won't be running for re-election

In Goleta, the two city council seats held by Mayor Jim Farr and Mayor Pro Tem Tony Vallejo are up for election.

Goletans will also consider a proposal to elect the mayor separately from four city council members, as well as whether the mayor should have a term of two years and council members four years. Currently, the top spot is rotated between the five elected council members.

The race for mayor of Lompoc is centered on incumbent Bob Lingl and former mayor John Linn. The current terms of two council seats, held by Jim Mosby and DeWayne Holmdahl, are also ending this year.

In Solvang, Mayor Jim Richardson and the seats held by councilmen Hans Duus and Edwin Skytt are up for election, and in Guadalupe, Mayor John Lizalde and two council seats represented by Jerry Beatty and Gina Rubalcaba are up for election.

Two Buellton City Council seats are additionally up for grabs this year, those currently held by Leo Elovitz and Holly Sierra

In the county’s southeast corner, another two council member seats, those of Vice Mayor Fred Shaw and Wade Nomura, are up for election in Carpinteria.

Santa Barbara holds odd-year City Council and mayoral elections, but residents will be voting this fall on a marijuana tax measure, which requires a simple majority to pass.

With legalization of the substance increasingly likely in California, the tax would apply to Santa Barbara businesses selling both medical and recreational pot. The 20-percent tax on the business’ gross receipts is estimated to generate $1.1 million to $2.2 million per year for general city services.

The biggest shift in how a county area is governed could very well come out of Isla Vista, which will be voting on the creation of a community services district, that would hand over a degree of local control to the half-square-mile town that is largely populated by Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara students.  

The proposed district would have the power to finance the operations of municipal advisory councils; create a tenant-mediation program; finance operations of an area planning commission; exercise the powers of a parking district; contract with the county or UC Regents or both for additional police services; acquire and maintain community facilities; acquire, construct and maintain infrastructure; and abate graffiti.

While that requires a simple majority, Isla Vistans will need to muster a vital two-thirds majority for an 8-percent utility-user tax to pay for it. Five board of directors seats will also be up for grabs, with another two appointed by the Board of Supervisors and UC Santa Barbara’s chancellor, currently Henry Yang.

A litany of bond measures is also being proposed by school districts throughout the county, primarily for repairs, renovations, upgrades, replacement and construction of elementary- and secondary-school facilities.

The following school districts are proposing bond measures:

» Lompoc Unified School District, $65 million

»  Orcutt Union School District, $60 million

»  Santa Barbara Unified School District, $135 million

»  Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, $114 million

» Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District, $14.7 million

Dozens of special district board seats are available, most with four-year terms, including spots in the following organizations: 

»  Carpinteria Sanitary District

»  Carpinteria–Summerland Fire Protection District

»  Carpinteria Valley Water District

»  Casmalia Community Services District

»  Cuyama Community Services District

»  Cuyama Valley Recreation District

»  Embarcadero Municipal Improvement District

»  Goleta Sanitary District

»  Goleta Water District

»  Goleta West Sanitary District

»  Isla Vista Recreation and Park District

»  Lompoc Valley Medical Center

»  Los Alamos Community Services District

»  Mission Hills Community Services District

»  Montecito Fire Protection District

»  Montecito Sanitary District

»  Montecito Water District

»  Santa Barbara Community College District

»  Santa Maria Public Airport District

»  Santa Maria Valley Water Conservation District

»  Santa Rita Hills Community Services District

»  Santa Ynez Community Services District

»  Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District

»  Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District–Improvement District No. 1

»  Summerland Sanitary District

»  Vandenberg Village Community Services District

Vote-by-mail ballots will be sent out Oct. 10, and the final day to register to vote will be Oct. 24. Voters can request a vote-by-mail ballot until Nov. 1 for the election. 

Click here for more information about the Nov. 8 election from the Santa Barbara County Elections Office. 

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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