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Santa Barbara County Gears Up for Tuesday’s Primary Election

In addition to president and Congress, voters will cast ballots for county supervisors, their state senator, and state assembly member

Members of the Santa Barbara County Elections Office field questions Monday from voters. The polls for the primary election will be open from Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Members of the Santa Barbara County Elections Office field questions Monday from voters. The polls for the primary election will be open from Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara County voters will be casting ballots for a wide range of elected offices Tuesday during California’s primary election.

In addition to presidential nominating contests and a congressional primary, voters will vote on candidates for the state Senate and Assembly and three seats on the county Board of Supervisors.

Proposition 50 will also be on the ballot.

The initiative proposes that state legislators who are suspended by a two-thirds vote by their respective chamber also lose their salaries, benefits, legislative resources, and powers of office during their suspension.

According to data from the Santa Barbara County Clerk–Recorder Elections Office, there were 201,865 registered voters in the county as of May 23 — 10,000 more than the 2012 primary, which saw a 44.7-percent turnout.

Many of the races are intended to winnow down their respective fields for the Nov. 8 general election.

“You have voter-nominated contests like United States Senate or the state Assembly,” said Joseph Holland, the county’s clerk, recorder, and assessor. “In those cases, the top-two candidates will move on to November.”

The new “Postmark Plus Three” law, he said, now allows all vote-by-mail ballots received up to three days after the election to be counted if they’re postmarked by Election Day.

Previously, they had to be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

County residents can find their polling places and sample ballots on the county elections office’s website, and precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Though only Republicans may vote in their party’s presidential primary, in which real estate mogul Donald Trump has already secured enough delegates for the nomination, Democrats and unaffiliated voters may turn out for the other major party’s primary between former-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, both of whom campaigned recently in the county.

The U.S. Senate primary features a dizzying array of 34 candidates seeking to replace the retiring Barbara Boxer, and is led by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

One of the most fiercely fought races that has grabbed the county’s attention is to replace retiring Democratic Congresswoman Lois Capps in California’s 24th congressional district.

Nine candidates are seeking to represent Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and northern Ventura counties in Congress.

Leading the fundraising and endorsement competitions are Democratic Firs District county Supervisor Salud Carbajal, Democratic mayor of Santa Barbara Helene Schneider, Republican 35th-district state assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, and Republican Justin Fareed, a Santa Barbara rancher and businessman.

In 2016, Carbajal raised $1.9 million through May 18, according to Federal Election Commission data.

He leads Fareed, who has raised $1.1 million through the same period, Achadjian, who has raised $788,000, and Schneider, who has raised $630,000.

The supervisor also has by far the most cash on-hand, with over $648,000, according to the FEC.

Also seeking a top-two finish Tuesday are Democratic San Luis Obispo rancher William Ostrander, Republican San Luis Obispo financial advisor Matt Kokkonen, independent Morro Bay statistician John Uebersax, Democratic Montecito design consultant Benjamin Lucas, and independent Atascadero engineer Steve Isakson.

Running for county supervisor for the First District, which includes eastern Santa Barbara, Montecito, Carpinteria and Cuyama, are state Assemblyman Das Williams of the 37th district and Santa Barbara County investment officer Jennifer Christensen.

In the county's Fourth District, which includes Lompoc and parts of Santa Maria, incumbent Peter Adam is facing a challenge from Eduardo Ozeta, an eligibility worker in the county’s Social Services Department.

Because these two races feature only two candidates, the winner nabs the supervisor spot without having to compete in November.

The race to replace Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr, however, has five candidates: former–county planning commissioner Joan Hartmann, businessman and Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Board member Bruce Porter, software developer Jay Freeman, private citizen Karen Jones, and retired businessman Bob Field.

“The top two will move on to November unless one candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote — then they win that contest at this primary,” said Holland.

The district encompasses Buellton, Santa Ynez, Solvang, parts of Goleta and Lompoc, Isla Vista, and Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Hannah-Beth Jackson of the state Senate’s 19th district is being challenged by Republican businessman Colin Walch.

Running for William’s 37th-district assembly spot are Democrat Monique Limón, a Santa Barbara Unified school board member, and businessman Edward Fuller.

The primary will serve more as a formal public-opinion poll for these races, said Holland, which are to be decided in November; because there are only two candidates, there is no one to eliminate Tuesday.

Achadjian’s 35th Assembly district is being contested by Republican businessmen Jordan Cunningham and Steve Lebard, Democratic business owner Dawn Ortiz-Legg, and Libertarian Dominic Rubini.

According to Holland, since January, a notable number of residents have changed their party preferences to either Democratic or Republican in anticipation of the primary.

There are 86,000 registered Democrats in the county, versus 59,000 registered Republicans and 48,000 with no party preference, according to county data.

The 202,000 registered voters is the most ever for a presidential primary, Holland said.

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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