The Santa Barbara Police Officers Association has decided to endorse a Second District county supervisor candidate after all, making a last-minute effort to support incumbent Janet Wolf.
POA members interviewed Wolf and Aceves in January with the Deputy Sheriffs Association but decided at the time not to make an endorsement. The DSA is backing Aceves, a former Santa Barbara police detective and sheriff’s deputy.
“We didn’t agree on that endorsement, so we decided we would stay out of it because it’s a county supervisor race, even though half the city is in the district,” McGrew said. “We didn’t want to create friction with the DSA at that point.”
Since then, Aceves has talked about converting to a 401(k) or similar retirement system and avoided a public position on Measure M, McGrew said. The infrastructure-funding measure would earmark more of the county budget for maintenance every year to keep conditions at the current level, or better.
“If Measure M passes, it will destroy the Sheriff’s Department and ruin public safety, so we decided we have to step forward, and let the DSA know — we just decided we have to come out with this because it’s just too heated,” McGrew said. “We wanted to go there at the start, and now we’re in a place where we have to step out, so that’s what we’re doing.”
The POA has already come out against Measure M and in support of Sheriff Bill Brown, who is being challenged by sheriff’s Sgt. Sandra Brown, no relation.
The DSA didn’t take a position on the sheriff’s race this year, partly because of the complications of having two sheriff’s employees facing off. The group has focused its energy opposing Measure M.
"Basically all of the other associations backed Janet, but we're backing Roger based on the totality of what he's done and what he stands for," DSA secretary Todd Johnson said. "We stepped outside the decisions of other associations because we're kind of looking at a bigger picture."
The DSA had no communication with the POA before the endorsement announcement this week, he said.
Aceves said he was surprised by the late endorsement, especially since McGrew is on the board of the Tri-Counties PORAC, which endorsed him early along with the state Peace Officers Research Association of California.
“They haven’t spoken to me, but they’re really quick about making assumptions about me without speaking to me, and that’s very unfair,” he said.
Aceves claims the POA broke the “home rule” where associations follow the lead of the jurisdiction impacted by the race — in this case, city groups would follow county groups.
He said he was disappointed the POA didn’t call to talk about its concerns, saying the DSA understands his decision not to take a side on Measure M and continues to support him. The POA’s decision came from its board, while the DSA endorsement came from the entire membership, he added.
“I don’t know why they even came in. They should have just stayed out like they told me they would,” Aceves said. As for retirement systems, “to say that I have the ability to switch a retirement plan is asinine.
“Eventually, and I’ve said this before, for general employees, everything needs to be on the table to make retirement sustainable, but public safety is on a different plan and that’s probably not going to change.”
Wolf said she was honored to have the endorsement and it was a welcome surprise.
“Public safety has always been and continues to be an important part of my platform and my work I do on the Board of Supervisors,” she said. She is also endorsed by the county fire association, the Santa Barbara City Firefighters Association and the Deputy District Attorneys Association.
“I’ve got some great support, and I think it just reflects what people know about me," Wolf said. "They trust me and believe in me and want me to serve another four years."
The Santa Barbara County Elections Office expects turnout to be between 38 percent and 43 percent for the June 3 election with most of the ballots cast by mail.