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Touting Record and Progress, Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino Launches Re-Election Bid

Reitred teacher cites gang violence, downtown revitilization and economic development as top issues facing city leadership

Supporters join Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino as she announces her plans to run for re-election Friday evening at Santa Maria Town Center West. “It’s very important the community come together and celebrate what we are as a community,” she says.“We’re not Santa Barbara, we’re not San Luis Obispo. We’re Santa Maria and I love it.” Click to view larger
Supporters join Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino as she announces her plans to run for re-election Friday evening at Santa Maria Town Center West. “It’s very important the community come together and celebrate what we are as a community,” she says.“We’re not Santa Barbara, we’re not San Luis Obispo. We’re Santa Maria and I love it.” (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Maria’s first woman mayor is seeking four more years in the job.

Mayor Alice Patino announced her re-election plans Friday evening during the Downtown Fridays event in the parking lot of Santa Maria Town Center West after outlining a number of projects completed during the past four years.

“For the future, we have many things that we still need to do,” she said.

Public safety has been one of the most high-profile issues.

A spike in homicides, many reportedly linked to gangs, terrorized the city in 2015, including several that left teenagers dead. Other cases involved men shot in vehicles or while walking on sidewalks.

“When we experienced our terrorists that came into our community, the City Council stepped up,” Patino said. “We supported our police. Our police did a fantastic job of taking care of the issues.”

Reducing gang violence remains a top goal for the council.

“Believe me, we are going to work on that,” Patino said. “We are very vigilant.”

But the focus isn’t just public safety as she noted progress on parks projects and economic development.

A town hall meeting a few years ago included complaints about a park in northwest Santa Maria, prompting the city to undertake a massive makeover, she said.

“So now the old Oakley Park is brand-new,” Patino said.

Several developments, including Enos Ranchos, a hotel and more on North Broadway at Preisker Lane, have been approved recently, she said.

“We want to continue economic development and attract higher-paying jobs here,” she added.

Patino, a 75-year-old retired teacher, has years of public service on her résumé, including serving as a board member of the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District and numerous nonprofit organizations.

Revitalizing the downtown area — demolished by a different council decades ago to make way for the indoor mall — is another important project for future elected officials.

“These are the cards we were dealt,” Patino said, noting many projects in the planning stages for the downtown core. “Now we’re going to have to build on what we have, and I think we can do that.”

Downtown Fridays, where she made her announcement, is also part of that revitalization effort.

“I want to see Santa Maria come back economically as we once were,” Patino said. “I think that’s very important. I think it’s very important the community come together and celebrate what we are as a community.

“We’re not Santa Barbara, we’re not San Luis Obispo,” she said. “We’re Santa Maria and I love it.”

Patino grew up in Santa Maria and was first elected to the City Council in 1999. Patino and her husband, John, have been married 52 years. They have two sons, both of whom are in agriculture, and four grandchildren.

She said she is available to fulfill the duties of mayor, a job that is more time intensive than she initially expected.

Being mayor requires being well informed and caring about the job, Patino said, adding that she has been accessible to constituents.

“I love Santa Maria,” she said. “I just think we can be so much more and we will get there.”

Terms now filled by Council members Bob Orach and Terri Zuniga are up for grabs this year in addition to the four-year mayoral seat.

Zuniga previously announced plans to seek another term while Orach has said he remains undecided.

The filing period for nomination papers and candidate statements runs from July 18 through Aug. 12. If an incumbent does not file for re-election, then the filing period for that office will be extended to Aug. 17.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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